Lead: Having lost the competition to build the fastest ships on the transatlantic route, the United States regained the lead only to witness the end of the regular ocean passenger service.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the mid-1800s the major maritime powers, Britain and the United States, were locked in a fierce competition to provide regular and fast shipping service on the Atlantic routes for passengers, mail, and cargo. As the contest intensified the swiftest ship could claim the Blue Riband, the mythic reward for the fast Atlantic crossing. British shippers led by Samuel Cunard's sail and steam side-wheelers took the lead from the Americans because of generous subsidies from Parliament and because they were quicker to take advantage of innovations in ocean transport. Soon the Brits were launching all steam ships with iron hulls, swamping their American rivals. By the 1860s, distracted by a decade of Civil War and recovery and reluctant to spend tax-payers money subsidizing the Atlantic Ferry, the United States largely dropped out of the transatlantic routes and the race for the Blue Riband. The prize was mostly traded back and forth by several British lines.

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