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This authoritative statistical analysis of a Colonial American shipping register provides revealing information about the magnitude of mercantile life in early New England.
In thirty-three tables, the authors present in statistical form one of the few remaining fragments of the contents of the Massachusetts Register for the years 1697–1714. This register of colonial American shipping reveals that the Massachusetts fleet was surprisingly large—in fact third in size in the English-speaking world, exceeded only by London and Bristol. The tables and their interpretative introduction point out that the Massachusetts fleet was owned almost entirely by Americans; ownership was spread through an extraordinarily wide range of American society; and very little English capital was involved since one out of every three adult males in Boston held some share in a seagoing vessel registered in those years. The book is also notable for the fact that it is one of the first applications of the IBM for historical research.