The North Atlantic Fare War of 1904


ARTICLE on the 1904 fare war's impact on migration:

scroll down for it: here


TEXT EXCERPT from Business of Transatlantic Migration, chapter 4


"The 1904 'war' in passenger fares on the North Atlantic was a key consequence of shipping lines' failed attempts at self-regulating competition through corporate combination and inter-firm agreement during 1900-03...The origins and outcomes of this fare war have nonetheless long been shrouded in historiographical obscurity. How the war started and ended, who won and lost by it, and even when it occurred have been subject to varying interpretation...The confusion partly arises out of a mystery as to why consolidation in North Atlantic shipping should have intensified competition there...




Effects in the USA:

 “Immigration Figures Lower. Officials Not Alarmed -Flood Below

   Last Spring’s Mark”   

        (New York Times, June 15, 1904)


Effects in Britain and Germany:

 “British Prime Minister Arthur Balfour introduced a restrictive immigration bill

   to the House of Commons.”

 "[In] November [1904], [shipping] executives...settled their differences.”

        (Brinkmann, ‘Why Nathan Attacked Ballin,’ pp. 76-77)


Effects in Scandinanvia:

 “The rate war alone cost DFDS [Scandinanvia America Line] 1 million kroner

  [268 thousand U.S. dollars,  or the 2010 equivalent of about US$11 million]."

        (Per Kristian Sebak, “Russian-Jewish Transmigation,”

          in Tobias Brinkmann, ed., Points of Passage, p. 136)