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Overseas shipping in the 19th Century

Aug 5, 2008
The French still had a power base to the north and the Spanish were seeking to expand in the south. The British had not forgotten their defeat at Yorktown and were preparing their fleet for a return to re-acquire what they had lost.

The war of 1812 was fought mainly on the waters outside of port cities that the British desperately wanted back to regain their hold on the lucrative overseas shipping industry in America. Cannons roared and city walls broke but didn't fall. In the end, the fleet was turned back and the United States was a free and independent nation at last. The French chose not to attempt any action against them.

Overseas shipping in the next few decades for the United States was cultivated with trade agreements and the building of their own fleet. In the 1850's, the first ironclad ships were invented and the use of steam and combustibles became an alternative to the sails of old. Though not yet practical for overseas shipping, these iron ships were used on rivers and as war ships during the Civil War.

The Civil War, like the American Revolution before it, was fought over issues directly related to overseas shipping. The states to the south were reliant on cotton and tobacco which were being sent to Europe via overseas shipping and bringing in a huge profit. The northern states had control of most of the manufactured goods that were coming out of America and were leading the way in an industrial revolution that was just beginning. The manufacturing plants in the north offered jobs to American citizens. The cotton and tobacco fields of the south used slave labor. The war that followed was as much about economics as it was about the abolition of slavery.

When the Civil War ended after five bloody years, the United States was once again a unified nation which had doubled in size and strength. With territory now stretching all the way to the Mississippi and a vast new frontier to conquer in the west, the final conflict for North America was set to begin. The territory of Spain, which had been expanding its holdings since the 15th Century, was now bordered by the United States and directly threatened by the new nation. With the acquisition of New Orleans and Florida, the United States could now control overseas shipping routes in the Caribbean. Spain, out of self preservation, declared war and at the end of the 19th Century, four hundred years after the voyage of Columbus, lost control of overseas shipping in North America. The United States stood alone as a power in the Western Hemisphere and prepared to take on the world.
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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