Changing the Flag: The Cloak of Newfoundland Registry for American Rum-Running, 1924-1934 -

Changing the Flag: The Cloak of Newfoundland Registry for American Rum-Running, 1924-1934

Mark C. Hunter
University of Hull, United Kingdom

1 USING REGULAR AND SECRET DISPATCHES between London, St. John's, and Washington, intelligence lists of suspect vessels, vessel crew agreements, and data from the Atlantic Canada Shipping Project [ACSP], this paper assesses the Newfoundland government's perspective on policing rum-running to the United States, and the reaction of the rumrunners themselves. It shows that the nature of Newfoundland's government and economy was such that during the 1920s the colony provided a safe haven for rumrunners.1 During the American Civil War, Atlantic shippers who dealt with the southern United States faced increased transaction costs, and as a result shifted their activities to intermediary points outside the North's blockade zone.2 Similarly, because of the nature of American policing during the 1920s, liquor smugglers came under increased pressure from British and US authorities. Faced with a crackdown, culminating in 1926-7 with the implementation of formal intelligence sharing to enforce a 1924 anti-liquor smuggling treaty, many rumrunners shifted their flags to Newfoundland. Their actions, and Newfoundland's reaction, demonstrate how the country's economic means shaped its external affairs policies. With few resources even to enforce prohibition within Newfoundland, policing rumrunners who hid under Newfoundland registry was impossible, even when London urged St. John's to do so.

2 The development of Newfoundland's governmental infrastructure was slow, and its status within the Empire fragile. Both were functions of a narrowly based economy which supported a relatively small population. Nevertheless, once the colony possessed responsible government (1855), it was regarded as constitutionally equal to the other colonies of settlement, and came to be regarded as one of the dominions. Following World War I, however, the Newfoundland government lost interest in actively controlling its external affairs, and left such matters to London. By 1923, the Foreign Office took the view that there were two types of dominions: those like Canada, which London consulted on foreign affairs as an equal, and Newfoundland. Even after the Balfour Declaration (1926) promised the equality of Britain and the dominions, Newfoundland remained indifferent.3 Britain routinely consulted Newfoundland about issues which affected it — such as the 1924 liquor treaty with the United States, though it did not make any "declaration as to the extent of its application." W.G. Gilmore notes that Newfoundland sometimes attended international meetings, and other times, though invited, was absent. For instance, Newfoundland accepted Canada's invitation to attend a Canada-US fish-eries meeting in 1920 and to participate in the creation of the International Committee on Marine Fishery Investigations. Furthermore, Newfoundland occasionally participated in discussions on radio frequency allocation, and, while it made postal agreements with the United States, was happy to be represented by Britain in the Universal Postal Union. Gilmore concludes that Newfoundland's external affairs infrastructure was in "disorder." Professionalization began only in 1931, after the passage of the Statute of Westminster, when a Department of External Affairs was created — at least on paper.4 Thus the situation was that Newfoundland's relations with Britain were nebulous, its external affairs competence was slight, and its administrative infrastructure inadequate. These factors — plus financial stringency — directly affected Newfoundland's willingness and ability to comply with Britain's policy of doing what it could to help the US government catch rumrunners.

3 Prohibition came into effect in the United States on 16 January 1920 under the terms of the Eighteenth Amendment to the US Constitution and the Volstead Act, which defined alcoholic drinks, by volume, as any beverage with more than 0.5 percent alcohol. The constitutional amendment banned the import and export of alcohol, its manufacture, and consumption within American territory. The prohibition era lasted until late 1933, when, during the height of the Great Depression, the measure was repealed. Prohibition thus restricted American access to alcohol for thirteen years; still, Americans could obtain alcohol illegally by smuggling it from jurisdictions such as Canada, and from Newfoundland and St-Pierre, where alcohol controls were less stringent for export and transshipment.5

4 Canada also experimented with prohibition, during World War I and during the years following. Many believed that liquor was the root of lower-class poverty, and threatened business and society. Greg Marquis argues that as society industrialized factory owners sought greater control over their works and the reliability of sober employees.6 Moral and evangelical reform movements joined in to provide a program for lower-class improvement which could provide an alternative to Bolshevism.7 However, which level of government had the right to regulate alcohol was at first uncertain. The federal government claimed such authority because trade, law, and order fell under its jurisdiction. Provincial governments asserted that they had the right to oversee alcohol use because it was a civil rights and "property" issue. In 1896 and 1901, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council ruled that though Ottawa could regulate the "manufacturing and inter-provincial distribution" of liquor, actual sales were a provincial responsibility.8 Alcohol regulation in Canada was therefore a shared responsibility.

5 Many Canadians became convinced during the war that drinking alcohol diverted resources from fighting the enemy.9 Prince Edward Island was already dry in 1901. Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Alberta, and Ontario followed suit in 1916, and Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and British Columbia enacted prohibition in 1917. Finally, the Yukon and Quebec banned liquor sales in 1918 and 1919 respectively. In response, the federal government limited alcohol content in any beverage to 2.5 percent, but permitted alcohol for private use within the home. Citizens could obtain medicinal alcohol legally with a doctor's prescription, and Ottawa permitted the distillation and brewing of alcohol beverages, of any strength, for export. Canadians also obtained liquor from bootleg operations, by smuggling, and by mail order. To stem the tide of illegal supplies, Ottawa barred the international and inter-provincial alcohol trade from 1918 to 1 January 1920. Thereafter, alcohol exports to the US were permitted on payment of an export duty. Exports elsewhere were not taxed, and Canadian liquor could be shipped to St-Pierre or Newfoundland, and then smuggled into the United States — or into dry parts of Canada. As a result the provinces were allowed a voice, and in 1923-4 Maritime governments closed bonded warehouses used for alcohol export, thus restricting transshipment through the Maritimes into the United States. Moreover, the Maritime provinces were the last to end prohibition: New Brunswick in 1927, Nova Scotia in 1930, and Prince Edward Island not until 1948. After prohibition ended, provinces sold alcohol only through government stores.10

6 Prohibition in nearby Newfoundland lasted from 1917 to 1924. The dynamics of prohibition there, and the policing of rum-running, reflect the trends found elsewhere. The Methodist church was the main promoter of prohibition, along with the Women's Christian Temperance Union and William Coaker, leader of the Fishermen's Protective Union [FPU].11 It took World War I, and patriotic demands to conserve scarce resources, to convince enough Newfoundlanders to vote for prohibition. A plebiscite occurred in 1915, and the government implemented the law on 1 January 1917. Thereafter, alcohol imports, sales, and distribution were banned, except for medicinal alcohol obtained by prescription and near-beer sales of beverages containing less than 2 percent alcohol by volume. But, as elsewhere, an underground economy fed continued demand for drink. Doctors issued copious numbers of prescriptions, illegal stills condensed weaker brews into stronger beverages, and trade continued and expanded between Newfoundland and St-Pierre.12

7 St-Pierre was a focal point in the illicit liquor trade in the northwest Atlantic. France imposed import restrictions on most of its colonies after the war in order to conserve foreign currency reserves. The ban included molasses, sugar, and alcohol. St-Pierre residents realized that prohibition in the United States offered a lucrative business opportunity, and when import restrictions ended in April 1922, liquor started to flow into St-Pierre for transshipment elsewhere. The profits transformed the fishing islands into a prosperous community. Merchants acted as liquor brokers and charged warehousing fees to store alcohol temporarily. Canadians shipped cargos of liquor in bond to St-Pierre, received a stamp on their papers to show they had landed the liquor, and then returned the goods to Canada for illegal sale. Smugglers followed similar procedures for delivery to the United States. By the late 1920s, large foreign companies, mainly distilleries, dominated the St-Pierre liquor trade, and "St. Pierre merchants, initially in charge of all the business, were relegated to the role of jobbers."13 Atlantic rum-running was a profitable business which found ways to circumvent the extra transaction costs that governments imposed. Accordingly, rumrunners also came to favour hiding under the registry of a jurisdiction ill-equipped to stop their activities, rather than operating in the Maritimes where stricter liquor controls remained in place.

