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The 1810s


New Bedford
New Bedford

Despite the postwar depression, Massachusetts’s maritime activities recovered rapidly. Boston became the nation’s leading overseas trader, and by 1784, Boston ships had opened trade with China. Salem, New Bedford, and Newburyport also developed strong commercial interests, while Nantucket, New Bedford, Marblehead, and Provincetown expanded their whaling and shipping operations. Commerce was sharply curtailed, however, when war between France and Britain led Congress to pass the Embargo Act of 1807, forbidding U.S. vessels from trading with European nations.

The purpose of the measure was to force the warring nations, particularly Britain and France, to recognize the rights of neutral countries. It failed to achieve that goal, but it damaged the American economy, especially in New England states such as Massachusetts that relied heavily on trade. Continued conflict over British aggression against neutral U.S. ships led to the War of 1812 (1812-1815), which angry Massachusetts merchants bitterly opposed. At the Hartford Convention, held late in 1814, Massachusetts and other New England states sought to address their declining role in national affairs, proposing limits on the presidency and on federal power to impose embargoes or regulate foreign commerce. Despite opposition to the war, the state took pride in the naval victories of the frigate Constitution, which had been launched in Boston in 1797.

After the war, Massachusetts regained its position of maritime supremacy and maintained it until after the middle of the century.

Period after the revolution


In the period after the revolution, the United States began to produce its own manufactured goods when the British market was periodically closed because of European wars, the embargo, and the War of 1812. Many of the new industries were established in Massachusetts. The state had many streams for waterpower and a ready labor market drawn from its farmers and artisans. In 1816 the U.S. government passed a protective tariff to aid the nation’s young industries. Massachusetts’s manufacturing flourished, and many merchants channeled capital into the state’s expanding textile industry.

After New York’s Erie Canal was opened in 1825, allowing quick transportation of goods between the eastern and western parts of the country, Massachusetts’s agriculture declined. Competition from the fertile western farms drove many of the small Massachusetts farmers to abandon their land. Many of them sought land in the West or moved to the state’s rapidly growing industrial centers. "Massachusetts" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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