Sager and Panting describe in detail the growth of the shipping industry and the economic context in which the shipping merchants operated. Shipowning and shipbuilding were a central part of the mercantile economy of the Atlantic colonies of British North America. But, following a slow and incomplete transition in the region from commercial to industrial capitalism, the shipping industry collapsed: by 1900 the local fleets were a third of their size a mere two decades earlier.
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