Technically illegal according to the various imperial policies that Britain imposed on the American colonies, Philadelphia built and maintained a robust trade partnership with the port of Lisbon. The authors thank the collaboration of the employees of the Municipal Archive of Lisbon — Historical Archive. Recent research in the field of Atlantic and imperial history has eroded the historical hegemony of empires, showing the diverse and complex nature of trade in and around the Atlantic Ocean. In this vein of analysis, we investigate the surprisingly robust trade between Philadelphia and Lisbon during the 18th century while Philadelphia was still under British rule.
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Technically illegal according to the various imperial policies that Britain imposed on the American colonies, Philadelphia built and maintained a robust trade partnership with the port of Lisbon. The authors thank the collaboration of the employees of the Municipal Archive of Lisbon — Historical Archive. Recent research in the field of Atlantic and imperial history has eroded the historical hegemony of empires, showing the diverse and complex nature of trade in and around the Atlantic Ocean.
In this vein of analysis, we investigate the surprisingly robust trade between Philadelphia and Lisbon during the 18th century while Philadelphia was still under British rule. Some of the questions we ask of the archives include what the nature of this trade was and how did it come to pass. Perhaps most importantly, how did the British and Portuguese officials view this trade and what were their responses? In the end, we contend that Philadelphia practiced an economy that was trans-imperial in nature and oriented away from its imperial master, and its trade was much more diverse than what would be allowed under a truly mercantilist empire.
In addition, we hope to highlight the early origins of economic connections between Portugal and British America, contrary to the historical relations of British supremacy to Portugal and to the thirteen colonies. In the end, we seek to clarify the role that both Lisbon and Philadelphia had in shaping not only Portuguese and American trade, but their role in shaping the entire Atlantic economy.
First, we provide an overview of the historical context and economic situation in both Philadelphia and Lisbon. Furthermore, we highlight how the difficulties that Portugal faced disabled its imperial power and capability to hold off the British, Dutch, and French efforts to control transatlantic trade. Secondly, we want to emphasize the political and economic realities that made colonial subjects in North America interested in trading directly with Southern Europe, mainly Lisbon.
We are aware that Philadelphia-owned ships, in apparent contradiction with the British Navigations Acts, shipped goods to Lisbon on a regular basis. We also know that ships from different empires maintained regular routes shipping wheat both raw and flour and staves from Philadelphia to Lisbon where they brought aboard salt to take back to Philadelphia.
Were they concerned with the imperial border between Portugal and British America? Was smuggling a substantial portion of the overall trade between the two ports, or was most of the trade legal or at least tolerated by imperial officials?
The micro data will allow us to better understand the historical context surrounding this fascinating example of inter-imperial trade. For Philadelphia, we utilized Philadelphia Customs House records and the papers of individual merchants, many of which found in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, to uncover previously unused data sets that document the longstanding economic relationship between Lisbon and Philadelphia.
We also utilize customs house entry and exits reported by the Pennsylvania Gazette to establish a baseline of figures officially accepted by the British imperial structure. We also lean on the work of previous historians on both sides of the Atlantic for general and occasionally specific trade data that helps to provide background for our new data analysis.
Portugal becomes an essential partner in trade with the fledgling United States, becoming primary for both nations during major crises of war, especially during the Napoleonic invasion of Portugal and the British-American War of Land, Eloranta and Moreira , Did these early relationships between Philadelphia and Lisbon allow for later growth in trade? This article intends to shed some light into those questions. The first fifty years is best described as the lull after the storm.
Militarily, the realm was dragged into the succession of the Spanish king. However, the war forced Portugal to ally with Great Britain, under the supervision of British ambassador John Methuen. On one hand, it represented a major financial setback to the Portuguese, creating an enormous external trade deficit Schwartz , On the other hand, the Peace of Utrecht determined precisely new formal borders of colonial territories in South America, where the Portuguese developed mining activities, attracting more people to the colony Alencastro , The outcome of that expansion was a negotiation for new territorial boundaries, resulting in a new treaty signed in Madrid in A substantial decrease in state revenues from the two main sources of income — customs duties and monopoly rights — demanded quick resolutions.
