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MERCHANTMAN. A ship or vessel employed in a merchant's service. This term is used in opposition to a ship of war.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
Once he scooped a lovely prize of two fat English merchantmen l ships laden with fabric and wine.
Germany and Austria-Hungary used everything from torpedo boats to dreadnoughts to attack antisubmarine mine-barrages in the Dover Straits and Straits of Otranto and strike at convoyed merchantmen. The Royal Navy responded, using large minefields to restrict the movement of U-boats, and by attacking German mine-sweeping forces.
Pakistan Navy has always been contributing significantly in assuring a secure maritime environment for merchantmen by actively deploying ships in counter terrorism and anti-piracy operations.
Symonds recounts the obliteration of convoy PQ-17, ordered to scatter, with the resultant loss of most of its merchantmen, and then the British naval escape from Crete, which promised initially to be another Dunkirk but became a fighting withdrawal across the entire Mediterranean.
President George Washington asked for the ships in 1794 to force the Barbary States of North Africa to stop capturing American merchantmen and enslaving their crews.
That partnership recurs in "The Royal Navy and the Defence of Newfoundland during the American Revolution." Owing to the dispersed nature of the fishery, the navy could not defend every major harbour and simultaneously protect British merchantmen plying the trade lanes south of the island, jobs that became even harder after 1778, when France entered the war on the Americans' side.
Initially, they patrolled off New York hoping to intercept German merchantmen carrying war materiel home to Germany and passenger liners returning immigrants to Germany to enlist.
"When [Chinese] merchantmen arrive at that port they cast anchor at a place [called] the place of Mandarins.
Here he offers a selection of highly readable anecdotal accounts of the merchantmen, navy men, sealers, whalers, and aviators who, along with scientists and adventurers, drew the first maps of the white continent.
The navies of both countries sought to evade or capture one another as British cruisers seized and detained French merchantmen and their crews.