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 X.
AMERICAN COASTWISE TRADE BEFORE 1789.1
The beginning of the coastwise trade , 162.
Conditions in the northern colonies favorable to coastwise trade, 164.
British Navigation Acts and the colonial coastwise trade, 165.
Evasion of the Navigation Acts , 166.
Effects of the Acts , 167.
Character and volume of the intercolonial coastwise trade , 167.
The trade between the northern and southern colonies, 169.
Statistics of vessel entrances and clearances in 1769, 171.
Interstate trade after the Revolution , 172.
Commercial provisions of the Constitution, 173.

The coastwise commerce of the continental colonies planted in America had its origin partly in the work of collecting commodities for export and of distributing imported goods, and partly in the interchange of the various colonial products. The Plymouth colonists established trading-posts along the New England coast, for the collection of furs and other native commodities, from the sale of which they secured the funds to pay their debt to the English investors who had furnished the capital for their colonizing venture. Governor Bradford records, too, that in 1627 a vessel came to Plymouth from the Dutch plantation of New Amsterdam, bringing "diverse commodities, as sugar, linen cloth, Holland finer and courser stufes, etc." In 1631 Governor Winthrop built the Blessing of the Bay for trade with the other plantations, and he records that during the same year a vessel arrived from Virginia laden with corn and tobacco to be exchanged for fish.

To the Dutch who settled at New Amsterdam may be given the credit for being the first to develop an extensive coastwise commerce on a systematic basis. At the time the Dutch settlement was established, Holland was the greatest distributing center of Europe. Like the city state of Venice in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Holland was in the seventeenth century a nation of traders. To the busy seaports of that country Came the products of all parts of the world, to be redistributed, and in the outposts established by the Dutch trading companies the eager and energetic commercial activities of the Dutch people found prompt expression. From New Amsterdam small vessels sailed to the English plantations both to the north and to the south, exchanging gunpowder, salt, clothing, and European manufactures of all kinds for large quantities of tobacco, grain, fish, and furs, part of which was consumed at the Dutch colony, but most of which was transported to the markets of Holland. In the ubiquitous Dutch trading-

____________________
1
This chapter, which is intended to present a brief general account of the Coastwise Commerce prior to 1789, was written by T. W. Van Metre, who consulted, in addition to the works referred to in the footnotes, the earlier chapters of an unpublished History of the Coastwise Commerce of the United States by Professor Thomas Conway Jr. [Editor.]

-162-

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