8 Newfoundland Customs laws gave smugglers an advantage similar to that provided by St- Pierre. Unlike in the Maritimes, Newfoundland warehouses remained open for the transshipment of alcohol during the 1920s and Americans were anxious to use them. Dillon and Ross of Holyoke, Massachusetts, wrote to the government several times requesting information about bonded warehouses for alcohol transshipment.14 The Deputy Minister of Justice, P.J. Summers, explained the Newfoundland law: the word ‘ import' did not include liquor in transit or part of ships' stores, nor wines imported to be matured and re-exported.15 Thus liquor brought into Newfoundland for re-export was invisible in the eyes of the law. On 6 July 1926, for instance, the Eastern Liquor Company landed sixteen cases of whiskey at Corner Brook for transshipment. The Customs department concluded that since the liquor "might be consumed on board, transferred on the high seas or landed anywhere" it would not interfere.16 The government was not concerned with what happened to liquor so long as bonds or duties were properly paid. On 7 July 1926, I.J. Klein of United Distillers, Ltd., Montreal, asked "if liquor can be shipped to your city and then to be exported from there in bond." The Minister of Justice, W.J. Higgins, replied that Klein could transship liquor through St. John's, but "[d]uty [was] payable on entry [at] twelve and a half cents per gallon."17 In September 1927, the Justice department issued a further opinion: under the Customs acts, "where goods are entered outwards in transit to some place outside this Colony, it is no part of the duty of the Customs to require any evidence as to where those goods go, or whether they actually go to the place for which they were entered outwards." Furthermore, "it would seem that goods in transit and in bond are not ‘ imported,' and, therefore, from the point of view of the said Act are not in the Colony" and could be shipped.18

9 Consequently, Anglo-American anti-smuggling efforts faced a Newfoundland government that was willing to turn a blind eye towards smuggling activity and ensure that revenues were protected. When the government contemplated tightening the laws, a Justice department official concluded in 1932 that if "you insisted that a place outside the Colony meant a place on land outside the Colony, bonds would have to be given for delivery of the liquor at such place, and the present high seas bootlegging business would disappear altogether, with consequent loss of $20,000 to the [Customs] revenue" — presumably from liquor imported into Newfoundland and then secretly transported to vessels offshore for delivery elsewhere.19 Liquor smuggling operated by laws of supply and demand, taking the path of least legal resistance in order to make a profit. The Newfoundland government was clearly aware of the benefits it received from the rum-running business.

10 The level of political control that a jurisdiction has over a region, and its economic condition, shape smugglers' behaviour and the response to their activities. David J. Starkey has shown that such activity emerges in times of economic dis-equilibrium: stolen and smuggled goods feed the marketplace until employment opportunities improve and legitimate merchants can provide a steady supply. This phenomenon occurs in the wake of major wars when demobilized soldiers and sailors re-enter the labour market while normal trading patterns remain disrupted.20 In turn, David M. Williams argues that faced with high transaction costs imposed by tariffs merchants smuggle goods to avoid tariffs that hurt their profits.21 In addition, smugglers will shift their flag to those countries with weak enforcement regimes.22 Only when their activity conflicts with national and international political and economic interests do governments crack down on their activities.23 Consequently, the behaviour of smugglers can be an important litmus test for the relationship between a society's economy and its international relations.

11 During the period of this study, Newfoundland's economy was weak and its government was unable to meet international policing requests. The country had emerged from World War I with a large public debt and faced seriously adverse conditions in the fish trade. It possessed an economy subject to the whims of the international commodity marketplace.24 The efforts of successive governments to diversify and improve the economy were insufficient to change the overall situation. Newfoundland was what Richard Parnell has described as a chronically weak state, where the maritime activities that other states deemed illegal, like smuggling, grew.25 Facing severe and intractable financial and economic problems, the government had to administer the country through a ramshackle bureaucracy, stumbling from crisis to crisis.26 Newfoundland's own prohibition law was largely unenforceable in the face of popular resistance, economic uncertainty, and a lack of policemen and magistrates.

12 Society generally tolerated alcohol because it played an important traditional and economic role in maritime communities, especially those with limited economic opportunities, like Newfoundland. Janet Noel notes that merchants were involved in the liquor business, and employed lower-class sailors and fishermen.27 In Eastern Canada, employers and workers used liquor as a form of currency, and boats brought fish to the West Indies to exchange for rum.28 In the Maritime provinces, Ernest Forbes concludes, liquor smuggling — rum-running — was a safety valve for unused economic resources: it was "a re-deployment of the resources of the fisheries" and "employer of last resort" during the hard times of the 1920s. Moreover, Maritime governments realized that to police rumrunners meant revenues from liquor law fines. Forbes notes that the "advent of the more complete prohibition of the 1920's greatly enhanced revenues from this source."29 With restrictions on alcohol in both Canada and the United States, an underground economy emerged to supply thirsty customers. Police and Customs officials tried to stop rumrunners, but soon concluded that given stretched police resources and an unco-operative public, such efforts were futile.30 Smuggled liquor was a lucrative business in a region with a poor economy and high unemployment.

13 In Newfoundland, the local constabulary did what it could, but outside St. John's there were only scattered constables in the outports to enforce prohibition regulations.31 Moreover, justices of the peace and Customs officers were often the same person and had many duties to perform. For example, at Tilt Cove in 1912, one man acted as Customs officer, telegraph operator, and justice of the peace.32 The Customs service was small, with few resources for investigation and enforcement. The 1926-7 Newfoundland budget estimates indicate that the only port of registry, St. John's, had an Inspector of Customs, one Inspector of Preventative Service, a Registrar of Shipping, a Clerk and Surveyor of Shipping, and only one Customs detective. There were Customs collectors in 145 outport communities, but these were most likely patronage appointments and it is doubtful they were Customs enforcement officers. Nevertheless, there was a Protection of Revenue Service for the island's west coast, with a budget of $24,050, but the number of officers attached to the unit is not known.33 Regardless, the unit was so ill-equipped in 1933 that officers at Corner Brook had to hire a private tug to transport them to the Marion and Rita, suspected of liquor smuggling. The vessel escaped after a gun fight, and, because the officers had arrived in a private rather than a government vessel, the accused later claimed that they had thought modern-day pirates were boarding them.34 Ian McDonald concludes that "the Newfoundland government had acquired little administrative experience or formal administrative machinery"; this was equally true for aspects of policing and Customs enforcement.35

14 In 1919, the government headed by Richard Squires established a royal commission to study the impact of the country's prohibition law. The commission concluded that the underground economy, including local stills and smuggling from St-Pierre, weakened prohibition, but offered few suggestions on what to do.36 Squires, as a lawyer, had represented fishermen from Flat Island, Bonavista Bay, accused in 1919 of producing and distributing alcohol they made with stills. The courts postponed the case repeatedly, and, once Squires was prime minister, the case disappeared. Squires admitted that enforcing the law was pointless without the active cooperation of the people, and the Newfoundland Constabulary's Inspector General complained that he had limited resources and that his men had other laws to enforce as well.37 Furthermore, the government was dependant on Customs duties for revenue; under prohibition, the revenue from liquor duties had fallen from $270,843.23 in 1916 to $48,784.31 in 1919.38 In 1923, Squires, far from a tee-totaller, was accused of "borrowing" money from the Liquor Controller's office and, embroiled in controversy and facing a cabinet revolt, resigned.39 Thomas Hollis Walker, who investigated the accusations against Squires, concluded that "the civil service [was] over-worked, badly trained, inefficient, and in some instances corrupt."40

15 Newfoundland was a failed state, or "lost country," in the truest sense of the term; its government was often in crisis and policing its shores was the least of its concerns.41 Squires told Reverend Ira F. Curtis that domestic demand for liquor was great, and enforcement problematic "where Policeman and Magistrates are exceedingly few and far-between."42 In 1924 a conservative government led by Walter Monroe took office. He ended prohibition in August 1924, also recognizing the impossibility of enforcement and the chronic need for revenue. Reaction was muted, but Methodists disapproved of a measure which established "the economic and industrial life of the country" by throwing "open the doors of government saloons to the youth of our land." Still, The Evening Telegram advised its readers to keep an "open mind."43 Undoubtedly, merchants met repeal with glee. Monroe's Colonial Secretary and "minister responsible for the act," was J.R. Bennett, partner in the Bennett Brewing Company. It had seen little work since prohibition and had almost gone bankrupt. Meanwhile, Monroe did little to improve the government bureaucracy.44 By 1927 the government faced a $3 million deficit and in 1932 rioters stormed the Colonial Building. Squires, again prime minister, fled for his life, and in December 1933, the House of Assembly voted itself out of existence and a Commission of Government, composed of three Newfoundlanders and three British representatives, ruled the country from February 1934 until 1949.45

16 Newfoundland was marked by political instability and was disposed to turn a blind eye to rum-running. Newfoundland's position was problematic for Britain, and, not until responsible government collapsed and London had a direct hand in running its affairs, did St. John's become more responsive to British demands to help police liquor smuggling. As a cross-jurisdictional issue, the general nature of Anglo-American relations influenced discussions on maritime policing, and Britain wanted greater help from Newfoundland to appease the United States.46 Britain and the United States were allies during the war, but relations were difficult in its aftermath. The balance of power had shifted towards the United States, and Britain was for the first time a debtor nation.47 By 1923, "Britain had to accept full repayment [of war debt], at a fairly high rate of interest, and a scaling down of her demands on her former allies and Germany."48 British acquiescence to American demands that it help it police rum-running was part of the wider British policy of cooperation.

