Contents and Arrangement

Cushing & White, 1767-1795

3 boxes

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

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.


The collection is arranged alphabetically by name of originator and/or subject; in the Miscellaneous and Provenance Files boxes (Boxes 43-44) the material is arranged alphabetically under the subject (ex.: "Washington, George.").

Collection History


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Rebecca Garcia during the period of November 2007 - October 2008. Finding aid written by Rebecca Garcia in 2008.

During 2022, restrictions on original materials, including items related to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln, were lifted as part of a restrictions review project.

Collection title revised to provide more information about the collection by Faith Charlton in 2022.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Cushing & White; Andre De Coppet Collection Concerning United States History, C0063, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

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Storage Note:
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