Overseas Trade and the Decline of Privateering
60 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2008 Last revised: 23 Nov 2010
Date Written: October 24, 2010
Using novel quantitative historical data on 2,483 British privateering cruises, we show that state-licensed commerce raiding by merchants was not only a popular and potentially flourishing business, but also effective in harming enemy trade during the long eighteenth century (1688-1815). Why, then, did privateering merchants gradually turn away from the enterprise, despite their success? We provide systematic evidence that the expansion of overseas trade and ensuing decline in the revenues of commerce raiding facilitated the decline of British privateering and the transition to a full public provision of sea power by the Royal Navy by the end of the Napoleonic War.
Keywords: Privateering, Navy, Trade, Britain, Public Good, National Defense
JEL Classification: N73, N43, N13, K42, H56, B15, D23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation