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Title: The Atlantic at work : Britain and South Carolina's trading networks, c. 1730-1790
Author: David, Huw T.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2711 8113
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis describes the sixty years of transatlantic interaction, connection, dislocation and reconstruction in Anglo-Carolinian trade between 1730 and 1790. Focussing on about two dozen of London’s ‘Carolina traders’, it integrates their personal and collective stories of profit and loss, reputation and notoriety, and political activity and inactivity, with the broader forces they shaped and were in turn shaped by – forces of economic growth, political stability and instability, and imperial harmony and disharmony. Through their conjoined political and commercial agency – a dual role better appreciated by contemporaries than by historians – they profoundly influenced commerce between Britain and South Carolina. Their intermediation served firstly as a stabilising force in the Anglo-Carolinian polity as they procured favourable treatment for the colony’s goods and represented its grievances in the imperial metropolis. An important influence on this was their ‘absentee’ ownership of property in South Carolina and the thesis explores in depth the underappreciated prevalence and significance of this transatlantic absenteeism. From the mid-1760s, however, the traders’ political and commercial agency aggravated intra-imperial discord. Disputes between British merchants and their Carolinian correspondents reflected in microcosm the geo-political shifts of the time and reveal at an inter-personal level how resistance to British imperial authority developed among Carolinians. Furthermore, these disputes played a constitutive role in this resistance, as the purported commercial iniquities and political orientations of British merchants led their correspondents to question and reject the commercial and political norms that had once sustained Anglo-Carolinian relations. The thesis thus helps explain how South Carolina moved, often imperceptibly, against British authority during the 1760s and early 1770s by emphasising commercial discord within the growing political-economic friction. It further contributes to the burgeoning historiography of the eighteenth-century ‘Atlantic world’ by exploring the reconstruction of trading links between Britain and South Carolina after American independence. It reveals how strongly these were influenced by pre-war politics. In so doing, it demonstrates that Carolinians exercised greater commercial discretion after the war than contemporaries and historians have appreciated, and thus challenges contentions of South Carolina’s continuing commercial subservience to British trading interests.
Supervisor: Gauci, Perry L. Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Eighteenth-Century Britain and Europe ; History of North America ; International,imperial and global history ; merchants ; England ; London ; South Carolina ; Charleston (S.C.) ; history ; trade ; commerce ; American Revolution ; Eighteenth century