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Congress Authorizes The United States Life-Saving Service

On August 14, 1848, the 30th U.S. Congress passed an amendment to an appropriations bill that represented the beginning of a federally funded and organized life-saving service, starting in Monmouth County.

Later known as “The Newell Act,” for Congressman William A. Newell of New Jersey, the amendment read as follows:

In New Jersey. – For providing surf boat, rockets, carronades, and other necessary apparatus for the better preservation of life and property from shipwreck on the coast of New Jersey, between Sandy Hook and Little Egg Harbor, ten thousand dollars;

With these funds, the Treasury Department constructed eight lifeboat stations, equipped with galvanized iron surfboats, metal life-cars complete with air chambers and India rubber floats and fenders, and rockets and mortars— along with blue lights, ropes, powder, heating stoves and firewood, lanterns, and shovels.  Each station was equipped with a cannon that could shoot a line out to a ship for aiding in rescue efforts.  This was the beginning of the U.S. Life-Saving Service.

Sources:

Timeline 1700’s-1800’s (sic).  (2020).  United States Coast Guard Historian’s Office. Available: https://www.history.uscg.mil/Complete-Time-Line/Time-Line-1700-1800/

Means, Dennis R.  (1987).  A Heavy Sea Running: The Formation of the U.S. Life-Saving Service, 1846-1878.  Prologue Magazine, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.  Winter 1987, Vol. 19, No. 4.  Available: https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1987/winter/us-life-saving-service-1.html#SL4

Public Acts of the Thirtieth Congress of the United States.  (1848)  August 14, 1848, P. 114.   Available: https://www.loc.gov/law/help/statutes-at-large/30th-congress/c30.pdf

Noble, Dennis L.  (1994).  That Others Might Live: The U.S. Life-Saving Service, 1878-1915.  Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 1994.

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