NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Trade Disruptions and America's Early Industrialization

Douglas A. Irwin, Joseph H. Davis

NBER Working Paper No. 9944
Issued in September 2003
NBER Program(s):   DAE   ITI

Between 1807 and 1815, U.S. imports of manufactured goods were severely cut by Jefferson's trade embargo, subsequent non-importation measures, and the War of 1812. These disruptions are commonly believed to have spurred early U.S. industrialization by promoting the growth of nascent domestic manufacturers. This paper uses a newly available series on U.S. industrial production to investigate how this protection from foreign competition affected domestic manufacturing. On balance, the trade disruptions did not decisively accelerate U.S. industrialization as trend growth in industrial production was little changed over this period. However, the disruptions may have played a limited role in shifting resources from trade-dependent industries (such as shipbuilding) to domestic infant industries (such as cotton textiles).

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9944

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