Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Delanceyplace.com 06/27/06-The Atlantic Ocean

In today's excerpt, the Atlantic Ocean in the mid- 1700s had become a cohesive maritime system encompassing all four continents, and the most important trade network in the world:

"The ocean became an 'immutable connection' between east and west, or, as the historical geographer Meinig put it, 'a single arena of action.' Firmly established trade routes joining producers and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic made the ocean a common roadway rather than a forbidding barrier...more easily traversed in stable routes than many European land areas...

"One association of London merchants and Scottish affiliates in the mid-eighteenth century that we know a great deal about dealt in slaves, sugar, tobacco, timber and provisions. The debts they incurred in opening plantations in Florida were balanced by profits in slave markets in Africa; profits from contracts for supplying bread to the troops in Germany were invested in land deals in the Caribbean; funds derived from sugar production and marketing provided capital for commercial loans...

"By mid-century 1,000 ships a year were involved in England's transatlantic traffic, 459 in the sugar trade alone. France in 1773 sent 1,359 ships across the Atlantic to transport colonial goods. No less than 3,500 vessels were engaged annually in the Atlantic wine trade, moving out from six nations--Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Spain and Portugal--to the Azores and the Canaries where they took on cargoes for delivery to 104 ports in Europe, Africa, and North and South America."

Bernard Bailyn, Atlantic History, Harvard, 2005, pp. 83-86


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