History of Domestic and Foreign Commerce of the United States - Vol. 1

By Emory R. Johnson; T. W. Van Metre et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIX.
THE COASTWISE TRADE OF THE ATLANTIC COAST, 1789-1860.1
Legislation concerning coastwise vessels , 1789-1793, 328.
Registry and enrollment of vessels under law of 1972, 330.
Development of the coastwise trade to 1830 , 332.
Importance of cotton culture to the coastwise trade , 332.
Nature of the trade of the South with the North, 333.
Effects of the embargo and non-intercourse acts and the War of 1812, 334.
Adoption of the protective tariff policy , 335.
Foreign vessels excluded from the coastwise trade, 1817, 336.
Establishment of "great districts," 1819, 336.
Nature and volume of the coastwise trade in 1830 , 338.
The coastwise trade at leading seaports , 339.
The coastwise trade from 1830 to 1850, 341.
Increase in tonnage of coastwise fleet , 342.
Coastwise receipts and shipments at New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Boston, 1830 to 1850, 342.
The coastwise trade at South Atlantic and Gulf Ports , 344.
The decade from 1850 to 1860, 345.
Competition of railroads with coastwise lines , 1850-1860, 345.
Increase in coastwise trade , 1850-1860, 346.
Growth in number of steamship lines, 346.

The coastwise commerce of the United States has passed through a series of interesting changes. Of relatively small value during most of the colonial period, it gradually increased in volume as the population of the country grew and industry became diversified, until it came to be the most important branch of the commerce of the nation. Compared to the foreign and the internal trade the coastwise business attained the point of highest development during the decade preceding the Civil War. Since the war, though increasing in volume, it has suffered steadily from the competition of the railways and has failed to keep pace in its rate of growth with either foreign or internal commerce.

No statistics of the value of either branch of domestic commerce are available, but it is doubtful if, at the present time, the value of the coastwise trade, exclusive of harbor and purely local traffic, is as great as the value of the foreign commerce of the nation; and it is certain that its value is far less than that of the tremendous internal trade carried on by rail. In one respect the coastwise trade retains a position of extreme significance. Being restricted to vessels built and owned in the United States, it has for several years provided the country with a merchant marine at a time when the tonnage of the national shipping engaged in foreign trade has declined to a comparatively small volume. It has made possible the existence of the ship- building industry and has given the nation virtually its only "nursery of seamen." It is as much because of these features as for its importance as a factor in commercial exchanges that the coastwise trade retains a large degree of interest.

____________________
1
In addition to the references indicated, the writer of these chapters on the coastwise trade has consulted an unpublished history of the coastwise trade, written by Professor Thomas Conway. Jr., of the University of Pennsylvania.

-327-

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