Merchants and Empire: Trading in Colonial New York
In Merchants & Empire Cathy Matson examines the attitudes and practices of New York's wholesale merchants, a group that operated beneath the gaze of imperial traders yet made up as much as 80 percent of the mercantile community. She finds them an interesting, if opportunistic, lot - quick to flout authority to their own advantage, but also willing to enjoy the benefits of British imperial protection when it suited them. These merchants succeeded in extending their interior market range up navigable rivers and out early roads, drawing as many settlers as they could reach into the commercial economy. They also defied British law by trading directly with the West Indies. Such opportunism, Matson finds, finally enabled middling or lesser merchants to fashion a plausible alternative to mercantilism - and to make the challenge to British rule in 1775 commercially attractive. Merchants & Empire also offers detailed portraits of individual traders and vivid descriptions of their New York City environs, taking the reader inside the shops and warehouses where business was transacted. This book will interest students and scholars of economic history, early America, and old New York.
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