The extraordinary growth of American foreign trade since 1922 is rapidly restoring maritime affairs to their normal place in our national life, and hence reviving our traditional “sea-mindedness.” It is only the last two generations of Americans who have been engrossed almost exclusively with the extensive development of vast internal resources.
The seven generations before them looked to the sea as a primary means of domestic transportation and an indispensable agency of national business and prosperity. The connection which the sea gave to the outside world for the carriage of exportable surplus goods and of needful imports, was then, as it is once more, a cardinal factor in our national economics.
Of the economic crisis which came to New England in 1641 as a reflex of the Civil War in the mother country, Governor Winthrop wrote:
All foreign commodities grew scarce, and our own of no price. Corn would buy nothing; a cow which cost last year £30 might now be bought for £4 or £5…These straits set our people on work to provide fish, clapboards, plank, etc. and to look out to the West Indies for a trade.