Early American Trade with China

Trade Routes & Trading Strategies

Economics of the China Trade

Contrasting Views of Trade

Life on a Merchant Ship


Exploring Mercantilism And The Global Economy Of The Late Eighteenth Century

Introducing the Lesson

Have each student write down several characteristics of “free trade.” Then have students share their ideas and come up with a class definition of the term.

Review with students the main tenets of mercantilism - an economic system which equated national power with the accumulation of gold or silver in the national treasury. A basic description of mercantilism is included with this lesson to aid the students in their review.

Briefly review the economic policies pursued by the nations of Europe at the time of American independence.

Put the map depicting the “Global Economy in 1775” on the overhead, and pose the following questions:


  • Where did Americans sell their goods before Independence?
  • What goods did Americans trade before the Revolution?
  • Where and what did they buy?
  • After the war with England, where could Americans sell their goods?
  • Why were the Americans interested in developing trade with China?
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