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"Jeff Davis' Proclamation"
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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In this proclamation Confederate President Jefferson Davis advertised for vessels willing to sail under "letters of marque." Letters of marque were a way for a government that had no real navy to create one from armed, private ships. A letter of marque allowed a shipowner to attack and seize enemy vessels with the agreement of his government. The Confederacy was forced to use this tactic because of what it had inherited. Although the new Confederate government had authorized the creation of a navy in February, 1861, in fact the Confederacy had only a tiny number of ships: five small vessels, four revenue cutters, three slavers, two privately owned coastal steamers, and an old side-wheeled steamboat, the Fulton. It had few major shipyards and only one foundry for the casting of naval guns. The Union on the other hand, had a huge shipbuilding capacity. On April 19, 1861, President Lincoln authorized the blockade that would eventually choke the Confederacy. Throughout the war the Confederacy operated a number of raiding vessels and blockade runners. These were modestly effective but were never able to provide enough of a difference to counter the increasingly effective Union blockade.
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