In 1863, a group of Northern speculators, led by Scovel S. Meriam, Augustus Price and Cornelius S. Bushnell formed a company to take advantage of a vote in the U.S. Congress to approve the use of privateers. However, when President Abraham Lincoln declined to accept the authority, construction of this consortium's submarine, the Intelligent Whale, languished. In 1864 the American Submarine Company was formed, taking over the interests of Bushnell and Price and there followed years of litigation over the ownership of the craft. The boat was eventually completed until 1866, long after the Civil War ended. When title was established by a court the submarine was sold on October 29, 1869 to the United States Navy Department, with most of the price to be paid after successful trials. In September 1872 the first trial was held and was unsuccessful, whereupon the Department refused further payments and abandoned the project.
The Intelligent Whale submerged by filling water compartments, and expelled the water by pumps and compressed air. It was estimated that it could stay submerged for about ten hours. Thirteen crewmen could be accommodated, but only six were needed to make her operational. The only known trial, reported by submarine pioneer John Holland, was made by a certain General Sweeney and two others. They submerged the boat in 16 feet of water and Sweeney, clad in a diver's suit, emerged through a hole in the bottom, placed a charge under a scow, and reentered the submarine. The charge was exploded by a lanyard and a friction primer attached to the charge sinking the scow.
As of June, 2007, this submarine is on exhibit at the New Jersey National Guard Militia Museum in Sea Girt, New Jersey.
A beautiful secondary vignette adorns the left side border. Certificate:
Capital Stock, unissued/uncanceled, 1800’sPrinter: Ford, Mayer & Sons, New York Dimensions:
7” (h) x 11 1/2” (w) State: NY-New York Subject Matter: Maritime and Related
| Ship Builders
| Unissued Pieces
| Dated 1800's Vignette Topic(s): Ship Featured
| Paddlewheeler Featured
| New York State Seal
| Multiple Scenes Condition:
No fold lines or cancels, and some toning and edge faults from age.