Piscataqua Pioneers Annual Meeting Program 2014
The 110th Annual Meeting of the Piscataqua Pioneers was held on Saturday July 26th, 2014 at the Regatta Banquet and Conference Center in Eliot, Maine. President Ellen Dennett conducted the business meeting and following the luncheon, introduced our guest speaker J. Dennis Robinson. Following the speaker, Past President Fred Boyle installed the newly elected President Ed Bachelder and the officers.
Writing full-time from his home on the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, J. Dennis Robinson (JDR) has written many books, including America's Privateer: Lynx and the War of 1812, which was our featured topic. JDR captured his audience as he vividly described the two schooners, both past and present, revealing the parallels of the era of the War of 1812 and present day, in that both ships were launched into waters of a nation at war.
JDR revealed that the idea of the first privateer Lynx came from Thomas Kemp, a shipwright from Maryland and this privateer was commissioned by President James Madison to fight alongside the American Navy in the War of 1812. JDR explained how the Lynx was issued a "letter of marque", a document authorizing the privateer to attack enemy merchant ships. One of seventeen ships in America's flotilla fighting against the British's mighty navy of 1000 ships in 1812, the Lynx made history. A two-masted topsail 122 foot schooner, the Lynx was distinctively different from the other ships of that era because of the sleek design, speed and maneuverability. Unlike pirate ships, the Lynx was armed with 6 pound cannons making her more than a match for the British merchant shipping, on which she preyed. JDR offered an upbeat slide show that revealed New Hampshire's reluctant role in what he described as "Mr. Madison's" war.
JDR engaged his audience even more showing slides of the modern day Lynx and its construction. Brought to life by Woodson K. Woods, a lifelong sailor, US Navy Veteran and President of the Board of Directors of the Lynx Education Foundation, the modern day Lynx was created at a cost of $3 million dollars. JDR educated us how Woods recreated the Lynx with the intention to teach young people about the adventure of sailing and the history of the War of 1812 and to keep American maritime history alive. This modern day Lynx sails up and down the American coasts and the world to promote Woods vision.
JDR's presentation on America's Privateer: Lynx and the War of 1812 concluded with much to ponder, stating, "Lynx forces us to consider exactly where patriotism ends and piracy begins. Lynx tells us where America comes from and asks where it is headed."
Piscataqua Pioneers members were excited to learn that the Lynx was scheduled to be arriving into Portsmouth July 30th through August 3rd to participate in the 2014 Portsmouth Schooner Fest. After the Schooner Fest, some members reported they witnessed the Lynx sailing off the shores of New Hampshire in all her beauty and other members reported taking a tour of this modern day Lynx while docked in Portsmouth, her hometown port.
Submitted by Ellen Dennett