17 To enforce the prohibition laws, Americans seized British-flagged ships beyond the American three-mile limit. In 1924, the US Coast Guard increased its presence off the Atlantic seaboard along "Rum Row," bordering the three-mile limit, where up to 100 mother ships serviced smaller boats that ran alcohol ashore.49

18 These actions threatened the anticipated revival of Anglo-American trade and were an "unwelcomed complication" in Anglo-American relations. In response, American Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes proposed a treaty which would permit British ships to carry sealed liquor inside US waters, if American authorities were allowed to search suspects up to twelve miles from shore. However, British Foreign Secretary George Curzon, an imperialist who looked back fondly to the glory days of the Empire, opposed the treaty on the grounds that Washington wanted to curtail Britain's maritime rights and constrain the freedom of the seas. But Foreign Office officials urged Curzon to accept the proposal to prevent Washington from acting unilaterally. Furthermore, Phillip Lloyd-Greame at the Board of Trade warned Curzon that his position would "undermine the Baldwin government's efforts to revitalize the depressed shipbuilding industry," and he threatened to bring the matter to Cabinet. Curzon dithered until the 1923 Imperial Conference in hope of finding allies, but he discovered that only New Zealand and Newfoundland supported his position — the latter's prime minister, William Warren, simply thought that the treaty was useless. The British Department of Agriculture and Fisheries had reservations, presumably because the treaty would set a precedent whereby a country could exercise its exclusive sovereignty up to twelve miles from shore. But in the end Curzon acquiesced.50

19 As a result, the British government agreed in 1924 to a treaty that (it was hoped) would allow British shipping to recover its business without undue interference from American patrols. The initial draft proposed that both governments could stop each other's ships within twelve miles of British or American waters to determine if the vessel alone, or in cooperation with other ships, had violated the laws of either country. But the final treaty limited the terms to alcohol, and the distance to how far a suspect could travel in one hour from the American coast. However, in practice, the Americans continued to assume a twelve-mile, or greater, limit.51 Nevertheless, the compromise upheld the British view that territorial waters only extended three miles, but recognized the need for US authorities to stop suspect vessels farther away or pursue them into international waters.52 Lawrence Spinelli contends that the treaty "reduced the emotionalism of the liquor issue" and allowed Anglo-American relations to become more relaxed in the mid-1920s.53 Consequently, Britain ratified the treaty on 22 May 1924, and, on 17 November, London informed Newfoundland and other British colonies and dominions that the treaty was in force.54

20 Spinelli notes that the liquor treaty caused rumrunners operating from the Bahamas to shift their operations to Canada, where Britain initially adopted a policy of "noninvolvement" in liquor smuggling issues.55 This stance changed as a result of the most famous case of a vessel stopped by the US coast guard during the treaty period, that of the schooner I'm Alone, built in Lunenburg specifically for the liquor trade. The I'm Alone Shipping Company of Lunenburg was the legal owner, fronting for "a consortium of American bootleggers." The vessel ran liquor from St-Pierre to the United States from 1924 to 1928, but "never strayed into U.S. territory where she would have forfeited her immunity as a British vessel." The I'm Alone hid for months, but the US Coast Guard Ship Wolcott found the rumrunner in March 1929. Believing erroneously that the suspect was inside the twelve-mile pursuit zone, the Wolcott followed the I'm Alone and, when it refused to heave to, opened fire. One man was killed, the I'm Alone took on water, and the crew abandoned ship.56

21 Legally, this was a Canadian-owned ship in international waters, outside the distance set by the Anglo-American treaty. A Canada-US arbitration panel, established under the terms of the liquor treaty, concluded that the Coast Guard's actions were illegal, and the United States paid $50,666.50 in damages. The incident showed how rumrunners could cloak their activities under foreign registry and complicate policing efforts. Robert Webb concludes that the incident "left a legacy of legal confusion and official frustration for government officials and [US] Coast Guardsmen who were struggling to enforce an unpopular and unwieldy constitutional law."57 The incident also annoyed British officials because, despite Canadian assurances that liquor controls would be tightened, the traffic continued. When Ramsay MacDonald, the new British prime minister, visited the United States for talks with President Hoover about a variety of issues, he agreed to pressure Canada to stop clearing vessels loaded with alcohol for the United States. The Canadian press supported the American position, and Prime Minister William Mackenzie King agreed.58 However, the treaty and its aftermath had little impact in Newfoundland. Thus, as pressure mounted elsewhere, rumrunners took advantage of local Customs laws and the fact that the colony's officials lacked the resources to do more than check the validity of a vessel's registry.59

22 In order to analyze statistically the Newfoundland-registered vessels that authorities suspected of smuggling liquor to the United States between 1926 (when US authorities began compiling lists of suspect vessels) and 1933, I compiled a database of 546 ships from intelligence lists created by the American authorities with the assistance of British consular officials in major US ports.60 Of these, 298 were believed to be of Canadian or Newfoundland registry. The British government distributed the lists to dominion and colonial governments, with the request that local Customs authorities should keep watch for the vessels, and strip them of their British registry unless they were genuinely entitled to protection under the British flag. The object of the exercise was to prevent rumrunners from using flags of convenience with which to hide their activities.

Figure 1. Total Number of Suspect Vessels Smuggling Liquor to the US Source: Memorial University of Newfoundland, Maritime History Archives [MHA], Keith Matthews Series 3, file 2.074, H.W. LeMessurier, Deputy Minister of Customs and Registrar of Shipping, to Arthur Mews, Deputy Colonial Secretary, 31 May 1928 and J. Middleton to J.H. Thomas, Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, 14 December 1931 and file 2.082, J.H. Thomas to Governor Admiral Sir Murray Anderson et al., 31 August 1933; Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador [PANL], GN 1/2/0, "Vessels reported to be engaged in the smuggling of liquor into the United States," enclosure in no. 945, Secret, J.S. Amery to Sir W.L. Allardyce, 9 November 1926; "Vessels reported to be engaged in the smuggling of liquor into the United States," enclosure in no. 393, Secret, J.S. Amery to Sir W.L. Allardyce, 8 April 1927; "Vessels reported to be engaged in the smuggling of liquor into the United States," enclosure in no. 1035, Secret, [illegible] to Sir W.L. Allardyce, 14 October 1927; "Vessels reported to be engaged in Smuggling Liquor into the United States," enclosure in no. 414, Secret, Jno. Thomas to Sir J. Middleton, Governor, 12 September 1931. Note: While the 1928 intelligence report was used to determine those vessels on 3+ reports, it was omitted from this graph because the number of vessels is so low in the extant report that, graphed separately, it substantially skewed the graph.

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Table 1. Top Five Ports of Registry for Regular Suspects, three-plus reports, 1926-33

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23 Figure 1 shows that the total number of all suspect vessels, regardless of nationality or the number of times they appeared in reports, fell during 1926-7 and rose again in the early 1930s. In contrast, those on more than three lists remained constant, at approximately 81 ships. It should be noted that individual ships which appeared on three reports may have left the trade to be replaced by other vessels. This finding is consistent with the estimates of other scholars. Craig Heron, for instance, states that in total approximately 100 vessels served "Rum Row."61 Vessels on fewer than three intelligence reports were removed from the list in order to eliminate those falsely suspected or rarely engaged in smuggling. This process generated the names of 151 distinct vessels that authorities deemed to be regular smugglers.62

24 The ACSP database held descriptive data for only 35 of these 151 vessels(23.2%). These were necessarily registered in Newfoundland and the Maritime provinces, given the nature of the database.63 Twenty-five were hybrid sail-steam vessels, seven were sail-only schooners, while only three were fuel-only. The average suspect had one deck, two masts, and was about 100 feet long, 22 feet wide, with a depth of 10 feet. The average gross tonnage was 124 tons, while net tonnage was about 107 tons. For those ships with engines, the average horsepower was 14.6. Regular rumrunners were sleek vessels able to quickly smuggle liquor past the authorities.64 From the intelligence reports, the top five ports of registry (Table 1) were St. John's, Lunenburg, Vancouver, Halifax, and Bridgetown, Barbados.65

25 These ports had ready access to the United States, but were far enough away to be clear of American authorities. The pattern is similar to that which Ashcroft observed for the Civil War blockade era.66 French registry appeared at least fifteen times for those ships deemed regular suspects, but not specific French ports. Presumably, this was because the investigators were more interested in those vessels that claimed British or American registry. In terms of overall ownership patterns (Table 2), the ACSP database provided data on 77 of the 298 Canadian and Newfoundland suspects.67 Most of them were owned by shipping companies and merchant/mariners.68 However, it is unclear if all owners were involved knowingly, or if the smuggling was just carried out by crew members.

Table 2. Top Fourteen Owners of Suspect Vessls, 1926-33

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26 Faced with a crafty enemy that operated from a variety of ports around the northwest Atlantic, the Americans and the British responded with a web of intelligence. Beginning in 1926, the United States sent lists of suspect vessels to Britain, which were forwarded to Newfoundland.69 The Dominions Office warned the Governor of Newfoundland, Sir W.L. Allardyce, that ministers should maintain strict secrecy about this operation.70 London explained that if the company owning a vessel operated outside British dominions, then it was "not entitled to be registered as owner of a British ship." In the case of vessels acquired from foreigners, registrars had to be especially careful in inspecting the authenticity of documents.71 If they had sufficient evidence that a vessel applying for British registry was involved in smuggling, registrars should "place all possible impediments in his way and delay or even refuse the necessary formalities [British documents]," especially if it was "owned or controlled in America." London wanted to help Washington as much as possible by "way of administrative action up to the extreme limit permitted by our existing laws."72 London hoped that intelligence, and administrative actions against the smugglers, would prevent dubious vessel transfers and stifle the trade. But because of Newfoundland's Customs laws and lax policing, smugglers used Newfoundland registry. Indeed, as the crackdown continued, smugglers increasingly shifted their vessels' registries from ports in the Maritime provinces to Newfoundland.

