Proposal preview

Port Cities, Empires, and Global Maritime Trade in the 18th and 19th Centuries: Connections and Comparisons

Abstract:

Port cities were the spaces where the maritime commercial ambitions of merchants and trade corporations converged with the political and economic aspirations of empires and nation states. Port cities played a significant role in the growth and long sustenance of commercial exchange as well as in the imperial and national political economies. This panel seeks to explore the commercial and political dynamics of some major port cities of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans in the 18th and 19th centuries with a focus on the relationship between ports and the markets to which they were connected through trade (foreland). The purpose is to initiate a conversation among scholars/participants working on port cities and maritime trade in different oceanic regions and under different imperial regimes with the hope that this will lead to a comparative perspective on port cities and the relationship between maritime trade and imperial political economies. A major focus of this panel is to explore port cities as sites where political sovereignty was enforced, negotiated, and contested. During this period, empires underwent major political transformations, which had some significant implications for maritime trade and the commercial fortunes of the port cities. The panelists will explore how the port cities navigated the challenges and what were the outcomes. We hope the panel will cover some major port cities of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans as well as the Mediterranean and other seas. In short, we show how ports operated as centers of trans-imperial trade, imperial control, and resistance to imperial authority.

Our panelists will explore the global character of the port cities during this period in their respective areas of expertise by highlighting the trans-imperial/transnational trade networks and their political and economic implications. They will examine the economic and political dynamics that shaped the relationship between empires/nations, port-cities, and maritime trade. In so doing, they will explore how long-distance trade connections facilitated imperial expansion and control but, also at the same time, provided the economic incentives and development for port cities to resist imperial hegemony. Our main objective is to bridge the oceanic divides in the scholarship and develop comparative perspectives on structural and commercial dynamics of port cities as it pertains to imperial and national political economies.

Format:

This panel will follow a standard format, with six to eight papers and one or two discussants. The papers will be pre-circulated. Each panelist will have between 15-20 minutes for presentation followed by discussion and Q&A. We plan to have papers on port cities of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and of the Mediterranean and other seas. Each paper will explore one or more issues/inquiries outlined above with an overall objective to develop a global comparative perspective.

Organizer(s)

  • Jeremy Land Georgia State University land25.jeremy@gmail.com United States
  • Ghulam A. Nadri Georgia State University gnadri@gsu.edu United States

Session members

  • David Doran, Georgia State University
  • Constantin Ardeleanu, The Lower Danube University of Galați / New Europe College, Bucharest (Romania) / Utrecht University (The Netherlands)
  • Jeremy Land, Georgia State University
  • Gelina Harlaftis, Ioanian University
  • Servando Valdés Sánchez , Instituto de Historia de Cuba
  • Vincent Geloso, Texas Tech University
  • Rodrigo Dominguez, University of Minho, University of Porto
  • Aleksandra Papadopoulou , Institute of Mediterranean Studies/FORTH
  • Chris Nierstrasz, Erasmus University, Rotterdam
  • Manish Kumar, University of Groningen

Discussant(s)

  • Olli Turunen University of Jyväskylä olli.t.turunen@jyu.fi
  • Isaac Land Indiana State University isaac.land@indstate.edu

Papers

Panel abstract

Port cities were the spaces where the maritime commercial ambitions of merchants and trade corporations converged with the political and economic aspirations of empires and nation states. Port cities played a significant role in the growth and long sustenance of commercial exchange as well as in the imperial and national political economies. This panel seeks to explore the commercial and political dynamics of some major port cities of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans in the 18th and 19th centuries with a focus on the relationship between ports and the markets to which they were connected through trade (foreland). The purpose is to initiate a conversation among scholars/participants working on port cities and maritime trade in different oceanic regions and under different imperial regimes with the hope that this will lead to a comparative perspective on port cities and the relationship between maritime trade and imperial political economies.

1st half

From Regional to Global Ports – Imperial Hegemonies, National Policies and an International Organization at the Lower Danube in the Long 19th Century

Constantin Ardeleanu

This paper looks at the shifting economic condition of several Lower Danubian and Black Sea ports after the opening of the Black Sea to international trade and shipping in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Placed in a disputed inter-imperial (Russian, Ottoman and Austrian) borderland, the inland ports of Brăila and Galați, as well as the seaports of Sulina and Constanța became large grain exporters to Mediterranean and western Europe. In the 19th century their development was shaped by imperial forces, national policies, and an international organization, created in 1856 to clear the mouths of the Danube and to improve shipping conditions towards inland Danubian ports. This paper will present, based on quantitative and qualitative approaches, the stages of these ports' development, in a unified, transnational and transimperial perspective.

