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[p. 81] heard on the banks of the Mystic. The first gun of the Civil War had sounded the knell of the merchant marine of the United States. The large carrying trade which our ships had enjoyed passed into other hands, and, in the interval, iron had superseded wood in the construction of ships. Competition with foreign builders had become impossible, for they had the advantage of us both in the cheapness of labor and materials. Worse than all—we had lost our grip.

It is a matter of regret and shame to all lovers of the Republic that the flag that once floated in every harbor of the world has now almost disappeared from the ocean; that the once successful commercial rival of Great Britain is now abjectly dependent upon her for the carriage of its own exports and imports. It is contrary to the genius of our people that this state of things should be permitted to continue forever; and when the conditions become more favorable, as they surely will, in the further development of our great industrial resources we may hope for the triumphant reestablishment of American commerce.

In the meanwhile we who can look back through a long vista of years dwell, perhaps too fondly, upon the past. The ship-builders of a generation ago, masters and men, have nearly all gone over to the silent majority; but they have left behind them the memory of successful industry and sturdy honesty, and of a matchless skill in the noblest of all arts—the building of ships. Medford should never cease to do honor to the memory of those great mechanics, and it has done well to engrave upon its municipal seal the beautiful and appropriate device of the launching ship.

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