Economic Impact of Colonial Shipbuilding Industry


EconomicImpact of Colonial Shipbuilding Industry

EconomicImpact of Colonial Shipbuilding Industry

Development in the shippingindustry is one of the most significant factors that shaped the worldas it exists today. Shipping enabled European countries to spreadtheir influence to the entire world and therefore contributedsignificantly to the spread of civilization. The American shippingindustries developed as a result of the spread of European influence.We will articulate the geopolitical events that took place in theworld that spurred demand for American ships across the world and inparticular in Europe. We will also cover the economic impact of theshipbuilding industry in the colonies and how it crucial for theoverall economic development of the American colonies.

In the colonial period in thecontinental America, both the present day south and North Americancontinents, Europe were the driving force in the world. Inparticular, the English and the Spanish exerted their influencecontinents and the demands of their local economies determined thedirection of economic advancement in the American continents(Bruchey, 2013).

In Europe, there was an influxin the demand for products that required tropical climates. Forexample, tobacco and sugarcane were major items of trading (Bruchey,2013). The climate in the two American continents was conducive forthe growth of these products, hence the increased European interestin that part of the world in the period. The increased demandresulted in an increase in efforts for production and consequentlyand influx in investment (Bruchey, 2013).

Some areas in the colonieswere not conducive to the development of agriculture. For example,the group of British colonies in the modern day US called the NewEngland colonies consisted of the present day New Hampshire,Connecticut, Rhode Islands and Massachusetts (Inikori, 2009). Theseareas have poorly developed soils and are susceptible to poorclimatic conditions. However, they have access to the seas and theydeveloped the fishing industry as well as industries. Their idealplacement and the demands for transport implied that they wereinvolved in the shipping industry as a function of their agriculturalimpotence, their locations and the development of a fishing industry(Inikori, 2009).

In the colonial period, themain source of labor in the American colonies was slaves. The rapidgrowth in the agricultural increased the demand for slaves. As afunction of the demand, there was increased pressure for supply. Thesource of slave labor was the African continent. As a function of theindustrialization in Europe and the time and the direct result of thepressure for raw material for the industrial products that came fromAmerica, the trans-Atlantic trade rose to prominence. The slaveAtlantic trade relied on slaves, raw materials and industrial goodsfrom Europe (Inikori, 2009). The result of its rise was an increaseddemand for transportation means. Shipping was the only means oftransport with the ability to cross over the oceans at the timehence the increased demand for shipping resulted in growth of theshipping industry (Inikori, 2009).

Development of the shippingindustry was a function of economic demand. In addition, thedevelopment fueled further demand by facilitating transportation andconnectivity between the three continents that were involved in theTrans-Atlantic trade. Shipping industries developed in areas thatwere unsuitable for agricultural production and that were endowedwith natural resources such as iron ore deposits (Bruchey, 2013).Strategic location was also a factor in directing development ofshipping.

In the US and other colonies,development of the industry was facilitated by relatively cheapermeans of production in the colonies compared to Europe. In addition,it was a function of the increased demand for shipping due torelevance of transportation. Shipping facilitated economicdevelopment and linked America to the world.


Bruchey,S. (2013). Roots of American Economic Growth 1607-1861 an Essay onSocial

Causation. Hoboken: Taylor andFrancis.

Inikori,J. (2009). The Atlantic slave trade: Effects on economies, societies,and peoples in

Africa, the Americas, andEurope. Durham: Duke University Press.