Trading Raw Cotton for European Cotton Cloth
Wars in Europe and between Britain and the United States tightened transatlantic commerce for 20 years. With peace in 1815, trade exploded. To capture the new American market, British manufacturers shipped tons of cloth, ceramics, and metal products to the United States. The City of New York outpaced its seaboard rivals in accommodating these British vessels.
What could fill the ships returning to Liverpool and London — Cotton — bales and bales of southern cotton! Packet line service, starting in 1818, transshipped southern cotton across the Atlantic regularly. The inventor of this service was Jeremiah Thompson, owner of the Black Ball Line. He and his rivals turned New York City into the fulcrum of transatlantic cotton and sugar trading, and locked most of its merchants into tacit support for slavery in the American South.