Using the profits generated by enslaved africans in

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gentlewoman. Using the profits generated by enslaved Africans in the South Atlantic System of commerce, wealthy planters formed an increasingly well-educated, refined, and stable ruling class.William Byrd and the Rise of the Southern Gentry...Printed Page 85[Notes/Highlighting]The Northern Maritime EconomyThe South Atlantic System had a broad geographical reach. As early as the 1640s, New England farmers supplied the sugar islands with bread, lumber, fish,and meat. As a West Indian explained, planters “had rather buy foode at very deare rates than produce it by labour, soe infinite is the profitt of sugar works.” By 1700, the economies of the West Indies and New England were closely interwoven. Soon farmers and merchants in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were also shipping wheat, corn, and bread to the Caribbean. By the1750s, about two-thirds of New England’s exports and half of those from the Middle colonies went to the British and French sugar islands.The sugar economy linked Britain’s entire Atlantic empire. In return for the sugar they sent to England, West Indian planters received credit — in the form of bills of exchange— from London merchants. The planters used these bills to buy slaves from Africa and to pay North American farmers and merchants for their provisions and shipping services. The mainland colonists then exchanged the bills for British manufactures, primarily textiles and iron goods.The Urban EconomyThe West Indian trade created the first American merchant fortunes and the first urban industries (Map 3.2). Merchants in Boston, Newport,Providence, Philadelphia, and New York invested their profits in new ships; some set up manufacturing enterprises, including twenty-six refineries that processed raw sugar into finished loaves. Mainland distilleries turned WestIndian molasses into rum — producing more than 2.5 million gallons in Massachusetts alone by the 1770s. Merchants in Salem, Marblehead, and smaller New England ports built a majorfishing industry by selling salted mackerel and cod to the sugar islands and to southern Europe. Baltimore merchants transformed their town into a major port by developing a
bustling export business in wheat, while traders in Charleston shipped deerskins, indigo, andrice to European markets.
MAP 3.2The Rise of the American Merchant, 1750Throughout the colonial era, British merchant houses dominated the transatlantic trade in manufactures, sugar, tobacco, and slaves. However, by 1750, American-born merchants in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia had seized control of the commerce between the mainland and the West Indies. In addition, Newport traders played a small role in the slave trade from Africa, and Boston and Charleston merchants grew rich carrying fish and rice to southern Europe.As transatlantic commerce expanded — from five hundred voyages a year in the 1680s to fifteen hundred annually in the 1730s — American port cities grew in size and complexity. Seeking jobs and excitement, British and German migrants and young people

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