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Economic Warfare and the SeaGrand Strategies for Maritime Powers, c. 1600-1945$
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David Morgan-Owen and Louis Halewood

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621594

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621594.001.0001

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Sea Power and Neutrality: The American Experience in Europe during the French Wars, 1793–1812

Sea Power and Neutrality: The American Experience in Europe during the French Wars, 1793–1812

(p.101) Chapter Five Sea Power and Neutrality: The American Experience in Europe during the French Wars, 1793–1812
Economic Warfare and the Sea

Silvia Marzagalli

Liverpool University Press

This chapter analyses the systemic effects of the Franco-British revolutionary and Napoleonic wars on American trade and shipping. The recourse to neutral carriers consistently reduced the impact of belligerents’ economic warfare against enemy trade, but it also alleviated the consequences of the enemy’s disruptive policy on its own economy. Merchants of neutral countries took advantage of the context to expand their business, but the range of their opportunities varied in time and space, as they depended on the evolving needs of each of the belligerents, and the sea power in a given area. As a result, American ships met with different opportunities in Bordeaux, with its rich agricultural hinterland – where they considerably sustained local interests – and in the Mediterranean, where they faced the fierce competition of other neutral carriers, and met consistent difficulties in preserving their neutrality with regards to European belligerents and Barbary States. While pointing at the difficulty of concretely implementing economic warfare, the comparison also illustrates the need to precisely contextualise the effects of economic warfare.

Keywords:   French Wars (1793-1815), Neutrality, United States shipping and trade, Mediterranean, Bordeaux, Economic Warfare

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