JOURNEY TO THE JONES ACT | U.S. Merchant Marine Policy 1776-1920 by Charlie Papvizas

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The “Jones Act” is the most newsworthy U.S. maritime policy law.

Most of the attention is focused on the preservation of U.S. domestic maritime trade. Some is focused on the law as a means for mariners to recover for injuries.

But this attention is too narrow. The “Jones Act” was originally understood to mean the whole of the 1920 Merchant Marine Act, which deals with far more than domestic maritime trade and mariner injuries. The 1920 Act was the culmination of U.S. merchant marine policies inherited from England and adapted over time by the United States starting in 1776.

This merchant marine policy history is American history with both the well-known, like James Madison, and the obscure, like Senator Wesley Livsey Jones, playing their parts. And it is relevant history because the U.S. merchant marine has always been an essential component of U.S. national defense and the economic conditions that made sustaining a U.S. merchant marine on the high seas difficult are the same today as they were in 1920.

Charlie Papavizas captures a rich history from the early 17th century English Navigation Acts to the Constitutional Convention where slavery and maritime policy were connected, to the Civil War where the U.S. merchant marine suffered a catastrophic decline, to the decades of failed revival efforts, and finally to the building of a great merchant fleet of vessels in World War I and the plan to make permanent America’s place in the maritime world with that fleet—which was the Jones Act.

About the Author

Charlie Papavizas, an accomplished national maritime lawyer, is recognized as a “Jones Act” expert and has published widely on how it applies today. In researching this book, he was pleasantly surprised to learn he has two personal connections to the book’s subject. John Barton Payne, the third Chairman of the U.S. Shipping Board at a critical time in the formulation of the “Jones Act” in 1919-20, was a name partner for many years in the law firm that exists today as Winston & Strawn LLP—where Charlie has practiced as a partner since 1995. Constantinos A. Papavizas, Charlie’s paternal grandfather, served in World War I in the same U.S. Army regiment that boarded and captured German vessels interned in the United States when the U.S. declared war on Germany in April 1917. Those vessels, particularly the requisitioned passenger vessels, were critical to the U.S. war effort. Charlie grew up in the Washington, D.C. area where he still lives and practices law. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University, a Masters of International Affairs degree from Columbia University, and Juris Doctor degree from George Washington University.