THE historian in pursuit of fundamental factors in nineteenth century history could hardly fail to select as one of them the world trade supremacy of Great Britain. Here was the greatest nation of traders the world had yet seen. The British people had built for themselves a new industrial system, an immense merchant navy, and a volume of commerce of such staggering proportions that during the greater part of the century they had no serious business competitors. The fact had the deepest meaning for all the world. It underlay British naval ascendancy and promoted the continued expansion of the Empire; it created a banking power which made London the principal money market of the world and established British investments in all continents. Englishmen thus had an incalculably great influence in the affairs of the world; their country was the only real world power of the nineteenth century, and the sinews of that power were manufacturing, trading, shipping, and investing.