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Sweatshops at SeaMerchant Seamen in the World's First Globalized Industry, from 1812 to the Present$
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Leon Fink

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834503

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807877807_fink

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The Nation's Property: Nineteenth-Century Sailors and the Political Economy of the Atlantic World

The Nation's Property: Nineteenth-Century Sailors and the Political Economy of the Atlantic World

Chapter:
(p.9) 1 The Nation's Property: Nineteenth-Century Sailors and the Political Economy of the Atlantic World
Source:
Sweatshops at Sea
Author(s):

Leon Fink

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/9780807877807_fink.4

This chapter describes a world anticipated by Adam Smith, in which a relatively unfettered marketplace would maximize production, trade, and wealth for all those who could participate in its self-regulating mechanism. Yet, even as he identified the welfare of “nations” with the expansion of “wealth”—both of which, he believed, required restraint from governmental interference—Smith allowed himself some wiggle room when it came to shipping and sea power. It was no accident, he suggested, that the “first civilized” nations were those, around the coast of the tame Mediterranean Sea, that had first succeeded in “the infant navigation of the world.” Maintaining access to that navigable world and, if possible, dominance in world trade, it followed, was a crucial mark of national power.

Keywords:   Adam Smith, marketplace, self-regulating mechanism, wealth, governmental interference

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