The French Transatlantic Steam Packet Programme of 1840

By Stephen S. Roberts, published August 1987


By the 1830s, maturing technology made transatlantic steam packet service practical.  Britain responded with several successful commercial operations, including Cunard. The scope of an 1838 French program to compete with the English, expanded to include military reserve capabilities and support the strong nationalist policies of the French premier Adolphe Thiers, led to proposed government operation of packet service, unlike the English commercial choice, and a building program ensued.  English geopolitical choices in the Middle East changed the economic landscape so that French packet services were never realized. The French Navy, however, did benefit from the 18 new steamers it received.

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Filed under: Atlantic | Other (Nineteenth C)
Subjects include: Administration | Strategy & Diplomacy

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