"Loss of the Packet Ship Albion," ca. 1823-1829. Collection New-York Historical Society.
Ocean-going packets were cargo vessels, carrying cotton to England and France and manufactured goods back to New York. On board was also "specie," or the gold and silver needed to reconcile accounts among merchants. Soon, the packets also dominated the passenger traffic between New York and Europe. The first disaster to befall the New York liners was the wreck of the Albion off the Irish coast in April 1822, with the loss of 46 people. This poem appeared in newspapers and then as a broadside.