Margaret Anne Tockarshewsky, Executive Director, New Haven Museum

203-562-4183, ext. 120,

Julie Winkel, Media Specialist,                                                                                                             



Privateering in the American Revolution 

at New Haven Museum

New Haven, Conn. (January 12, 2023) – According to historian Eric Jay Dolin, a crucial element missing from most maritime histories of the American Revolution is the ragtag fleet of private vessels—from 20-foot whaleboats to 40-cannon men-of-war— that played a key role in winning the war. Dolin will fill in the blanks during a spirited Zoom presentation for the New Haven Museum, “Rebels at Sea: Privateering in the American Revolution,” on Thursday, February 22, 2024. at 6 p.m. Register here. This free NH250 event will also stream on FB Live.

Laden with tales of daring maneuvers and deadly encounters, Dolin will present the American Revolution as few have encountered it. He contends that privateers—armed vessels owned and outfitted by private individuals who had government permission to capture enemy ships in times of war—were often seen as profiteers at best, and pirates at worst, but were in fact critical to the Revolution’s outcome. Armed with cannons, swivel guns, muskets, and pikes, thousands of privateers tormented the British on the broad Atlantic and in bays and harbors on both sides of the ocean. Connecticut provided roughly 200 privateers to the war effort. 

Dolin became interested in the topic while writing his earlier book, “Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates.”  He says, “When I gave talks on ‘Black Flags,’ people always seemed very interested in privateering, and invariably asked me if privateers were just ‘licensed pirates.’” While digging deeper, it became clear to him that the role of privateering in the Revolution had been largely ignored in the history of the conflict, “I hope those attending gain a better understanding of privateering, and that they leave believing that privateering was critical to winning the war,” he says.

About Eric Jay Dolin

Dolin is the author of 15 books, including “Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America,” which was chosen as one of the best nonfiction books of 2007 by the Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe, and also won the 2007 John Lyman Award for U.S. Maritime History, and was an “Editor’s Choice” selection by the New York Times Book Review. His most recent book before “Rebels at Sea” is “A Furious Sky: The Five-Hundred-Year History of America’s Hurricanes,” which was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize, and was chosen as one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, Booklist, Library Journal, and the editors at Amazon. It was also selected as a “Must-Read” book by the Massachusetts Center for the Book for 2020, as an “Editor’s Choice” selection by the New York Times Book Review and was the winner of Atmospheric Science Librarians International Choice Award for History. “Rebels at Sea” was awarded the Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award and the Samuel Eliot Morison Book Award for Naval Literature, given out by the Naval Order of the United States; and was a finalist for the New England Society Book Award and the Boston Authors Club Julia Ward Howe Book Award. It was also selected as a “Must-Read” book for 2023. Dolin is a graduate of Brown, Yale University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received his Ph.D. in environmental policy.

About NH250

This event is part of NH250, an ongoing series of programming developed by New Haven Museum to complement “America 250.” Culminating with the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the series will highlight inclusive, local, and lesser-known stories, connecting past and present. 

About the New Haven Museum

The New Haven Museum has been collecting, preserving and interpreting the history and heritage of Greater New Haven since its inception as the New Haven Colony Historical Society in 1862. Located in downtown New Haven at 114 Whitney Avenue, the Museum brings more than 375 years of New Haven history to life through its collections, exhibitions, programs and outreach. As a Blue Star Museum, the New Haven Museum offers the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve, free admission all year. For more information visit  or @NewHavenMuseum or call 203-562-4183.


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