Early American Trade with China

Trade Routes & Trading Strategies

Economics of the China Trade

Contrasting Views of Trade

Life on a Merchant Ship


Early Trade Routes to China

This activity is an introduction to and description of common trade routes between the U.S. and China. Have the students read “Early American Trade Routes to China”.

Students should note that although China was far away, trade with China was indeed an opportunity for Americans to make large profits. Tea, the major commodity brought from China, could be sold at great profit in the United States. In addition, by trading at a number of different places on the way to China, American merchants could trade a number of different commodities and make a large profit in this trade.

Using classroom maps or those provided in their text book, students should locate the places discussed in the readings. A list of the places and a blank world map are provided ("Mapping Early American Trade Routes"). Working in groups of three, students can each be responsible for learning about one of the routes described in the readings. They can then share with others in their group to produce a map with all three routes, using a different color for each.

In the discussion, point out that at this time Americans were developing substantial interests on the California coast, Hawaii, and other islands in the Pacific Ocean such as the Philippines and Fiji.


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