During the 17th century, North American colonial merchants were responsible for conducting coastal trade and assumed all responsibility for shipping, storing, and selling trade goods. While this system fell out of practice during the 18th century in many North American colonies, it remained the primary trade system in Carteret County. The town of Portsmouth is one example of this system. Established in 1754, town residents facilitated handling and transportation of merchant cargoes throughout the Outer Banks. A customs official was stationed in Portsmouth to inspect and tax goods coming in and out of the county.