A Maritime History of the United States is a pioneering study of the role of civilian maritime activities in the development of the United States. It stresses the crucial role played by the oceans, rivers, lakes, and canals in the history of the nation. The exploration and settlement of North America occurred within a maritime context during the European Age of Discovery. The colonists exploited the seas and rivers to develop a maritime-oriented economy prior to the American Revolution. British trade regulations both benefited and retarded the colonists' economic growth and played a substantial role in the movement towards independence. The study concludes with a discussion of the reasons for the current decline of the American merchant marine and the dangers which that implies. Individual chapters are devoted to the fishing and whaling industries, the Great Lakes, and the western rivers.