National Archives at Boston

Cargo Preparations

New England Customs Records

The Cargo

Preparations and the Return of Goods

Preparations for a voyage began with having the cargo officially weighed, gauged, or measured as appropriate. Cargo was listed on the "Return of Goods" and showed the weight or quantities of goods. The cargo was not all prepared at the same time and there are usually several such documents for any voyage. Goods for the ship's cargo might also be weighed, gauged, or measured as much as two months before the voyage. After these certificates had been made out, permits were issued for the actual loading of the goods.

Refer to Caption Return of Goods Shipped for Exportation in the Ship Mount Vernon, May 19, 1803See Transcript

The "Return of Goods" also indicates where and when these goods were originally brought to Salem; much of it had been imported from the West Indies and the East Indies. This was a special situation that entitled the merchant to a refund of duties referred to as a "drawback".

Learn about:

Drawbacks and the Mount Vernon's Cargo
Origins of the Mount Vernon's Cargo