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A Cape H orn Down Easter boasting a main skysail picks up a tug in New York's East River in 1879, while a coasting schooner slips out onto this broad highway to the sea. The burgeoning wealth of Wall Street and a thousand rising businesses in America's leading city depend on these seaborne traffics in this era ofgrowth and development. (Painting by Carl G. Evers)

More basic facrors were involved in rhis srory, ir seems clear, rhan rhe sinking of the rwo Collins liners, sharrering as rhose losses were. A severe economic recession hi r the US in the later 185 0s, discouraging new capital invesrmenr. And the superior performance of C unard's new liner Persia showed rhe industrial prowess and rechnological progress of rhe Brirish, which the yo ung American rep ublic-srill a predominandy agrarian narion- was nor able ro march fo r rhe immediare furure. In any case, rhe ourbreak of rhe American Civil War in early 186 1 made moor any efforr ro compere wirh British liners while rhe all-consuming struggle for rhe survival of rhe Unired Srates as a continental power raged on. America Grows by Sea, But Not in American Ships With rhe coming of peace in rhe spring of 1865, hisrorians have been accusromed ro remark, "America rurned its back on the sea." A bener way to pur rhis may be to nore thar rhe power of rhe revived narional economy, backed by an industrial base builr up by war, wenr into building a nerwork of railroads across America, accom panied by an ever-in creas ing sreamboat traffic on rh e lakes and rivers rhar opened rhe co ntinental Un ited Scares ro serdement, farming and, ulrimarely, manufac ruring. All rhis had an enormous effecr on rhe develo pment of rhe narional economy and sociery, nourishing rhe growrh of such inland ciries as C hicago, Pirrsburgh, Sr. Louis and Memphis. T hese rail cen re rs were ried by efficient inland lake and ri ver rraffics ro rhe flouri shing coasral and oceanic commerce rhar conrinued to

SEA HISTORY 89, SUMMER 1999

bring America irs new peoples-reaching over a million a year in rhe l 890s-and giving our farms and factories access ro European and, indeed , wo rldwide markets on a growing scale. No, Ame ri ca had nor rurned irs back on rhe sea! The processes described above depended in vital ways on the sea, as shown in the specracular growrh of New York ro become one of rhe grearesr seaporrs of rhe Adantic wo rld, and San Francisco ro become surely rhe grearesr seaporr in rhe Pacifi c wo rld. And in rhese processes America, almosr wirhour knowing ir, became the leading industrial power of rhe world. Aro und 1900, Brirain's steel producrion was surpassed first by American and then by German steel production , with the US maintaining a growi ng lead . These developmenrs, hardly noticed in the halcyon final decades of rhe Pax Brirannica, we re to have wo rld-changin g consequences in rhe decades immediately ahead. High wages paid in the abundant American economy changed American sociery, effecrively carrying forward rhe yeoman revolurion which had starred Britain on the road to oceanic supremacy beginning a lirde over 300 years earlier, in rhe time of Francis Drake. This development is often called the bourgeois revolurion by historians who wo rship ar rhe idolarrous alrar of "Economic Man. " But rhis ideological straw man has no place in rhe srorywe are fo llowing here. Ideologues who worship ar irs shrine, from Marx ro Lenin to John Reed to Jean-Paul Sarrre, have proved srunningly incapable of recognizing, much less anticiparing, rhe wo rld-changing effecr of rhe idea of common righrs assured by an

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Sea History 089 - Summer 1999  

8 THE CAPE HORN ROAD, XIX. Steamships Take Over the North Atlantic, Driving the Sailing Ship into Increasingly Remote Trades, by Peter Stanf...

Sea History 089 - Summer 1999  

8 THE CAPE HORN ROAD, XIX. Steamships Take Over the North Atlantic, Driving the Sailing Ship into Increasingly Remote Trades, by Peter Stanf...

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