27 For each intelligence report filed between 1926 and 1933, I collected ownership data from the ACSP database for Newfoundland-registered ships suspected of smuggling liquor to the United States, so long as they appeared in three or more intelligence lists. While the sample remains smaller than I would like, with some missing data early in the series, Canadian ownership of Newfoundland-registered vessels became common during the late 1920s and clear by the early 1930s (Figure3). Moreover, the official figures show a general downward trend in the number of Canadian-registered ships and an increase in the number of Newfoundland-registered ships, while the number of "usual suspects," those on three or more reports, regardless of port of registry, remained about constant (Figure 2) — 81 ships. Data from the ACSP database reveals that from the outset of the intelligence gathering effort there was Canadian ownership of Newfoundland-registered vessels (Figure 3). Then, owners gradually switched a large number of vessels that they had registered in Canadian ports to registry in Newfoundland and Barbados. Of 34 Canadian vessels that switched registry and remained on the suspect list, twelve switched to the Newfoundland. Of these, five switched in 1927, one in 1930, and six in 1931.73 Moreover, these trends reflected the timing of the implementation of the liquor treaty, the intelligence sharing protocols, the US Coast Guard's attack on the I'm Alone in 1929, and the associated increase in pressure on the Canadian government for action. Although these statistics are from official sources, the large number of openly Newfoundland-registered, Canadian-owned vessels certainly underscores a larger trend of Canadians hiding their activities under Newfoundland registry and escaping the notice of the authorities.

Figure 2. Suspect Vessels in at Least Three Reports. Source: See Figure 1 and ACSP database.

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Figure 3. Ownership Patterns of Newfoundland-Registered, Regular Suspects. Source: See Figure 1 and ACSP database.

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28 The advantage offered by Newfoundland registry was clear, because local authorities investigated and tracked vessel ownership with a marked lack of efficiency. Of the Sunner, for example, suspected of liquor smuggling in late 1926, "Newfoundland Customs authorities knew nothing ... until she came into the possession of Mr. Penny," and the ship was now "loading fish at this port for export." Governor Allardyce told the British ambassador in Washington that the ship had never "cleared in any port of Newfoundland for Havana, Cuba" or to the high seas. Consequently, "[a]s she has never obtained clearance in Newfoundland on false pretences, no action lies against her master or owner."74 Meanwhile, to other requests for specific investigations, the government gave only evasive replies. On 25 January 1927, Allardyce told the Dominions Office that all suspect vessel registrations were in good order, adding that the "Registrar is very careful with regard to British Registry and will continue to exercise such care, especially bearing in mind the illicit liquor traffic with the United States."75 The governor made similar comments in later years, with little difference in the wording, and with no indication that Newfoundland took British requests seriously.76 Allardyce simply questioned "assumptions that because of the latter [Anglo-American] Convention, persons engaged in the illicit liquor traffic are to a considerable extent abandoning ports in Nova Scotia for those in Newfoundland."77

29 Yet, rumrunners did exploit Newfoundland, a fragile link in the intelligence and enforcement chain. The statistical analysis of ports and vessel owners above suggests that owners were Canadian, and St. John's was a popular port of registry. But the small sample size for which data was found necessitates several vignettes to illustrate the actual behaviour of the rumrunners. Their cargo loaded, suspected rumrunners from Newfoundland ports traveled south to non-American destinations and could claim that they were on a legitimate voyage elsewhere when the authorities confronted them. Nelson Dicks, for example, lived in Sydney, Nova Scotia, and registered his ship, the Thea, in Newfoundland. However, the registry noted that Samuel Hardy, from Port aux Basques, owned the ship on behalf of Dicks and gave the latter "some protection from the Canadian authorities should his schooner run afoul of Canadian laws."78 If operating from Newfoundland, under the terms of Newfoundland Customs laws respecting liquor transshipment, Dicks had broken no laws.79 During 1926-7, another ship, the Chautangua, transferred its registry to St. John's, soon after it appeared in intelligence reports, but remained under the same owner, Jeremiah Petite, a "mariner," of Halifax, Nova Scotia.80 A1927 voyage brought the Chautangua along the American seaboard, near "Rum Row" off New York. The vessel left St. John's in late April and arrived at Bahia Blanca on 24 May. On 6 July, it was at Saint John, New Brunswick, and in August it departed Halifax for Barbados, where it arrived on 1 October.81

30 According to the official voyage records, the ship remained in the Caribbean, stopped at the Turks Islands on 26 October, and then returned north. Crisscrossing a wide region from north to south, the schooner could have rendezvoused with faster liquor-transport vessels, and then proceeded onward with her legitimate voyage, the authorities none the wiser.82 The case of the Chautangua suggests the strategy of suspected liquor smugglers once they became known to enforcement agencies. Moreover, as policing efforts continued, smugglers used technological adaptations and Newfoundland markings to throw the authorities off their trail. On 16 December 1930, for instance, the US Coast Guard captured the Maskinonge, an "oil-screw vessel" from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, at the mouth of the Sakonnet River, Rhode Island. The Malagash Fishing Company, Lunenburg, owned the ship, but had registered it at St. John's a month earlier. The vessel was "the most up-to-date craft especially equipped with a radio and smoke screen apparatus for the smuggling trade." The vessel's lawyer, Daniel T. Hagan, admitted that she had violated American law and "therefore there will be no complaint made by the owners to the Canadian government."83

31 The arrest on 26 August 1930 of the auxiliary schooner Nova V, also registered at St. John's but owned by William Basil Moriarty of Halifax, illustrates further the tactics smugglers used to elude detection. Her mate, John McLeod, who used the alias John Davis, had been involved in liquor smuggling to the United States before, and was wanted on an outstanding warrant. The ship had radio operators to coordinate smuggling activities and the Coast Guard explained to the British Consul General at New York that the radio equipment was "was thrown overboard before the seizure of the vessel." In addition, US authorities found "name plates marked ‘ Munengetcre of St. John's, N.F.,' apparently intended to be placed over the name and home port on the hull of the vessel to disguise her identity."84 Indeed, this practice may explain why some suspected Newfoundland ships are missing from the ACSP database, making the statistical analysis so problematic. On board, the US Coast Guard found rye, gin, and whisky worth US$200,000 at "bootleg prices." Yet the captain and crew claimed they were lost in fog en route from St. John's to Bermuda. Moriarty also owned two other suspected rumrunners, the Apohaqui and the Ocean Maid. The latter vessel appeared in all extant intelligence reports during the period 1926-33; it switched to Newfoundland registry in 1927, and continued operations.85 The case of the Nova V and her sister ships owned by Moriarty reveal that rumrunners saw advantages in associating with Newfoundland, obtaining liquor there, and trying to smuggle it into the United States.

32 Significant pressure on St. John's-registered rumrunners came only after the introduction of greater British control through the Commission of Government.86 The Amulree commission criticized Newfoundland's bureaucratic immaturity and in response the new Commission government reorganized many departments, including Customs.87 Britain loaned a member of its Board of Customs, P.D.H. Dunn, to Newfoundland as Customs Inspector, adviser, and Chairman of the Customs Board and Board of Liquor Control.88 Then, in December 1934, the Commissioner of Finance, E.N.R. Trentham, a Briton, put the Mercantile Marine Office under Customs department supervision to ensure better vessel inspections.89 Before the reforms, two detectives and four excise officers inspected vessels and warehouses in St. John's. Henceforth, a senior preventive officer, two preventive officers, six preventive men, and two detectives would probe any discrepancies and thoroughly question those involved.90 Beyond St. John's, the Commission also pensioned elderly employees, increased training, and concentrated foreign trade in major communities for inspection.91 Finally, in April 1935, the government purchased two former rumrunners and converted them into Customs vessels to police the seas.92 By April 1938, the governor asserted that "the increased efficiency of the Customs Department in general, and the Cutter Service in particular, has led to a very considerable reduction in smuggling."93

33 In the international realm, the Commission government admitted that parties exported large quantities of liquor bound for the "high seas" or "Bermuda" from bonded warehouses in St. John's. Further investigations revealed that from 1 July 1934 to 24 January 1935 16 gallons of "alcohol and spirits" had been exported to Canada, 1,665 gallons to St-Pierre, 3,300 gallons to the United States, and 106,040 gallons to the British West Indies.94 At the same time, the Roosevelt administration urged London in 1934 to "secure the extension of these restrictions [against rum-running] to Newfoundland" to prevent Customs' revenue losses now that prohibition had ended.95 Consequently, on 23 February 1935, London told Washington that "the Newfoundland government would enact stricter regulations" to stop liquor smuggling into the United States.96 Thus, under British direction, Newfoundland cooperated. The Commission compiled its own data on suspect smugglers, forwarded the reports to London, and confessed that the ships noted in their reports (Table 3) were "in each case owned and controlled by persons resident in other countries."97 Further scrutiny, for example, showed that the Casanova was registered to the Cashin Import and Export Company of Newfoundland, but the "real owner is suspected to be a Captain Moriarty of St. Pierre who is a notorious smuggler of goods into the United States of America." The governor assured London that Newfoundland was monitoring Moriarty's activities and that "any information regarding him is communicated to the American Consul General in St. John's direct."98

