This article explores America’s earliest engagement with the transpacific world and in particular with China. From the mid-eighteenth century, Americans seeking new economic opportunities considered Asia and the Pacific region important to their development. Taking advantage of their geographical proximity to both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Americans developed ways to connect the two regions. These transoceanic networks of trade proved crucial to the economic and political development of the young United States and set the stage for its future influence in the region.

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