Early American Trade with China

Trade Routes & Trading Strategies

Economics of the China Trade

Contrasting Views of Trade

Life on a Merchant Ship


Concluding the lesson

Make sure students have understood the main ideas of the lesson:

  1. Trading strategies changed over time as the supply or demand for different products fluctuated.

  2. Trade with China has been a small but growing part of U.S. import/export trade from the founding of the American Republic.

  3. The young United States needed capital in order to develop. Individual businessmen who became very rich through the China trade invested their money in business ventures, real estate, and infrastructure in the United States.


The United States still struggles to find commodities that the Chinese want and can afford and still experiences a large trade deficit in its trade with China (the largest between the U.S. and any other country). Questions to discuss with students might include:

  • Why does the United States experience a trade deficit with China now? Are the causes the same as those that caused a deficit in the early years of U.S.—China trade?

  • What commodities does the United States import from China? What does the U.S. export?

  • Should we be concerned about the trade deficit with China? Why is it perceived as a problem by the United States?



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