Table 3. Vessels cleared from St. John's with Liquor, 1 July 1934 to3 January 1935

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34 During the 1920s, Newfoundland lacked the proper government apparatus through which to manage the country's international interests and left external affairs to London. Nevertheless, preventing rumrunners from smuggling liquor into the United States, then under prohibition, was a challenging international dilemma. Britain agreed in 1924 to help the United States police rumrunners by allowing the US Coast Guard to pursue suspects up to twelve miles from American shores. This undertaking inevitably involved Canada and Newfoundland. Subsequently, the US and Britain established an intelligence sharing protocol to track suspect smugglers and investigate their right to protection under British registry. London expected local authorities to ensure that only those ships entitled to the protection of the British flag registered in imperial ports, including St. John's. Consequently, London forwarded lists of suspect vessels to St. John's and expected the government to check the legitimacy of the papers that belonged to any Newfoundland vessels on the list. But Newfoundland lacked the resources and the will to cooperate effectively in a coordinated and sustained manner. It was unable to enforce its own prohibition law from 1917 to 1924, and thereafter, like St-Pierre, took advantage of the money that it could make from the transshipment of alcohol to destinations elsewhere. Consequently, from 1924 to 1933 the government acknowledged receipt of correspondence from Britain regarding Anglo-American efforts to cooperate to police rumrunners, but did little else. The smugglers were not seen as an important issue and, not surprisingly, weak enforcement efforts attracted smugglers to Newfoundland registry.

35 Between 1926 and 1933, approximately 81 ships serviced thirsty Americans, smuggling alcohol from Newfoundland or St-Pierre to the United States, though ostensibly bound elsewhere. These ships were relatively small, equipped with sail and fuel engines, and often had wireless facilities to coordinate operations. In the Atlantic, their owners based the vessels out of strategically located ports, just beyond the range within which the US Coast Guard could stop them. However, as the rumrunners came under more intense American policing efforts, and the 1924 treaty came into force along with the web of Anglo-American intelligence, the smugglers shifted their registry to St. John's.

36 Without a professional and devoted external affairs department, or strong police and Customs force, stopping the rumrunners was far from Newfoundland's most pressing concern. Newfoundland matches the characteristics seen elsewhere that permits pirates and smugglers to thrive. Moreover, the dynamics of Newfoundland's response to liquor smuggling reveals much about how St. John's viewed foreign affairs issues. Gilmore notes that Newfoundland was content to leave such matters to Britain because St. John's lacked the governmental structures to deal with these issues in a sustained manner. Newfoundland was an inactive agent in international affairs, unless something, typically economic, threatened its interests directly. Even then, as a poor state, it relied on strong leaders to sustain diplomatic efforts, and, beyond talk, it could do little. Newfoundland's response to liquor smuggling to the United States shows that a region's economic abilities and needs are just as important in formulating its response to external affairs as the status of its political development. With a poor economy and no institutionalized external affairs department, Newfoundland was unable to respond well to British requests to stop vessels from smuggling liquor to the United States. Newfoundland's reaction only changed with the new Commission regime that came to power in 1934 and Britain controlled Newfoundland's domestic, international, and financial affairs completely.


1 The author would like to thank the Smallwood Foundation for the funding for the research presented in this paper.

2 Neil Ashcroft, "British Trade with the Confederacy and the Effectiveness of Union Maritime Strategy during the Civil War," International Journal of Maritime History 10.2 (December 1998), 155-176.

3 William C. Gilmore, Newfoundland and Dominion Status: The External Affairs Competence and International Law Status of Newfoundland, 1855-1934 (Toronto: Carswell, 1988), 77, 80-82, 88, 102, 139.

4 Gilmore, Newfoundland and Dominion Status, 96-99, 130-135.

5 The rise and fall of prohibition in the United States is beyond the scope of this paper and the literature on this topic is vast. For a recent introduction to the subject see, for example, James A. Morone, Hellfire Nation: The Politics of Sin in American History (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003), 281-344.

6 Greg Marquis, "Alcohol and the Family in Canada," Journal of Family History 29.3 (July 2004), 309-310.

7 Mariana Valverde, The Age of Light, Soap, and Water: Moral Reform in English Canada, 1885-1925 (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, Inc., 1991), 15-29, and Janet Noel, Canada Dry: Temperance Crusades before Confederation (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995), 9-10. Although some refer to Janet Noel as "Jan," the 1995 study provides the name "Janet" and catalogues use that name.

8 Craig Heron, Booze: A Distilled History (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2003), 156-157.

9 Heron, Booze, 178-182, and Robert A. Campbell, Demon Rum or Easy Money: Government Control of Liquor in British Columbia from Prohibition to Privatization (Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1991), 20.

10 Heron, Booze, 236-237, 246-248, 269-270.

11 Herbert A. Batstone, "Methodism in Newfoundland: A Study of its Social Impact" (Master of Sacred Theology thesis, McGill University, 1967), 90-91, 112-119; Hans Rollmann, "Laurence Coughlan and the Origins of Methodism in Newfoundland," in Charles H.H. Scobie and John Webster Grant, eds., The Contribution of Methodism to Atlantic Canada (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1992), 62-67; Margot Iris Duley, "‘ The Radius of Her Influence for Good': The Rise and Triumph of the Women's Suffrage Movement in Newfoundland, 1909-1925," in Linda Kealey, ed., Pursuing Equality: Historical Perspectives on Women in Newfoundland & Labrador (St. John's, NL: ISER Books, 1993, reprint 1999), 16-19, 33-34, 61; William G. Bartlett, "Prohibition Era in Newfoundland, 1915-1924" (undergraduate essay, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1971), 13, 28; Smallwood asserts that "it was his [Coaker's] influence which finally secured the passing of the Prohibition Act" (J.R. Smallwood, Coaker of Newfoundland [1927; reprint, Port Union, NL: Advocate Press, 1998], 72). Ian McDonald offers little comment on Newfoundland's prohibition era and the foundation of Coaker's philosophy is unclear. Nevertheless, his beliefs were similar to those of other North American labour leaders who felt that alcohol was a bourgeois weapon to keep the workers passive, while unions also wished to ease upper-class fears that they threatened society's order (McDonald, "To Each His Own": William Coaker and the Fishermen's Protective Union in Newfoundland Politics, 1908-1925 [St. John's, NL: ISER Books, 1987], 17-18, 78; James H. Timberlake, Prohibition and the Progressive Movement, 1900-1920 [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1963], 82-93; and Heron, Booze, 213-214). In 1915, for instance, the FPU thanked Coaker for his prohibition efforts because it "opened the eyes of thousands who hitherto opposed us on the grounds that we were determined to tear down and not build up" society (W.F. Coaker, History of the Fishermen's Protective Union [St. John's: Union Publishing Co., 1920], 101).

12 Newfoundland, 6 Geo. V, c. 9 (1915), "The Prohibition Plebiscite Act, 1915"; Newfoundland, 6 Geo. V, c. 9 (1916), "Intoxicating Liquors Prohibition Act, 1916"; Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador [PANL], GN 6, Royal Commissions 1919-1921, Royal Commission on Prohibition Plebiscite Act (1915); and PANL, GN 8/2, Prime Ministers' Papers, Richard Squires, file GN 8.160 Prohibition folder 1, Report of the Royal Commission on the Prohibition Plebiscite Act (1915), 20 May 1921. For Newfoundland prohibitionists' wartime opinion, see, for instance, "Pause and Consider," Daily News,4November 1915, p. 4. For more about Newfoundland's prohibition era see also S.J.R. Noel, Politics in Newfoundland (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1971), 131-133, 165, 180; Patrick O'Flaherty, Lost Country: The Rise and Fall of Newfoundland, 1843-1933 (St. John's, NL: Long Beach Press, 2005), 274; Heron, Booze, 180; Batstone, "Methodism in Newfoundland," 90-91, 112-119; and Bartlett, "Prohibition Era in Newfoundland."

13 J.P. Andrieux, Prohibition and St. Pierre (Lincoln, ON: W.F. Rannie, 1983), 17, 18, 30-39, 71. Andrieux has had substantial access to the files of actual rumrunners and has published extracts in this collection and others (see n. 78 below).

14 PANL, GN 13/1/B, Department of Justice, box 171, file 27, "Prohibition 1919-1924," Arthur Mews, Deputy Colonial Secretary to P.J. Summers, Deputy Minister of Justice, 7 May 1924.

