Victory in the American Revolution did not bring favorable economic news for the economy of the nrw nation. Not only was there a post-war end to military spending but Independence meant that Britain prohibited American merchants from trading directly with its possessions in the Caribbean, which had been the biggest source of their pre-Revolutionary profits. This changed when England and France went to war after the French Revolution.
Foreign conflict opened a new era for American trade. The war made such demands on British shipping that British prohibitions against American vessels entering its West India ports were simply unenforceable. Aware that enemy naval superiority would put an end to its own colonial shipping, France threw open all its ports in the West Indies, East Indies, the Isle of France, and Bourbon to the neutral Americans. To the extent that the French decrees gave privileges not enjoyed before the war, they conflicted with the British ‘Rule of 1756,’ which held that a neutral might not in wartime engage in a trade closed to it in time of peace.
At first the British interpreted this principle generously, seizing only those neutral vessels that sailed directly to Europe with French West Indian produce. Indirect voyages were allowed, laying the basis for a highly profitable American carrying trade. Baltimore merchants brought French-colonial products home, landed, and then reexported them — to great advantage. The combined value of domestic and foreign goods in Baltimore’s shipments increased steadily before the Peace of Amiens in 1803. While figures for foreign goods are unavailable before 1803, the role of the carrying trade appears clearly both in the increased value of exports in 1794 and in the decline of 1802-3, when peace sent commerce into its pre-war channels.