American and South-European Trade
THE American and South European trade of Chesapeake Bay was founded on grain rather than tobacco, and, unlike its British and African trade, was carried on primarily by American capital in colonial vessels. It consisted of three parts: (1) trade with the West Indies; (2) trade with the "Wine Islands" ( Madeira, Cape Verde, and the Azores), Portugal, Spain, and Italy; and (3) trade with the northern American colonies. Grain was by far the largest export to all three areas, with lumber (staves, headings, shingles, and trunnels), naval stores, foodstuffs (pork, biscuit, beans, butter, peas, hams, and beef), tobacco, geese, candies, cattle, and beeswax augmenting the cargoes. The principal imports were rum, sugar, molasses, salt, ginger, cocoa, cotton, lime juice, citrus fruit, Spanish coin, and an occasional Negro slave from the West Indies; wine, citrus fruit, salt, and bills of exchange from south Europe; and codfish, mackerel, rum, furniture, woodenware, and foodstuffs (cheese, malt, biscuit, and peas) from the northern colonies.
These cognate trades were by no means entirely distinct. Barbadian or Bermudian vessels often entered Chesapeake Bay en route to or from New England. Madeira wine was occasionally brought to Virginia and Maryland from the northern or West Indian colonies, and Yankee vessels frequently imported Antigua, Barbados, and Jamaica commodities into the Chesapeake and exported Virginia and Maryland grain to the West Indies.
Despite tobacco's dominance of Chesapeake agriculture, some attention was always paid to cereal crops. At first the colonial authorities sought to insure an adequate food supply by requiring every tobacco planter to grow at least two acres of corn. This law, being difficult to enforce, was widely evaded. But with the
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Publication information: Book title: Tobacco Coast:A Maritime History of Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era. Contributors: Arthur Pierce Middleton - Author, George Carrington Mason - Editor. Publisher: Mariners' Museum. Place of publication: Newport News, VA. Publication year: 1953. Page number: 178.
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