Early American Trade with China
Trade Routes & Trading Strategies

Economics of the China Trade

Contrasting Views of Trade

Life on a Merchant Ship


Suggestions for Using Material in the Unit

The lesson plans in this unit were primarily designed for use in a United States history course. However, we have tried to create activities and materials which can be used independently of one another and in various combinations so as to be of use in other Social Studies subjects. The following table suggests clusters of activities that would fit in well with the curriculum of a variety of courses taught in the Middle School and High School Social Studies.

Lesson 1: Early Trade Routes to China
Extension Activity #1: Ships’ Logs
Lesson 2: Commodities of the Trade
Lesson 4: Exploring Mercantilism
Log of the Empress of China
The Sea-Man’s Vade Mecum
John Swift’s Letter Home
Lesson 1: Exploring Mercantilism
Lesson 2: Supply and Demand
The China Trade in Context
Extension Activity (deals with balance of trade)
Lesson 3: American Ideas about Trade
Europe’s Economic Tradition
Chinese View of Trade
American Studies
Lessons 3 and 4: Reading suggestions are included in resource lists to help teachers integrate literature and fiction into these lessons.
A number of museums have artifacts and artwork relating to the early American trade with Asia and the East Indies in their collections. Examples from the collections can be viewed on museum websites. (See reference list)
World History
Lesson 1: Exploring Mercantilism
Lesson 3: American Ideas about Trade
Chinese View of Trade
Curriculum Integration

Lesson 2: Students can utilize math skills like computing percentages and creating graphs when analyzing the economic data.


Science: Lesson 2: The activity, Fortune and Failure in Furs, touches on the issue of environmental depletion and the over-harvesting of a natural resource, in this case animal furs.
  Lesson 4: Students can complete projects relating to trade winds, ocean currents, and navigation equipment when studying sailing ships.

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