The War of 1812, cont.

There were many whalemen among the six thousand American prisoners taken by England. Nantucketers, forced to continue whaling for their survival, lost twenty-three out of forty-six vessels. Even those ships that managed to escape capture could find no foreign markets for their oil.

Between the loss of ships and the inability of those not captured to leave shore, the whaling industry was, for the second time, nearly at an end. The market value for whale products had shrunk dramatically and the business structure of the industry had collapsed. Yet when peace returned the enterprising energy of American whalemen shone through. Not only did the fleet re-emerge, but within thirty years it dominated the industry worldwide.

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