Snowflakes whirled down out of the gray winter sky as the bells of St. Paul’s Chapel at Broadway and Fulron Street rang out the hour- ten-o’clock ofa frosty winter morning.
It was Mo nday, 5 Jan uary 1818, and the horses that had drawn the carriages bringing anxious relatives.
and well-wishers down to New York’s South Street waterfront snorted puffs of steam from their nostrils as they.
shifted from foot to foot, waiting for whatever was going to happen.
At the foot of Fulro n Street the pewtery East River water slid through the pilings of th e pi ers,
bearing an occasional shee t of ice on its way downriver toward the sea.Just to the north,
At the Beekman Street pier, a tall, bluffbowed, smartly painted and var nished ship lay with sails hanging in their gear.
As the St. Paul’s bells sounded the hour, the big ship, over one hundred fee t in length, the last word in trans Adantic travel,
cast off her lines forward and hauled out of the slip on her spring line, the men forwa rd smartly hoisted jib and forestaysa il.
They backed the grace ful airfo ils against the chilly wind to swing the beauty’s head off, as other hands tailed on ro the foretopsail yard halyard,
hoisting the grea t sail to pull the ship forward and out into the seaward stream.
There may have been a song or two on deck aboard this great ship that would be remembered in song and story,
but we may be sure there were the usual sharp commands-“Look alive there!”
‘”Vast heaving!” “That’s well, the fore braces!” and the like-for the language of the sea has not changed much since that distant snowy day,
and the way of backi ng a square rigger out of her slip, not at all.
So the 400-ton packet fames Monroe set fo rth on the first rransAdancic passage of the Black Ball Line.
The pro ud vessel stood high out of the water, fo r she carri ed only a small cargo of apples, cotton and turpentine from Southern fields and fo rests,
and flour, ap ples and other produce from New England and local New York and New Jersey fa rms.
It was much less than she could carry and less than she did carry on her subsequent voyages under the Black Ball flag.
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