New York as a Hub of Caribbean Trade

Hampered by the limitations of its convoy system, vulnerable to weather and to attack by the privateers of rival empires, Spain could not adequately supply its American colonies with food and other necessities. So colonists in Spanish America turned to traders in the British empire to supply their needs. New Yorkers and colonists in other British seaport cities eagerly expanded their commerce. Selling fish, lumber, and flour to places such as Havana and Mexico City, traders returned with sugar, coffee, and badly needed silver coin.
 
By the 1740s, New Yorkers had established extensive trading networks with Spain’s mainland and Caribbean possessions, and those of the Dutch, French, and Portuguese as well, despite imperial efforts to keep colonial trade within their separate empires. This burgeoning commerce stimulated local production and agriculture and made New York into a significant Atlantic port city.

Juan Bautista Romero (Spain, 1756–after 1802), Still Life with Chocolate and Strawberries, ca. 1775–90. Oil on panel. North Carolina Museum of Art, Purchased with funds from the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest), G.52.9.184. Mesoamerican chocolate made from cacao beans captivated Europeans, especially Spaniards, who sweetened their chocolate drink with sugar. New Yorkers developed their own sweet tooth, mixing their chocolate from Spanish America with sugar from British colonies. 
Juan Bautista Romero (Spain, 1756–after 1802), Still Life with Chocolate and Strawberries, ca. 1775–90. Oil on panel. North Carolina Museum of Art, Purchased with funds from the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest), G.52.9.184.
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