15 PANL, GN 13/1/B, Department of Justice, box 171, file 27, "Prohibition 1919-1924," Deputy Minister of Justice to Arthur Mews, Deputy Colonial Secretary, 6 June 1922.

16 PANL, GN 13/1/B, Department of Justice, box 173, file 23, "Liquor Control Board Matters, 1925 to 1929," H.W. LeMessurier, Deputy Minister of Customs to Hon. J.W. Higgins, Minister of Justice, 23 July 1927.

17 PANL, GN 13/1/B, Department of Justice, box 173, file 23, "Liquor Control Board Matters, 1925 to 1929," I.J. Klein to Attorney General, St. John's, 7 July 1926 and W.J. Higgins, Attorney General to I.J. Klein, United Distillers, Limited, Mount Royal Hotel, Montreal, 9 July 1926.

18 PANL, GN 13/1/B, Justice Department, box 173, file 23, "Liquor Control Board Matters, 1925 to 1929," Minister of Justice to H.W. LeMessurier, 20 September 1927.

19 PANL, GN 13/1/B, Justice Department, box 172, file 50, "Liquor Control Board Matters 1931 to 1933," "Memo, for Minister," 12 November 1932.

20 David J. Starkey, "Pirates and Markets," Research in Maritime History 7 (December 1994), 59-80.

21 David M. Williams, "Customs Evasion, Colonial Preference and the British Tariff, 1829-1842," in Lars Scholl, ed., Merchants and Mariners: Selected Maritime Writings of David M. Williams (St. John's, NL: International Maritime Economic History Association, 2000), 157-183.

22 Such action, historically, has precipitated diplomatic tension between the nation that wants the activity policed, in the case of the slave trade, Britain, and those nations whose enforcement efforts were lacking, such as the United States before the Civil War (Howard Jones, To the Webster-Ashburton Treaty: A Study in Anglo-American Relations, 1783-1843 [Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977], 73-77, 104-143, 161-176, and Hugh Graham Soulsby, The Right of Search and the Slave Trade in Anglo-American Relations, 1814-1862 [Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1933], 88-117). See also, Mark C. Hunter, "The Political-Economy of Anglo-American Naval Relations: Pirates, Slavers and the Equatorial Atlantic, 1819 to 1863" (PhD thesis, University of Hull, UK, 2003), 124-142, and "The Hero Packs a Punch: Sir Charles Hotham, Liberalism, and West Africa, 1846-50," Mariner's Mirror, forthcoming.

23 Jennifer Marx, for instance, notes that piracy arose in times of political uncertainty and when law enforcement was poor (Marx, Pirates and Privateers of the Caribbean [Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing Company, 1992], 1, 284-291). But Robert Ritchie asserts that as the Atlantic economy grew, people no longer needed pirates to supply them with goods. Instead, ‘ legitimate' merchants met demand. In turn, piracy began to harm the trade of nation-states, like Britain, who then reined in pirates and put them on trial in admiralty courts (Ritchie, Captain Kidd and the War against the Pirates [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986], 12, and "Government Measures against Piracy and Privateering in the Atlantic Area, 1750-1850," in David J. Starkey, E.S. van Eyck van Heslinga, and J.A. de Moor, eds., Pirates and Privateers: New Perspectives on the War on Trade in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries [Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1997], 10-27). Meanwhile, socially, Marcus Rediker surmises that pirates established themselves as communist societies in opposition to the capitalist world that they felt excluded them (Rediker, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates, and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750 [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987], 261-262. For a further discussion see Daniel Vickers et al., "Roundtable: Reviews of Marcus Rediker, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750, with a Response by Marcus Rediker," International Journal of Maritime History 1.2 [December 1989], 311-357). See also Mark C. Hunter, "Anglo-American Political and Naval Response to West Indian Piracy," International Journal of Maritime History 13.1 (June 2001), 63-93, and "Piraten im Golf von Mexiko im frühen 19. Jahrhundert," in Hartmut Roder, ed., Piraten — Abenteuer oder Bedrohung? (Edition Temmen, 2002), 52-65. English translation available upon request from the author.

24 David Alexander, "Newfoundland's Traditional Economy and Development to 1934," Acadiensis 5.2 (Spring 1976), 74-78, and R.A MacKay, ed., Newfoundland: Economic, Diplomatic, and Strategic Studies (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1946), 190.

25 Richard Pennell, "State Power in a Chronically Weak State: Spanish Coastguards as Pirates, 1814-50," European History Quarterly 25.3 (1995), 353-379.

26 James K. Hiller, "Newfoundland Confronts Canada, 1867-1949," in E.R. Forbes and D.A. Muise, eds., The Atlantic Provinces in Confederation (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993), 365, and O'Flaherty, Lost Country, 292-316.

27 Noel, Canada Dry, 30-31. For more on the historical use of alcohol in Newfoundland see Peter Pope, "Fish into Wine: The Historical Anthropology of Demand for Alcohol in Seventeenth-Century Newfoundland," in Jack S. Blocker, Jr. and Cheryl Krasnick Warsh, eds., The Changing Face of Drink: Substance, Imagery, and Behaviour (Ottawa, ON: Les Publications Histoire Sociale/Social History Inc., 1997), 54-56.

28 James Moreira, "The Tradition of Rum: Rum in the Atlantic Provinces," in James H. Morrison and James Moreira, eds., Tempered by Rum: Rum in the History of the Maritime Provinces (Ports Lake, NS: Pottersfield Press, 1988), 15-20.

29 Ernest Forbes, "Rum in the Maritimes' Economy during the Prohibition Era," in Morrison and Moreira, eds., Tempered by Rum, 103-108.

30 Greg Marquis, "The History of Policing in the Maritime Provinces: Themes and Prospects," Urban History Review 19.2 (October 1990), 91-93, and Heron, Booze, 136, 236, 240-258.

31 Greg Marquis, "The ‘ Irish Model' and Nineteenth-Century Century Canadian Policing," Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 25.2 (May 1997), 194-212.

32 Curt T. Griffiths and Simon N. Verdun-Jones, Canadian Criminal Justice, 2nd ed. (Toronto: Harcourt Brace Canada, 1994), 59; George J. Coughlan, "Police and Firemen in Newfoundland," in J.R. Smallwood, ed., The Book of Newfoundland, II (1937; reprint, Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson [Printers] Ltd., 1968), 79; and Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, s.v. "Police."

33 Newfoundland, House of Assembly, Journal of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland (St. John's, NL: The House of Assembly, 1926), Appendix, 304-310, 312; M. Batterson, D.G.E. Liverman, J. Ryan and D. Taylor, The Assessment of Geological Hazards and Disasters in Newfoundland: An Update (St. John's: Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Department of Mines and Energy, Geological Survey, 1999) <>; and Jeff A. Webb, "Outports," <>. Leslie Harris depicts at least nineteen "Customs Officers" in pre-Confederation Newfoundland, but it is unclear where they were stationed (Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, s.v. "Smuggling").

34 PANL, GN 8/6, Prime Minister's Papers, Frederick C. Alderdice, file GN 8.246, Smuggling, "Statement of Titus Conrad, Master of the ‘ Marion & Rita,' Lunenburg, N.S., 3 August 1933," enclosure in O.D. Skelton, for the Acting Secretary of State for External Affairs, [Canada], to F.C. Alderdice, 15 August 1933; [illegible name] Deputy Minister of Customs to F.C. Alderdice, Prime Minister, 5 June 1933; Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs, [Newfoundland], to Secretary of State for External Affairs, [Canada], 29 June 1933; and O.D. Skelton, for the Acting Secretary of State for External Affairs, [Canada], to F.C. Alderdice, 15 August 1933.

35 McDonald, To Each His Own, 48-49.

36 PANL, GN 8/2, Prime Ministers' Papers, Richard Squires, file GN 8.160 Prohibition folder 1, Report of the Royal Commission on the Prohibition Plebiscite Act (1915), 20 May 1921.

37 Daily News, 7 July 1919; PANL, GN 8/2, Prime Ministers' Papers, Richard Squires, file GN 8.160 Prohibition folder 1, Charles H. Hutchings, Inspector General Constabulary, to P.J. Summers, Deputy Minister of Justice, 1 November 1921 and Richard Squires to Rev. T. Albert Moore, Wesley Building, Toronto, 10 February 1922.

38 Compiled from Newfoundland, Customs Returns for the Year Ended 1916 (St. John's, NL: King's Printer, 1916), and Newfoundland, Customs Returns for the Year Ended 1919 (St. John's, NL: King's Printer, 1919).

39 R.M. Elliott, "Newfoundland Politics in the 1920's: The Genesis and Significance of the Hollis Walker Enquiry," in James Hiller and Peter Neary, eds., Newfoundland in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: Essays in Interpretation (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1980), 185-186, 196.

