Francisco in 1856—94 days from New York—followed by the Antelope, 97 days; Phantom, 101 days; and David Brown, 103 days; the Ringleader made the passage from Boston in 100 days. The abstract log of the Sweepstakes is as follows:
|From Sandy Hook to the equator…||18||days.|
|From the equator to 50° S…||23||"|
|From 50° in the Atlantic to 50° S. in the|
|50° S. to the equator…||17||"|
|From the equator to San Francisco…||21||"|
The year 1857 was one of financial depression throughout the United States, which was severely felt by the shipping interests of the country and continued until the Civil War. The rates of freight from New York to San Francisco, which during the years immediately following the discovery of gold in California were $60 a ton, gradually declined, and in 1857 had fallen to $10 per ton. Ships that had formerly loaded cargoes for San Francisco night and day and were hurried to sea as quickly as possible, now lay at their loading berths for weeks, leisurely taking on board such cargo as their agents could engage. During this period vessels lay idle at the wharves of Atlantic ports for weeks and even months, in charge of ship-keepers, with sails unbent, waiting for employment.
The former activity in the ship-building yards had also subsided. During the four years prior to the Civil War, Donald McKay built only one ship,