Trade Disruptions and America's Early Industrialization

37 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2003 Last revised: 5 Nov 2010

See all articles by Douglas A. Irwin

Douglas A. Irwin

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Joseph H. Davis

The Vanguard Group

Date Written: September 2003


Between 1807 and 1815, U.S. imports of manufactured goods were severely cut by Jefferson's trade embargo, subsequent non-importation measures, and the War of 1812. These disruptions are commonly believed to have spurred early U.S. industrialization by promoting the growth of nascent domestic manufacturers. This paper uses a newly available series on U.S. industrial production to investigate how this protection from foreign competition affected domestic manufacturing. On balance, the trade disruptions did not decisively accelerate U.S. industrialization as trend growth in industrial production was little changed over this period. However, the disruptions may have played a limited role in shifting resources from trade-dependent industries (such as shipbuilding) to domestic infant industries (such as cotton textiles).

Suggested Citation

Irwin, Douglas A. and Davis, Joseph H., Trade Disruptions and America's Early Industrialization (September 2003). NBER Working Paper No. w9944. Available at SSRN:

Douglas A. Irwin (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Joseph H. Davis

The Vanguard Group ( email )

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United States

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