A four-masted medium clipper barque built in 1853 by Donald McKay, East Boston,
on speculation. Originally rigged with Forbes' double topsail yards.
She is 325 feet long, has 53 feet extreme breadth of beam, and 39
depth of hold, including 4 complete decks. The height between her spar and upper
decks is 7 feet, and between the others 8 feet; and all her accomodations are in
the upper between decks. The crew's quarters are forward; and aft she has sail
rooms, accomodations for boys and petty officers, and abaft these, two cabins
and a vistibule. The after cabin is beautifully wainscotted with mahogany, has
recess sofas on each side, ottomans, marble covered tables, mirrors and
elliptical panels ornamented with pictures. She has also a fine library for the
use of her crew, and spacious accomodations for passengers.
On the spar deck there are five houses for various purposes, but such is her
vast size, that they appear to occupy but little space. She has an eagle's head
forward for a head, and on the stern, which is semi-elliptical in form, is a
large eagle, with the American shield in his talons. She is yellow metalled up
to 25 feet draught, and above is painted black. Instead of bulwarks, the outline
of her spar deck is protected by a rail on turned stanchions, which, with the
houses, are painted white. Of her materials and
fastenings we cannot speak too highly. She is built of oak, is diagonally
cross-braced with iron, double ceiled, has 4 depths of midship keelsons, each
depth 15 inches square, three depths of sister keelsons, and 4 bilge keelsons,
two of the riders, and all her frames are coaged, also the keelsons and
waterways, and she is square fastened throughout. She has three tiers of
stanchions, which extend from the hold to the third deck, and are kneed in the
most substantial style. She also has many long pointers and 10 beamed hooks
forward and aft. In a word, she is the strongest ship ever built.
Another description of the Great Republic was published by Henry Hall
Report on the Ship-Building Industry of the United States.
Griffiths gave a description of the ship in the U.S. Nautical Magazine Volume II (1855).
- 1853 October 4
Launched at Donald McKay's Yard, East Boston.
- 1853 December 26-27
Caught fire while at New York loading for
Liverpool. The remains of the ship was surrendered to the underwriters for $
235.000 from which she was sold to Captain N.B. Palmer for Messrs. A.A. Low
and Brothers. She was subsequently rebuilt by Sneeden & Whitlock at
Greenpoint, Long Island, NY. The Forbes' double topsail rig was replaced with
Captain Howes' rig.
- 1855 February 24 - March 12
- Sailed from New York to London in
17 days. The abstract log was published in U.S. Nautical Magazine Volume II (1855).
- 1856 March
- Sailed from New York to Liverpool in 19 days.
- 1856 December 7 — March 9
- Sailed from New York to San
Fransico in 92 days under command of Captain Joseph Limeburner.
- 1857 March [?]
- Sailed from New York to San Francisco in 91 days. [Is this the same passage as the preceeding one?]
- 1859 March
- Sailed from San Francisco to New York in 99 days.
- Re-rigged as three masted ship sometime during this
- Sold to Captain Hatfield, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and others.
- 1869 January
- Sold to the Merchants Trading Company of Liverpool
and renamed Denmark and put in the East India Trade.
- Sprang a leak in a hurricane off Bermuda en route
from Rio de Janeiro to St. John, NB, and was abandoned with 15 feet of water
in the hold.
- Oil painting by
J.E. Buttersworth,. [From the Essex Peabody Museum, Salem, MA, USA]
- Woodcut by E. Weedon in the Illustrated London News,
- At the Montague Street terminal of the Wall Street ferry at
Brooklyn, New York. [San Francisco Maritime Museum]
Reproduced in: D.R. MacGregor: British and American Clippers, p 128.
- An excellent picture of the Great Republic taken in San
Francisco. [Peabody Essex Museum of Salem]
Reproduced in: D.R. MacGregor: British and American Clippers, p 129
- Clipper ships, general references.
- Bradlee, Francis B.C.: The Ship Great Republic and Donald
McKay Her Builder.
The Essex Institute, Salem, MA, 1927. 8vo, fp, (2), 38 pp, 9 plates.
Reprinted from the Historical Collections of the Essex
Institute Volume LXIII.
- Hall, Henry: Report on the Ship-Building Industry of the United
- Howe, Octavius T. & Matthews, Frederick C.: American Clipper Ships
1926. pp 33-35.
- McKay, Richard Some Famous Sailing Ships and Their Builder Donald
1928. pp 210-225.
- (MacLean, Duncan): Description of the largest ship in the
world, the new clipper Great Republic, of Boston, designed,
built and owned by Donald McKay and commanded by Capt. L.
McKay. Illustrated with Designs of her Construction.
Written by a sailor.
Eastburn's Press, Boston, 1853. 8vo, 17x9.5 cm, 24 pp, 6 folding plates.
Two plates fold out to more than three feet in length.
The text was reprinted in The Nautical Gazette, 1913, in an article with
the title Greatest Ships ever Built. Shows Great Republic rigged
as a four-masted barque with double top-sails.
Updated 2002-03-13 by
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