The Sultana Education Foundation traces its origins to a community effort to build a replica of the 1768 schooner SULTANA in Chestertown, Maryland, between 1997-2001. The construction of SULTANA established the framework for what would become a broader effort by the Sultana Education Foundation to provide opportunities for students of all ages to learn about and experience the Chesapeake Bay. While the Foundation’s horizons have expanded beyond the decks of SULTANA, the schooner remains one of the organization’s most productive educational platforms and the flagship for all that the Sultana Education Foundation accomplishes.
SULTANA is a reproduction of a Boston-built merchant vessel that served for four years as the smallest schooner ever in the British Royal Navy. Manned by a 25-person crew, the original SULTANA patrolled the coastline of colonial North America from 1768 to 1772 enforcing the hated Townsend Acts or “Tea Taxes.” From this vantage point SULTANA and her crew had a unique perspective on the conflict that would ultimately become the American Revolution.
A key factor that led to SULTANA’s selection for replication was the wealth of primary documentation from the original vessel that was preserved by the British Navy. SULTANA’s reproduction is based directly on a 1768 Royal Navy survey of the original schooner, making it one of the most accurate 18th century replicas in the world today. In addition to these drawings, the Royal Navy also preserved more than 2,000 pages of the vessel’s log books, correspondence, and crew lists. These documents have proved to be an incredible resource for the schooner’s educational programs.
The construction of SULTANA would not have been possible without the inspiration of Master Shipwright John Swain and the 200,000+ hours of labor provided by the scores of volunteer shipwrights who aided with her construction.