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History of the Fur Trade

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History of the Fur Trade

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  • March 16, 2013
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HISTORY OF THE FUR TRADE
The fur trade was one of the earliest and most important industries in North America. The fur trading industry played a major role in the development of America, Europe and India for more than 300 years. The fur trade began in the 1500's as an exchange between Indians and Europeans. The Indians traded furs for such goods as tools and weapons. Beaver fur, which was used in Europe to make felt hats, became the most valuable of these furs. The fur trade prospered until the mid-1800, when fur-bearing animals became scarce and silk hats became more popular than felt hats made with beaver. This paper examines that the fur trade already had a long and remunerative history in Europe and Asia at the time that the first European traders began their activities on the North American continent with the process of incorporation and production.

Firstly, when the Europeans came to America, there were fur-bearings animals everywhere. The best quality of furs came from the north, since the animals needed a thicker coat to protect them from the harsher winter in the north. The earliest fur traders in North America were French explorers and fishermen who arrived in Eastern Canada during the early 1500's. Trade started after the French offered the Indians kettles, knives, and other gifts as a means to establish friendly relations. The Indians, in turn, gave pelts to the French. By the late 1500's, a great demand for fur had developed in Europe. This demand encouraged further exploration of North America. The demand for beaver increased rapidly in the early 1600’s; when fashionable European men began to wear felt hats made from beaver fur. Such furs as fox, marten, mink, and otter also were traded. With the further exploration and the demand for beaver increased rapidly caused to start incorporation into the capitalist world economy. The North American fur trade has been portrayed as a kinship-based mode of production that "bordered on capitalism" but was...