Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Susan M. Walcott - Chair

Second Advisor

John E. Allensworth

Third Advisor

Truman A. Hartshorn


This research assesses how political legislation served as the catalyst in the transformation of Massachusetts through four specific economic stages from 1763 to 1825: fishing, privateering, global maritime commerce, and textile manufacturing. The objective of this analysis is to examine how politics forced coastal merchants to invest their commercial wealth into the burgeoning interior textile industry of the New England hinterland. Vance's mercantile model best explains European settlement of New England since multiple communities developed along the Atlantic coastline of the Massachusetts Bay region. Boston, Salem, and Newburyport emerged as entrepots, which acted as intermediaries between Europe and the frontier. The methodology analyzes academic texts by historical geographers and on-site research through shiplogs in the archives at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. Merchant acumen, venture capital, and British technology transformed Massachusetts from the golden age of shipping to the birth of the industrial revolution in North America.