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Chapter Twenty-Seven. Securing the Revolution: The American Economy and the Challenge of Independence

Dana John Stefanelli

Subject History » Economic History

Place Americas » Northern America

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1700-1799

Key-Topics business history, commerce, finance

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444331035.2012.00029.x


During the eighteenth century, the American economy began a period of transition and expansion that was distinct in important ways from the previous and succeeding eras. Production of commodities for export drove economic growth, and the diversity and volume of goods produced and sold rose steadily. In 1700, many of the patterns of commercial and agricultural life set during the first years of colonial settlement predominated in British North America. Chesapeake planters remained dedicated to tobacco cultivation even as market saturation limited the crop's profitability. Shipping, shipbuilding and related industries like timber harvesting, naval stores, and fishing dominated business activity in New England. Trade with native tribes remained an important feature of the mid-Atlantic region's economy even as formerly Dutch colonies expanded into production of grains and other commodities. The new Carolina colonies enjoyed rapid success with rice and the easily-processed long-staple cotton plant, cash crops which flourished in the region's coastal lowlands and benefited from strong demand across the Atlantic. African slaves labored in many colonies, particularly in South Carolina and the Chesapeake, but indentured servants and free laborers filled the bulk of the American workforce. By 1800, many of these established economic activities coexisted with new commercial, agricultural and ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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