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Portsmouth Fails at Whaling


So the Portsmouth Whaling Company was formed in June 1832 at the Bell Tavern on Congress Street. Corporations, a popular new business idea, had worked well in Portsmouth before. By sharing costs, a group of investors could create a business, split up the risk, and divide the profits. This "venturesome attitude" had lead to the funding of local banks, a public bath, the Portsmouth Aqueduct Company, steamboats, even roads and bridges. Portsmouth Whaling Company investors included Ichabod Goodwin, a future New Hampshire governor, and Thomas Laighton, who three years later managed the NH Gazette and went on to build a tourist hotel on the rocky Isles of Shoals featuring his daughter, poet Celia Thaxter.

In 1832 the company still had no ship, crew, expertise or provisions. There was, however, investment money and, soon the group owned the 98-foot 300-ton whaler Pocahontas. Supplies not normally found in Portsmouth had to be custom made. Experienced crewmen were needed for difficult voyages that could last years. Specialized whaling gear, unknown in Portsmouth, had to be purchased elsewhere or crafted locally at great expense.

Other entrepreneurs, smelling money, took the plunge. Charles Cushing of South Berwick quickly outfitted the ship Triton, and later the Plato for his own whaling venture. Another group under the Ladd brothers (of Moffatt-Ladd House fame) also decided to cash in on the imagined whaling boom. As an outgrowth of their Portsmouth Pier Company on Daniel Street, the two joined forces with investors who paid $500 each ($11,000 today) for 40 shares of stock in the ship Ann Parry. To corner the local market, the Ladds also built a whale oil refinery on Market Street, the only one of its kind in this region.

Early Portsmouthouth advertisement for Whale oil / 


ONTINUE WHALING in New Hampshire

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News about Portsmouth from

Thursday, February 22, 2018 
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