40 McDonald, To Each His Own, 125.

41 War debt charges totaled $1.75 million while the government bailed out an unprofitable railway at a cost of $1.3 million. Furthermore, by 1921, the island faced a glut of Labrador fish that drove prices down and triggered a depression. Newfoundland's financial situation worsened over 1920-4 and its debt load steadily grew from $43 million to $60 million (Peter Neary, ed., The Political Economy of Newfoundland, 1929-1972 [Vancouver, BC: Copp Clark Publishing, 1973], 18-19). See also, O'Flaherty, Lost Country, 292-375, 385-388, 408, and Hiller, "Newfoundland Confronts Canada," 358-360.

42 PANL, GN 8/2, Prime Ministers' Papers, Richard Squires, file GN 8.160 Prohibition folder 1, Richard Squires to Rev. Ira F. Curtis, Springdale, 27 March 1920.

43 "Correspondence between Prime Minister and Rev. J.T. Newman," Daily News,21 August 1924, p. 5; "Protest from Bonavista Methodist District Meeting," Daily News, 15 August 1924, p. 4; and "Why Question the Sincerity?," Evening Telegram, 15 August 1924,p. 6.

44 Noel, Politics in Newfoundland, 179-185, and 180 n. 76; Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, s.v. "Breweries"; and O'Flaherty, Lost Country, 310, 320, 326.

45 For standard accounts of the collapse of Newfoundland's responsible government and the installation of the Commission of Government, see Noel, Politics in Newfoundland, 186-214, 219-243, and Peter Neary, "Great Britain and the Future of Newfoundland, 1939-45," Newfoundland Studies 1.1 (1985), 29-56. See also, Neary, Newfoundland in the North Atlantic World, 1929-1949 (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1988; reprint 1996); Patrick O'Flaherty, "‘ Holding the Baby': Parliamentary Responses in Britain and Newfoundland to the Crisis of 1931," Newfoundland Quarterly 32.2 (Summer/Fall 1997), 23-32, and O'Flaherty, Lost Country, 376-409. James Overton concludes that Newfoundland's elites "proved incapable of imposing by force the policies which would have saved the country from financial disaster" (Overton, "Economic Crisis and the End of Democracy: Politics in Newfoundland During the Great Depression," Labour/Le Travail 26 [Fall 1990]: 85-124).

46 Historians have seen Britain and America as either enemies, friends, or gradually cooperative, depending on the circumstances. H.C. Allen believes the Anglo-American special relationship developed during the world wars with the common threat of Germany. Charles S. Campbell and Kenneth Bourne agree that the Anglo-American friendship came late and only in the early twentieth century when Britain wanted America's help during problems with China and Germany (H.C. Allen, Great Britain and the United States: A History of Anglo-American Relations (1783-1952) [London: Odhams Press Ltd., 1954], 2, 17; CharlesS. Campbell, Anglo-American Understanding, 1898-1903 [Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1957], 1-24, 346-347; Kenneth Bourne, Britain and the Balance of Power in North America, 1815-1908 [London: Longmans, 1967], 3-10). For the wider debate in the historiography, see H.C. Allen, "Two Hundred Years: Anglo-American Relations," Encounter 46.1 (1976), 66-70, and D. Cameron Watt, Succeeding John Bull: America in Britain's Place, 1900-1975 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 20-23.

47 Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (London: Fontana Press, 1988; reprint 1989), 254-265, 290-299, 312-321. While the United States never truly threatened British maritime prowess, many in Britain feared it would, and Britain was wary of starting a naval arms race with the United States (Michael G. Fry, Illusions of Security: North Atlantic Diplomacy, 1918-22 [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1972], 39-42).

48 P.J. Cain and A.G. Hopkins, British Imperialism, 1688-2000, 2nd ed. (1993; reprint, London: Longman, 2001), 453, and Frank C. Costigliola, "Anglo-American Financial Rivalry in the 1920s," The Journal of Economic History 37.4 (December 1977), 911-934. See also Watt, Succeeding John Bull, 48-68. Watt concludes that post-war relations between Britain and the United States were tense during an era "in which the nationalists on each side very largely made the running." Nevertheless, Watt also contends that the periods 1924-6 and 1929-31 were ones of cooperation (Watt, Succeeding John Bull, 50-51). Michael G. Fry, who looked specifically at the period 1918-22, believes that elites in the United States, Britain, and the dominions governed relations. They were divided into Atlanticists, who wanted "sustained and complete co-operation" between Britain and America; "the skeptics, whose disillusionment bred cynicism; and those who became frankly hostile" to Anglo-American cooperation after the war (Fry, Illusions of Security, 5-6).

49 Heron, Booze, 247.

50 Lawrence Spinelli, Dry Diplomacy: The United States, Great Britain, and Prohibition (Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 1989), 60-65, 73-79, 155, and n. 34. Warren briefly succeeded Squires in 1923 (O'Flaherty, Lost Country, 320).

51 PANL, GN 1/2/0, Dominions Office [DO] Letters Received, 1923, H.G. Chilton to Lord Curzon, 14 June 1923, with draft treaty enclosure, enclosure in Devonshire to Sir W.L. Allardyce, 1 August 1923, and D.K. Adams, ed., British Documents on Foreign Affairs: Reports and Papers from the Foreign Office Confidential Print. Part II: From the First to the Second World War. Series C: North America, 1919-1939, vol. 3, Enforcement of Prohibition and Immigration Controls, Feb. 1921-Nov. 1938 (Frederick, MD: University Publications of America, 1986), doc. 95, "Treaty Respecting the Regulation of the Liquor Traffic." Even with the treaty, Washington believed that it could act unilaterally, beyond the three- or twelve-mile limits, if activity outside US territory impacted the American homeland (PANL, GN 1/2/0, DO Letters Received, 1925, W.E. Beckett, "Seizure of the S.S. ‘ Quadra,'" 7 August 1925, enclosure in no. 711, Secret, L.S. Amery to Sir W.L. Allardyce, 11 September 1925 and PANL, GN 1/2/0, DO Letters Received, 1927, H.C. Chilton to Sir Austen Chamberlain, 29 October 1926, enclosure in no. 293, Secret, J.S. Amery to Sir W.L. Allardyce, 12 March 1927).

52 PANL, GN 1/2/0, DO Letters Received, 1924, "Treaty respecting the Regulation of the Liquor Traffic," enclosure in no. 151, [illegible] to Sir W. L. Allardyce, 27 February 1924.

53 Spinelli, Dry Diplomacy, xvi, 157, 159.

54 PANL, GN 1/2/0, DO Letters Received, 1924, no. 640, [illegible], for the Secretary of State, to Sir W.L. Allardyce, 11 August 1924, with treaty enclosure; and [illegible], Dominions Office to Sir W.L. Allardyce, 17 November 1924.

55 Spinelli, Dry Diplomacy, 128-129.

56 Robert Webb, "The Most Famous Rum-Runner of Them All," Nova Scotia Historical Review 2.1 (1982), 34-41.

57 Webb, "Most Famous Rum-Runner," 41-43.

58 Spinelli, Dry Diplomacy, 131-136.

59 With the exception of William Reeves' study, there has been a dearth of analysis of Newfoundland-US relations before World War II, in particular during the immediate post-World War I era. See, for example, William G. Reeves, "The Fortune Bay Dispute: Newfoundland's Place in Imperial Treaty Relations under the Washington Treaty, 1871-1885 (MA thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1971), and A.M. Fraser, "Fishery Negotiations with the United States," in MacKay, ed., Newfoundland, 333-410.

60 Memorial University of Newfoundland, Maritime History Archives [MHA], Keith Matthews Series 3, file 2.074, H.W. LeMessurier, Deputy Minister of Customs and Registrar of Shipping, to Arthur Mews, Deputy Colonial Secretary, 31 May 1928, and J. Middleton to J.H. Thomas, Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, 14 December 1931, and file2.082, J.H. Thomas to Governor Admiral Sir Murray Anderson et al., 31 August 1933; PANL, GN 1/2/0, "Vessels reported to be engaged in the smuggling of liquor into the United States," enclosure in no. 945, Secret, J.S. Amery to Sir W.L. Allardyce, 9 November 1926; "Vessels reported to be engaged in the smuggling of liquor into the United States," enclosure in no. 393, Secret, J.S. Amery to Sir W.L. Allardyce, 8 April 1927; "Vessels reported to be engaged in the smuggling of liquor into the United States," enclosure in no. 1035, Secret, [illegible] to Sir W.L. Allardyce, 14 October 1927; "Vessels reported to be engaged in Smuggling Liquor into the United States," enclosure in no. 414, Secret, Jno. Thomas to Sir J. Middleton, Governor, 12 September 1931.

61 Heron, Booze, 247.

62 For the purposes of statistical analysis of ports of registry and ownership patterns, I have focused on those ports and owners that appeared in many reports. This procedure should eliminate those vessels and owners that rarely participated in liquor smuggling or those that authorities might have wrongly accused. The analysis thus focuses on owners and vessels that authorities clearly believed were rumrunners. These suspects fit the type of smugglers that economists deem as organized and regular rather than casual operators (Richard P. Saba, T. Randolph Beard, Robert B. Ekelund, Jr., and Rand W. Ressler, "The Demand for Cigarette Smuggling," Economic Inquiry 33 [April 1995], 189-190).