This paper looks at the shifting economic condition of several Lower Danubian and Black Sea ports after the opening of the Black Sea to international trade and shipping in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Placed in a disputed inter-imperial (Russian, Ottoman and Austrian) borderland, the inland ports of Brăila and Galați, as well as the seaports of Sulina and Constanța became large grain exporters to Mediterranean and western Europe. In the 19th century their development was shaped by imperial forces, national policies, and an international organization, created in 1856 to clear the mouths of the Danube and to improve shipping conditions towards inland Danubian ports. This paper will present, based on quantitative and qualitative approaches, the stages of these ports' development, in a unified, transnational and transimperial perspective.

Iberian Timber Imports from the Baltic, 1669-1857: A Study Based on Sound Toll Registers Online

Manish Kumar

The export of forest resources, especially timber, from the Baltic during the early modern period has interested historians for decades. Timber was the main raw material for shipbuilding and no maritime nation of Western and Southern Europe could do without the adequate supplies of this strategic raw material. During my research under the ForSEAdiscovery project (http://www.forseadiscovery.eu/), I developed a method for estimating the volume of Baltic timber products exported through the Danish Sound. In this paper, I propose to estimate the volume of Baltic timber imported by Portugal and Spain from 1669 to 1857 and its importance for their shipbuilding industries. Additionally, this paper will also focus on two or three most important timber exporting ports in the Baltic and the most important timber importing ports in both Portugal and Spain.

The export of forest resources, especially timber, from the Baltic during the early modern period has interested historians for decades. Timber was the main raw material for shipbuilding and no maritime nation of Western and Southern Europe could do without the adequate supplies of this strategic raw material. During my research under the ForSEAdiscovery project (http://www.forseadiscovery.eu/), I developed a method for estimating the volume of Baltic timber products exported through the Danish Sound. In this paper, I propose to estimate the volume of Baltic timber imported by Portugal and Spain from 1669 to 1857 and its importance for their shipbuilding industries. Additionally, this paper will also focus on two or three most important timber exporting ports in the Baltic and the most important timber importing ports in both Portugal and Spain.

Quantitative Knowledge Needed: Fur Prices in Quebec during the Fur Trade's Decline

Vincent Geloso

A Methodological Approach of the Economic History of a Sea: The Paradigm of the Black Sea Port-Cities and Their Globalization Process

Gelina Harlaftis

The Integration of the Southern European Frontier of the Russian Empire into the Global Economy: The Evolution of Transport Systems in the Second Half of the 19th Century

Alexandra Papadopoulou

2nd half

Like Father, Like Son: Philadelphia’s Rise as a Major Port, 1700-1775

Jeremy Land

Prior to independence from Britain, Philadelphia developed into a major port for not only British America, but for the entire Atlantic Ocean. This paper investigates how Philadelphia became a popular destination for goods, both exports and imports.The paper shows how Britain used Philadelphia as a center of imperial control following the end of the Seven Years’ War with France. Within the same decade, however, Philadelphia merchants and wealthy elites began to oppose what they viewed as oppressive imperial policies, and by 1775, Philadelphia was the political and geographical center of the fledgling United States. Examining individual merchant papers to fully explore how goods were imported and exported throughout the period, there is significant evidence to show that Philadelphia merchants were engaged in trans-imperial trade, both illicit and licit. Thus, I seek to show that expansion of trade networks expands the political capital that residents of port cities can utilize.

Prior to independence from Britain, Philadelphia developed into a major port for not only British America, but for the entire Atlantic Ocean. This paper investigates how Philadelphia became a popular destination for goods, both exports and imports.The paper shows how Britain used Philadelphia as a center of imperial control following the end of the Seven Years’ War with France. Within the same decade, however, Philadelphia merchants and wealthy elites began to oppose what they viewed as oppressive imperial policies, and by 1775, Philadelphia was the political and geographical center of the fledgling United States. Examining individual merchant papers to fully explore how goods were imported and exported throughout the period, there is significant evidence to show that Philadelphia merchants were engaged in trans-imperial trade, both illicit and licit. Thus, I seek to show that expansion of trade networks expands the political capital that residents of port cities can utilize.

