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America, Russia, hemp, and Napoleon: American trade with Russia and the Baltic, 1783-1812, Hardcover – 1965

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ohio State University Press (1965)
  • ASIN: B0007DF3XY
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,170,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By R. N. Cable on May 24, 2013
Verified Purchase
This history of the mutually vital, early American trade with Russia, from the beginning of our republic in 1783 through the War of 1812, is the first of 10 excellent histories by retired Prof. Alfred W. Crosby. (All of them are available from Amazon.com). I would like to read every one because, in addition to being a great researcher and a broad thinker, Crosby's topics are intriguing and his writing is excellent.

The first ship from America arrived in Russia on June 12, 1783--nearly three months before the Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War! A Boston ship sailed more than 4,000 miles with a cargo of salt, rice, sugar, fruit and brandy from "triangular trade." She returned only with hemp--a major Russian export that was essential for making the enormous amounts of cordage (ropes for sailing ships) that America's merchant fleet and navy needed. For example, the famous American ship "Constitution," now a floating museum in Boston Harbor, used 100 tons of cordage! Russia, the world's largest producer of hemp at the time, also supplied the best linen for sailcloth and iron for anchors, cannon and fittings of sailing ships. (The Consitution needed 75 tons of that.)

Chapters 1-3 of this book explain the fascinating economics of this era of our young American republic. The serfs of Russia produced cheap, high-quality hemp, linen and iron for America and wood for European navies. The Tsarist court and Russian nobility, in turn, were the market for luxuries that American ship captains brought from the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Africa and elsewhere.
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