63 The Atlantic Canada Shipping Project [ACSP] database only records vessel data for the following Atlantic Canadian ports between 1787 and 1936: St. John's, Newfoundland; Sydney; Halifax; Pictou; Windsor; Yarmouth; Charlottetown; Saint John, New Brunswick; Miramichi; and Richibucto. The database also contains records for Bermuda (Memorial University of Newfoundland, Atlantic Canada Shipping Project, Ships and Seafarers of Atlantic Canada [CD-ROM] [St. John's, NL: Maritime History Archives, 1998]).

64 For more details on the design of vessels involved in rum-running, see D.A. Walker, "Rum-Running and Vessel Design," in Morrison and Moreira, eds., Tempered by Rum, 143-152.

65 For example, the Alcala was on three reports; the Dorin,5;the George and Earl,6; the Josephine K,4;the Radio One, 3; and the Reo, 3 reports. Owners registered all these vessels at Digby, Nova Scotia; therefore, I analyzed Digby as appearing 24 times in the intelligence reports. However, for the purposes of analysis, if an owner(s) registered a vessel in more than one of these ports, but switched it, I also counted the other port. What the study assessed was port preference, rather than the actual vessel itself.

66 See n. 2.

67 For various reasons, I was unable to find information in the ACSP database for the remaining Canadian or Newfoundland vessels. For example, if I was unable to confirm that the vessel in the ACSP database and that on an intelligence report were the same vessel, the information was omitted. Meanwhile, a vessel may also have not been in the ACSP database because the intelligence list had its port of registry wrong.

68 To extrapolate ownership concentration, the number of times each ship owned by an individual appeared in intelligence reports was aggregated. For example, between them, George and Philip Lake owned three vessels, the Grace Darling, Marion Mosher, and Vivian Ruth. Therefore, the analysis counts the Lakes as appearing three times from 1926 to 1933; where a vessel had more than one owner, they were consolidated, e.g., George and Philip Lake, so that each vessel had one owner for the purposes of statistical analysis.

69 PANL, GN 1/2/0, DO Letters Received, 1926, no. 930, Secret, J.S. Amery to Sir W.L. Allardyce, 9 November 1926.

70 PANL, GN 1/2/0, DO Letters Received, 1926, no. 713, Secret, J.S. Amery to Sir W.L. Allardyce, 23 August 1926.

71 PANL, GN 1/2/0, DO Letters Received, 1926, "Examination of Registration of British Vessels reported to be Engaged in the Smuggling of Liquor into the United States," enclosure in no. 945, Secret, J.S. Amery to Sir W.L. Allardyce, 9 November 1926.

72 PANL, GN 1/2/0, DO Letters Received, 1926, Interdepartmental Memo, "Liquor Smuggling in the United States," enclosure in no. 217, Confidential, J.S. Amery to W.L. Allardyce, 6 March 1926.

73 See n. 60, and ACSP database.

74 PANL, GN 1/1/7, Dispatches to the Colonial Office, Secret & Confidential, 1927-35, file "Secret, 1927," W.L. Allardyce, Governor, to Sir Esme W. Howard, Washington, 22 January 1927 enclosure in Allardyce to L.S. Amery, Confidential, Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, 22 January 1927.

75 PANL, GN 1/1/7, Dispatches to the Colonial Office, Secret & Confidential, 1927-35, file "Secret, 1927," W.L.A. [W.L. Allardyce] to L.S. Amery, Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, Secret & Confidential, 25 January 1927.

76 For example, see PANL, GN 1/1/7, Dispatches to the Colonial Office, Secret & Confidential, 1927-35, file "Secret, 1930," [illegible] to Lord Passfield, Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, Secret, 19 May 1930.

77 PANL, GN 1/1/7, Dispatches to the Colonial Office, Secret & Confidential, 1927-35, file "Secret, 1927," W.L.A. [Allardyce] to L.S. Amery, Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, Secret, 1 December 1927.

78 J.P. Andrieux, Over the Side: Stories from a Rumrunner's files from Prohibition Days in Atlantic Canada and Newfoundland (Lincoln, ON: W.F. Rannie, 1984), 54-55, 57. See also, Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, s.v. "Smuggling."

79 For a broader descriptive analysis of alcohol smuggling through the Canadian underground economy, see Heron, Booze, 246-263.

80 PANL, GN 1/2/0, DO Letters Received, "Vessels reported to be engaged in the smuggling of liquor into the United States," enclosure in no. 945, Secret, J.S. Amery to Sir W.L. Allardyce, 9 November 1926. The vessel was built in Liverpool in 1918 and was a one-deck, three-mast schooner. It was 137 feet long, 33 feet wide, with a depth of 12 feet and net tonnage of 342 tons, with a crew of seven (ACSP database and PANL, GN 44/1, Mercantile Marine Office agreements and accounts of Crews, 1919-1938, #36-53, Reel #3, Aa-2-3, no. 46, Chautangua, 1927).

81 PANL, GN 44/1, Mercantile Marine Office agreements and accounts of Crews, 1919-1938, #36-53, Reel #3, Aa-2-3, no. 46, Chautangua, 1927.

82 PANL, GN 44/1, Mercantile Marine Office agreements and accounts of Crews, 1919-1938, #36-53, Reel #3, Aa-2-3, no. 46, Chautangua, 1927.

83 PANL, GN 1/2/0, DO Letters Received, 1931, Henry D.C. Dubois, British Vice Consul, Providence, Rhode Island to E.F. Gray, British Consulate-General, Boston, 24 December 1930 and R.I. Campbell, British Embassy, Washington, D.C., to Arthur Henderson, London, enclosure in no. 41, John Thomas to Sir J. Middleton, Governor, Newfoundland, 20 January 1931.

84 PANL, GN 1/2/0, DO Letters Received, 1930, Captain Randolph Ridgely, Jr., U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, New York Division to British Consul General, New York, 3 September 1930, enclosure in no. 416, Thomas, Downing Street, to Governor Sir J. Middleton, 8 October 1930.

85 "Coast Guard Seizes $200,000 Sum Ship," New York Times, 28 August 1930, p. 21; ACSP database and n. 60 above.

86 See n. 45.

87 Britain, Newfoundland Royal Commission 1933, Report (London: His Majesty's Stationary Office, 1934), 566. See also Elliot, "Hollis Walker Enquiry," 197-198; Terry Bishop Stirling, "The Amulree Report: An Introduction," in Garfield Fizzard, ed., Amulree's Legacy: Truth, Lies and Consequences Symposium March 2000 (St. John's, NL: Newfoundland Historical Society, 2001), 20-22; and O'Flaherty, Lost Country, 402-406. For an overview of the function of the Commission Government, see Noel, Politics in Newfoundland, 219-243.

88 The National Archives [TNA], Britain, DO 114/59, Newfoundland Affairs, Correspondence, 1934-36, no. 84, Dispatch to Newfoundland Government, 27 June 1934 and no. 85, Telegram to Newfoundland Government, 12 October 1934.

89 TNA, DO 35/491, Dominions Office and Commonwealth Relations Office: Original Correspondence, 1915-1971, Certified Minutes of the Honourable Commission of Government, 12 December 1934.

90 PANL, GN 38/S7, Commission of Government, Department of Finance, box 2-3, f. 27, Confidential, E.N.R. Trentham, Commissioner for Finance, to the Secretary of the Commission, 9 April 1934, enclosure, "Proposals for the Reorganisation of the Customs Service at St. John's."

91 TNA, DO 114/59, Newfoundland Affairs, Correspondence, 1934-36, no. 88, Despatch from Newfoundland Government, D. Murray Anderson, Governor, 17 April 1935. This dispatch is also available as PANL, GN 38/S7, Commission of Government, Department of Finance, box 3-1, file 2, no. 97, D. Murray Anderson, Governor, to J.H. Thomas, Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, 17 April 1935.

92 Andrieux, Over the Side, 126-128. See also Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, s.v. "Smuggling" for more details on Newfoundland's historical Customs' enforcement.

93 PANL, GN 38/S7, Commission of Government, Department of Finance, box 3-1, file 2, Customs Reorganization, Confidential, Humphrey Walwyn, Governor, to Malcolm Mac-Donald, Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, 21 April 1938.

94 PANL, GN 1/1/7, Dispatches to the Colonial Office, Secret & Confidential, 1927-35, file "Secret 1935," W.H. Horwood, Administrator, to J.H. Thomas, Confidential, 21 February 1935.

95 Spinelli, Dry Diplomacy, 141.

96 Spinelli, Dry Diplomacy, 141.

97 PANL, GN 1/1/7, Dispatches to the Colonial Office, Secret & Confidential, 1927-35, file "Secret 1935," W.H. Horwood, Administrator, to J.H. Thomas, Confidential, 21 February 1935.

98 PANL, GN 1/1/7, Dispatches to the Colonial Office, Secret & Confidential, 1927-35, file "Secret 1935," D. Murray Anderson, Governor, to J.H. Thomas [Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs], Secret, 27 April 1935.

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