The Boston Tea Party (1773) in a Global Perspective: Commodity Chains of Tea from China to Northern America (1650-1800)

Chris Nierstrasz

The Boston Tea Party (1773) has mainly been studied as an explosive mix of Enlightenment ideals, popular resistance against taxation and consumer-boycotts originating in the British colonies in the Americas. However, there might have been more global dynamics behind this event. This paper studies the symbol that brought tensions in the Americas to a boiling-point, namely long-distance trade in tea. The focus will be on the connection between events in Boston and commodity-chains of tea by the two main East India companies: the Dutch and English one. Moreover, it will go beyond the data of ‘company trade’ by looking at smuggling of tea in the Atlantic, European Empires and private trade in Asia, intra-Asian trade and Asian entrepreneurship in production of tea. By following the commodity-chain of this product to its origins, the Boston Tea Party comes to life as part of a larger history spanning the globe.

The Boston Tea Party (1773) has mainly been studied as an explosive mix of Enlightenment ideals, popular resistance against taxation and consumer-boycotts originating in the British colonies in the Americas. However, there might have been more global dynamics behind this event. This paper studies the symbol that brought tensions in the Americas to a boiling-point, namely long-distance trade in tea. The focus will be on the connection between events in Boston and commodity-chains of tea by the two main East India companies: the Dutch and English one. Moreover, it will go beyond the data of ‘company trade’ by looking at smuggling of tea in the Atlantic, European Empires and private trade in Asia, intra-Asian trade and Asian entrepreneurship in production of tea. By following the commodity-chain of this product to its origins, the Boston Tea Party comes to life as part of a larger history spanning the globe.

Beyond the Atlantic World: Salem’s Maritime Trade with Asia in the late Eighteenth Century

David Doran

Two Sides of the Same Ocean: Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro and the Establishment of a New Kingdom in Portuguese America (1789-1820)

Rodrigo Dominguez

The old Portuguese Empire had many ports and outposts all over the world, among all continents. But two had special importance, mostly for economic and political reasons: Lisbon, as the kingdom’s natural main center and hub, connecting all the oceans; and Rio de Janeiro, where the Portuguese Royal Court would be established between 1808 and 1820, pushed out of the country by Napoleon’s invasion and the French presence within the Iberian Peninsula between 1807 and 1815. The intent of this essay is to analyze some features of both ports and the interaction between them, through some trade and fiscal data. Moreover, to observe, within a logic of Portugal’s political-economic dynamics in a critical period, the establishment of a new balance of power in Latin America, a new economic diplomacy and the commercial networks’ rearrangement, from the Independence of former Spanish and British colonies, culminating with Brazil’s independence in 1822.

The old Portuguese Empire had many ports and outposts all over the world, among all continents. But two had special importance, mostly for economic and political reasons: Lisbon, as the kingdom’s natural main center and hub, connecting all the oceans; and Rio de Janeiro, where the Portuguese Royal Court would be established between 1808 and 1820, pushed out of the country by Napoleon’s invasion and the French presence within the Iberian Peninsula between 1807 and 1815. The intent of this essay is to analyze some features of both ports and the interaction between them, through some trade and fiscal data. Moreover, to observe, within a logic of Portugal’s political-economic dynamics in a critical period, the establishment of a new balance of power in Latin America, a new economic diplomacy and the commercial networks’ rearrangement, from the Independence of former Spanish and British colonies, culminating with Brazil’s independence in 1822.

Island Port Cities in the Triangular Relationship between Europe and Cuba-U.S. at the End of the 19th Century

Servando Valdés Sánchez

The Cuban ports, and especially that of Havana, which for many years was the main and only port of trade, were the points of contact with the Old Continent and the emerging neighboring power of the United States in the nineteenth century. Cuba, being an Island, and with a strategic geographical position in the Caribbean was conceived by the Spanish colonial metropolis as a maritime enclave between the two continents. The paper intends to analyze the interaction of the factors that influenced the port dynamics in the late nineteenth century, based on the following variables: Spanish protectionism, the emerging manufacturing takeoff in the main port cities of Cuba in the 1980s, Economic crisis of that decade and its responses, the positions of the Spanish shipping industry interested in accessing the triangular Europe-Cuba-United States trade, etc.

The Cuban ports, and especially that of Havana, which for many years was the main and only port of trade, were the points of contact with the Old Continent and the emerging neighboring power of the United States in the nineteenth century. Cuba, being an Island, and with a strategic geographical position in the Caribbean was conceived by the Spanish colonial metropolis as a maritime enclave between the two continents. The paper intends to analyze the interaction of the factors that influenced the port dynamics in the late nineteenth century, based on the following variables: Spanish protectionism, the emerging manufacturing takeoff in the main port cities of Cuba in the 1980s, Economic crisis of that decade and its responses, the positions of the Spanish shipping industry interested in accessing the triangular Europe-Cuba-United States trade, etc.