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Overseas shipping in the 18th Century

Aug 5, 2008
The 18th Century is an era that changed the world and saw a major power shift in the control of overseas shipping in the Atlantic. The countries of Europe had spent the previous two centuries struggling for control of the newly discovered continents of North and South America. As the year 1700 came and went, the battle lines for ultimate dominance had been drawn. The French controlled the north, the Spanish the south, and the British had thirteen colonies right in the middle. Overseas shipping companies were making a fortune transporting cargoes to and from the new land. War was inevitable.

The French, after forming an alliance with the native Iroquois and Huron Indian tribes, used their power bases in Quebec and Montreal to launch an assault on the British colonies that had been established to the south. Their overseas shipping experience from the interior along the St. Lawrence River had shown them the need for an East Coast harbor and control of the seaboard. The war that followed, known historically as the French and Indian War, introduced guerilla tactics to the civilized world for the first time. Wars in Europe had always been fought toe to toe on massive battlefields so the French and the English had to learn the Indian tactic of sheltering themselves behind trees and rocks while firing.

The British, with superior firepower and the help of colonists who were fighting to defend their homes, won the conflict and their hold on North America was solidified. Their show of strength in the war deterred the Spanish from any action against them and solidified their hold on overseas shipping from America. They would not be so lucky in their next conflict.

The American Revolution began because of taxes that were being assessed on overseas shipping of tea and other products from England. In the one hundred fifty years leading up to the Revolution, England had been shipping in supplies, people and food to the men and women who had colonized the new land. The colonists became dependent on many of these items and King George III assessed taxes on them without the colonists having any representation in Parliament. The end result was a victory by the colonists and the birth of the United States of America. The new nation immediately took control of their own overseas shipping and attempted to establish trade agreements with the countries of Europe. The 18th Century closed with The United States struggling to find its identity and desperately trying to survive in a land surrounded by enemies.

The victory by the thirteen colonies over the might of the British Empire set a tone for many of the countries in Europe that had been suffering under the rule of uncaring monarchs who were stepping on the necks of their own people. The 19th Century would see a new nation rise to international dominance and others throw off the yokes of oppression. Overseas shipping would benefit from the invention of new power sources, faster ships, and new markets in Asia and the Far East. The world was growing up and the industrial revolution was about to begin.
About the Author
Nir Dotan is a writer and promoter of
International Shipping
services, and
Auto Shipping
Local as well as International Moving
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