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America’s Seaports: Then And Now Essay

791 words - 4 pages

America’s Seaports: Then and Now

US History I

The origin of America’s economic prosperity can be highly attributed to its colonial seaport cities. These harbors not only brought a steady wave of immigrants to the country but produced increased amounts of wealth through industry, artistry, and commerce. Very much like the seaport cities of modern United States, colonial seaports were rich with diversity and activity. However, these seaports were teeming with turmoil as well as the cost of living skyrocketed and many different cultures and classes of people struggled to co-inhabit these areas.

In the eighteenth century, all major American cities were urban seaports. ...view middle of the document...

Chiefly made up of white men and women, these people were fishermen, domestic workers, apprentices, seamstresses, and prostitutes. Also positioned in the lowest class, black men and women “made up a substantial part of the bound labor force of colonial seaports” (119). Artisans, making up the middle rung of the social ladder, were bakers, butchers, blacksmiths, shipbuilders, and millers. With their increased access to wealth from trade, merchants were able to dominant political power and became the upper classes of colonial cities. These merchants were men who specialized in local dealing, trading grain, fish and livestock to surrounding colonies, and import trade specializing in “selling luxuries and manufactured goods produced in England- fine fabrics, ceramics, tea, and farming implements” (119). The wealthiest seaport families lived leisurely and gratifying lives, modeled after England, as they profited from the middle and low social classes as well as the booming success of commerce.

A great deal of the seaport’s success was attributed to the fact that rural colonies significantly relied on its trade and services. A continual exchange of products from farms to the harbors and harbors from foreign lands made the seaport cities a commercial hub in colonial America. Goods imported from other countries, such as England and the West Indies, were traded for livestock and grain from colonial farms. In this way, colonists gained necessary products like sugar, cloth, rum, window glass, and ceramics for exported fish, crops, and wood for shipbuilding.

With this influx of trade, the population increased at...

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