Consuls, Corsairs, & Commerce

The Swedish Consular Service &
Long-Distance Shipping, 1720-1815


By Leos Muller
December 2004
Uppsala University Press
ISBN: 9155460038
268 pages, Illustrated, 6 " x 9 "
$62.50 Paper Original


Eighteenth-century Swedish consuls played an important role in the establishment of Sweden's trade links with the Mediterranean and, after 1780, with the 'West Indies' - the latter including the young American republic. However, historians have paid scant attention to their role. This book attempts to fill this gap. The consular service is analyzed as part of an institutional framework, helping to reduce the transaction costs of Swedish actors in long-distance trade and shipping.

The book focuses on the establishment of the Swedish consular service in two specific areas: southern Europe after 1720, and the United States after 1783, and it links the establishment of the service to Sweden's ambitious contemporary commercial policy. Special attention is paid to the growth in Swedish shipping activities.

Traditionally, its growth in the eighteenth century has been associated with protectionism, as embodied in the Swedish Navigation Act (1724). This book instead focuses on the role of the consular service, in particular in reducing the threat from North-African corsairs, and on the role of Sweden's neutrality in the late eighteenth century. The book argues that neutrality was a crucial factor in the growth of Swedish shipping in the course of the wars between the great powers.

Economic History
Studia Historica Upsaliensia, No. 213

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