Over the past fifty years, historians have analyzed various aspects of the social history of seafaring in the eighteenth-century British navy. The Vietnam conflict was the initial spark that ignited the “new” military history, with its bottom-up approach to studying warfare. At the same time, New Left academics focused on the histories of military conscription and resistance among enlisted men. Both groups of scholars eventually turned their attention to Jack Tar, a generic name commonly applied to maritime laborers who served in the early modern British navy. Denver Brunsman, Leon Fink, Niklas Frykman, Jesse Lemisch, Marcus Rediker, Nicholas Rogers, and others have revealed a lot of the darker aspects of Jack Tar's life. Many maritime laborers were pressed, or forced, into the British navy. Naval discipline, including flogging, could be severe. Naval pay was never competitive with merchants’ wages, and a lot of veterans went completely unpaid. J. Ross Dancy,...

You do not currently have access to this content.