Cushing & White
3 boxes (1 partial)
This collection is stored at Firestone Library and Firestone Library.
This collection is stored onsite at Firestone Library. Boxes 18-19, 21-22, 36-38, and 47
are stored in special vault facilities.
Requests will be delivered to Manuscripts Division, RBSC Reading Room
Collection Creator: De Coppet, Andre, 1892-1953..
Extent: 3 boxes (1 partial)
Collection is open for research use. Researchers may be required to use surrogates of
collection items stored in special vault facilities.
This series consists of the papers of business partners Samuel White and John Cushing (1743-1822), merchants and privateers during the American Revolution. Cushing & White operated out of Boston and acted as administrative agents and part-owners in multiple vessels that sailed along the North American coast and to the West Indies. John Cushing appears to have been the leader in the partnership as the bulk of papers bear his name. Cushing was a native of Massachusetts, born in Scituate, Plymouth County in 1743 to John and Deborah Barker Cushing. In 1773 he married Olive Wallingford, daughter of Colonel Thomas and Elizabeth Wallingford. He was chosen Colonel, 2nd Plymouth County Regiment in 1776 but resigned the commission in 1779 citing ill health. By that time, he had already started his merchant and privateering partnership with Samuel White. By definition, privateers were privately funded but government sanctioned vessels that preyed on enemy ships. Captured ships were known as “prizes,” and the goods and cargo on board were sold to the profit of the owners and crewmembers. Privateers played a significant role in the American Revolutionary War, outnumbering government-owned vessels by more than ten to one and capturing nearly 600 British ships over the course of the war. Cushing & White acted as agents and owners of various ships outfitted for privateering, most prominently from 1777-1780. They experienced both successes and failures but by 1784 seemed to have fallen into serious financial difficulties. A letter dated 1787 to “John Cushing—Supervising partner of the late House of Messrs. Cushing & White” suggests by then the partnership dissolved—either due to bankruptcy or the death of Samuel White. Papers dating from 1784 onward suggest Cushing continued to earn his living as a merchant. The papers in the series are largely focused on the privateering years, and include correspondence, financial records, and official documents often signed by captains and crewmembers. Subject matter is focused on investments, prizes, the sale of captured goods, and the threat of the enemy. Of note is a printed license to arm issued by the Continental Congress and signed by president John Hancock. The papers are arranged alphabetically by name of ship, with miscellaneous material at the end. Known information about the ship is given in the description. Within the ship folders, the papers are arranged chronologically unless otherwise noted.
Cushing & White; 1767-1795; Andre De Coppet Collection, Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.