A sailing ship that becomes stalled with its bow to the wind is said to be "in irons." In this groundbreaking examination of America`s Revolutionary War economy, the phrase is an apt metaphor for the inability of that economy to free itself from the constraints of Britain`s navy. Richard Buel Jr. here investigates for the first time the influence of Britain`s navy on the American revolutionary economy, particularly its agricultural sector, and the damage that Britain inflicted by seizing major colonial centers and denying Americans access to overseas markets.
Drawing on documents newly culled from American, British, and French archives, the author shows how the French alliance, naval operations in the Atlantic and Caribbean, military operations in North America, and the policies of state and continental authorities contributed to the collapse and then revival of the revolutionary economy. Buel places the American economy in international context and discusses how both Spain and France created the conditions—though sometimes inadvertently—that bolstered the economic survival of the infant republic.