Portuguese settlers, reinforced by military forces, took Spanish fortresses near Montevideo in They resisted Spanish attacks for more than a decade Faria , Wars between Britain, France, Spain, and the Netherlands seemed to blur together throughout the 18th century, with a new major war virtually every decade.
For Britain, its wars before were largely efforts to stave off French and Dutch encroachment into its empire in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Following these wars, many of the various territories captured or occupied during the conflicts would be exchanged back during treaty negotiations. Britain joined the list of European empires comparatively late. Starting slowly in the early 17th century with a few colonies in North America, it quickly became the preeminent imperial power in the Atlantic by the early 18th century, with colonial holdings in the Caribbean, the Americas, and Africa.
For British Americans, however, this expansion meant limited attention from its imperial master. As a result, they were given unrivalled autonomy to establish local governments. In fact, many of these governments were tasked with supporting, both in terms of funding and manpower, the many wars that Britain fought between Anderson With the Asiento of , British merchants were given the exclusive rights to export, sell, and ship slaves from Africa to the empire of Spain.
This development provided enormous opportunity for British economic expansion, as they also dominated the slave trade to Portuguese colonies. Throughout the 18th century, a growing number of immigrants, indentured servants, and African slaves continued to provide additional labor for the growing territory of British America, especially in the southern colonies.
More importantly, British Americans developed an expanding maritime sector, with shipbuilding and mercantile activity achieving predominance in major ports such as Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. This reality forced the British imperial structure to recognize the growing economic power of British America, helping to convince British leaders to attempt to limit that growing power with new restrictions on trade and additional taxes in the late s and early s. Though Penn envisioned a more subsistence-based society, he recognized that maritime commerce would allow for Pennsylvanians to live above a mere subsistence level by selling surplus crops and timber products in the larger Atlantic marketplace.
In fact, being located on the major waterway into the interior of Pennsylvania made agricultural expansion into the frontier economically feasible and desirable Jensen , Tobacco one of the first products shipped out of Philadelphia appears to have been shipped to anywhere but England. In much the same way, the vast majority of goods leaving and coming into the Port of Philadelphia were going to and coming from other colonies and other empires.
In the period , ships cleared the port in those five years. This trend continued throughout the 18th century with Great Britain and Ireland only making up Wheat is the most common commodity exported, but its form changed over time. Initially, raw grain was dominant, but as the colony developed, flour and bread of various types became primary.
This transition indicates a couple of developments. First, exporting flour rather than grain suggests a growing milling industry that required capital investment beyond just subsistence milling. Second, it hints at a growing separation between farmer and merchant. According to Brooke Hunter , , this development provided a means for colonists to expand agricultural production deeper into the hinterland, aided by the vast waterways of Pennsylvania.
Much of this growth was due in large part to a series of wars in the Atlantic World, especially Europe. Wheat and flour were rarely sent in large amounts to Britain proper. In Table 3, the destinations of bread and flour from Philadelphia are broken down into regions. West Indian destinations composed about one-third of total exports. Philadelphia merchants clearly were oriented away from the mother country, focusing instead on colonial and inter-imperial markets.
As we discuss in greater detail below, we have also seen an enormous number of ships going in ballast from Lisbon to undisclosed locations in the West Indies, where they then turned north to Philadelphia as their final port of call before returning to Lisbon.
This suggests that both Lisbon and Philadelphia merchants may have been operating trade in slaves, illicit goods and wares, or moving legal goods wheat, flour, staves, etc. Between and , several laws and acts were passed by the British Parliament to create a mercantilist empire wherein the colonies were only to trade with or through Britain. The Staple Act of and the Plantation Duties Acts of levied taxes, duties, and penalties on commodities entering or leaving British colonies. Because colonial merchants frequently violated the laws, Britain issued new acts re-enforcing the original ones and increasing the penalties.
