The National Archives at New York City

The World's Port

The World's Port, through documents of the National Archives

Criminal Intent

During peacetime and war, the captain, crew, and passengers had to be concerned with major disruptions that could threaten the survival of the entire ship. After the dust settled, the Federal courts would be used to judge criminals or divide the spoils of war.

Indictment of Cornelius Wilhelms and Others, March 14, 1839
Records of District Courts of the United States


Murder and Mayhem

In Murder and Mayhem, the stories of mutineers, pirates, and slave-traders is presented through indictments, depositions, and testimony that bring these stories to life.

Indictment of Albert Hicks, April 1860
Records of District Courts of the United States

Tried as a pirate for robbery, Albert Hicks was sentenced to be hanged on Bedloe's Island on July 13, 1860. The spot where 50,000 spectators watched the last public execution in New York City is now the site of the Statue of Liberty.

An Enemy Belligerent

In An Enemy Belligerent, the story of the southern blockade runner the Mary and the northern navy steamer USS Mackinaw are explored through prize case files.

Receipt for Purchase of Slave, September 20, 1864
Records of District Courts of the United States

Among the material seized from the ship Mary were 13 slave receipts. In a 3-month period, Captain Johnson bought 18 slaves for a total of $64,200.


The World's Port exhibit reflects primary source documents can tell important stories of our past, that the National Archives has these documents, and that they are available for everyone to learn from and discover.

The World's Port exhibit ran from September 21, 2012 through November 25, 2012 at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House at One Bowling Green, New York, NY.

The National Archives at New York City >

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
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