The Fishy Tribes

 

Jefferson sends the traveler to a series of sea ports on the French Atlantic coast. He was eager to expand the trade of these ports to American products, especially codfish. To learn about “the fishy tribes,” as he called them, he spent time investigating the maritime trades in New England before he sailed to France. We follow him to the French seaports he recommended. As we travel, we kept questions in mind—where have the cod gone, and will they ever come back?

The coast of Brittany, France, not too far off Jefferson's itinerary.

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The ancient fishing port of Guilnevic. Jefferson wanted to open French ports up to American whalers, fishers, and traders. Encouraging American maritime industries served a dual purpose, he thought. Not only could we make some cash, but we'd have a ready source of sailors and ships who could be pressed into service if we needed a navy--better than maintaining a costly standing military.

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Who is happier, the fish or the fisherman?

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The coast of Brittany, France, not too far off Jefferson's itinerary.

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