The Navigation Act of , the Woolen Act of , and the Naval Stores Act in increased the number of commodities that were to be taxed, which further restricted the scale and scope of trade carried out by colonial merchants. Under the reforms of , 29 positions for customs collectors were formalized, but many of these positions remained unfilled until It seems that the customs department never received the full resources it required to enforce the acts, which then enabled the colonial governments and merchants to circumvent and even disregard the laws Barrow , However, it was well known to British officials, colonial governors, and merchants in Philadelphia that customs officers generally allowed for trade between Southern Europe, especially Portuguese locations, and British America.
Before , the general rule was that cargoes of wheat and flour could be exported to Lisbon and imports of salt, wine, and lemons were allowed as long as they met even the slightest of requirements such as an English merchant having even the smallest share of the cargo or ship.
In , the governor of Massachusetts defended a collector who had accepted one such bribe because until the reforms of the s, those gifts had been a normal part of business. Therefore, it was unfair to charge him of dereliction of duty since the collector had just recently received new instructions prohibiting such practices Barrow , In the Port of Philadelphia Customs House records, the first volume or so is largely composed of documents relating to court cases regarding possible smugglers.
For instance, a customs official in Barbados had impounded a ship that was carrying Spanish soap that was still packaged in chests that were much like the chests that Spanish merchants used.
In effect, the official charged the captain with merely moving the chests from a Spanish ship to a Philadelphia ship to hopefully smuggle into Barbados. The very first document in the Customs House records detail the job requirements of the customs officers for Philadelphia. Part of the problem was that legislators had assumed that most of the colonial trade would be handled by ships owned by British merchants and companies.
Unfortunately, that was just not the case Barrow , 6. Colonial owned shipping managed to carve out a substantial profit from not only carrying colonial products but products from around the Atlantic and beyond. In this sense, the charges for freight carried on board colonial-owned shipping was greater than the value of any one commodity exported from the colonies McCusker , Though in their success, dramatically increased tensions between the colonists and the metropole Barrow As early as , officials in Philadelphia served as overseers for customs houses in Quebec City and Montreal as they were captured and occupied by British troops.
Furthermore, regular updates and accounts from West Indies ports were sent to Philadelphia to be included in Philadelphia archives throughout the last half of the 18th century. From their standpoint, it is understandable that increased restrictions on foreign trade would have been enormously detrimental to the economy of Philadelphia. There are large numbers of observations that imply that a longstanding trade existed between Lisbon and Philadelphia that not only occurred throughout the 18th century, but official port records of the Port of Philadelphia contain myriad examples of trade coming and going between Lisbon and Philadelphia.
In the port registry of Lisbon, one entry is quite confusing considering the nature of 18th century imperial relationships. In that entry, a French owned and crewed ship apparently made regular trips between Philadelphia, Lisbon, and sometimes a French colony in the Caribbean.
In Philadelphia it picked up a shipload of grain or flour, proceeded to unload that cargo in Lisbon, and then continued in ballast empty to the Caribbean. It is as yet unclear what, if anything, the ship picked up in the Caribbean, but the entry is intriguing nonetheless. For example, Christopher Marshall, a Philadelphia merchant, processed three separate shipments in quick succession between June and July All total, the shipments contained 2.
Each shipment was meant for a different merchant or merchant house in Lisbon. Furthermore, it indicates responsiveness to specific requests, suggesting a communication network that transcended imperial and lingual borders. Nevertheless, the starting point of those relations began long before Of course, it would be essential to cooking, for seasoning dishes, but also fundamental to leather production. The massive presence of wine from both places in British North America since the s, as well as Spanish wine from the Canary Islands, is already known, entering especially at the ports of Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Charleston Ribeiro , I, So popular was wine from Madeira in British America, it transformed from a luxury item into a regular dinner table staple in colonial America Hancock , xxix.
História do Governo Civil de Lisboa - volume II
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História da imprensa periódica portuguesa