Slightly odd thought

The first surprise is the role of Spain in the revolutionary war. In Paris in December 1776, Benjamin Franklin met in secret with the Count of Aranda, quickly convincing him Spain needed to side with the Americans. Ships leaving New England already called at Spanish ports such as Bilbao and Cádiz to purchase cod and flour.

Why would people just off the Grand Banks come to Spain to purchase cod?

I don’t know if they did or not but it does seem to be an odd thing to be doing.

10 comments on “Slightly odd thought

  1. I’m reading The Wealth of Nations on my commute whenever I can summon up the willpower. There is lots on the colonies in book 4, and I got the impression that the North American colonies *sold* fish internationally in defiance of the home government. But they surely had to preserve it somehow before a transatlantic voyage.
    It’s probably not something they could collect on the passage.
    Sorry – the index is rubbish so I have no more than my recollection.

  2. “The first surprise is the role of Spain in the revolutionary war.”

    It’s only a surprise if you are a historical ignoramus. But … Guardian.

  3. Salted cod. By the time we were throwing our British cousins out on their asses, salt had been a cheap commodity for close to 100 years. Processing salt cod was simple and inexpensive.

    Cod came from those nations that fished the North Atlantic and was in great demand throughout the southern parts of Europe back in the day. There shouldn’t be anything surprising about Spain buying cod from the USA… if you aren’t historically illiterate, that is.

  4. @DtP

    Ships leaving New England already called at Spanish ports such as Bilbao and Cádiz to purchase cod

    Why would people just off the Grand Banks come to Spain to purchase cod?

    USA Buying not selling

  5. Totally O/T but there’s a Spanish guy in Aranda de Duero restores old Yank cars along with providing the local tow service.Everything from 20’s up to the 50’s. Has he got some beautes. The temptation to toddle up to Burgos & take ownership of some classic metal is positively overpowering. If you’re ever that way he lurks in what looks like a derelict factory side of Carretera de Madrid, heading south out of town. Worth stopping & admiring but make sure you haven’t got your check-book with you.

  6. Pcar –

    My bad. I can only read so much Guardian in one day. I skimmed it…

    Anyway, I’m going to look into that. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Canada and the State were awash in cod. I have trouble imagining the US needing to buy cod at any time in her history. And while I’m not completely up to snuff on my 18th century trade, I don’t recall reading of Spain having fishing fleets in the Northern Atlantic.

  7. In short, ship ballast. Whatever cargo you sailed to Spain with you then needed something to balance your vessel with for the return journey.

    You could then sell it when you got back to New England.

  8. djc, dearieme: So you can make a profit on both parts of the journey. A holdful of rocks is very dense, not worth very much though, is it?

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