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Title: Running the rivers : the North West Company and the creation of a global enterprise, 1778-1821
Author: MacQuarrie, Aisling
ISNI:       0000 0004 5361 3409
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2014
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The North West Company, a Montreal based fur trading corporation, dominated by Scots, developed a commercial operation that between 1779 and 1821 extended to the Atlantic and Pacific axes of the British Empire. The enterprise emerged at a critical juncture in the development of Empire. It was a period of colossal growth and partial dismemberment as well as one of redefinition. Adapting Atlantic and trans-oceanic perspectives this dissertation examines the socio-entrepreneurial networks forged by the North West Company as it sought to expand its commercial reach to encompass Montreal, Quebec, London, New York, Calcutta, Bombay and Canton in a hitherto unexplored form of global economy. To date Imperial and fur trade studies have viewed the fur trade within the confines of a British North Atlantic triangle. This historiographical tendency towards a geographically limited concept of the trade has been exacerbated by the perceived political and economic dislocations brought about by the loss of the American colonies in 1783. The dissertation revises historical orthodoxies to reveal the scale and scope of the fur trade as a pan-imperial activity. Exploring the Company's multi-layered networks highlights not only how the merchants integrated their operation into the Anglo-American Atlantic and beyond but also demonstrates how the Empire actually operated, bringing together its maritime and continental spheres. Identifying the origin, character and evolution of their business practices and linkages modifies conceptions of an increasingly centralised imperial economy of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Merchants negotiated between competing and at times overlapping tensions on a local, provincial, imperial and global level as they traversed a plurality of political, cultural and legal frameworks. The manner in which the fur traders co-ordinated and structured their organisation in response to these tensions further challenges the idea of an uncomplicated metropolitan control to reveal the existence of a negotiated imperialism. Placing the North West Company in a broad context allows for a critical and meaningful revision of key geographic, economic, political and chronological disjunctures within the historiography of this crucial phase of Britain's Empire.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Donald Withrington Trust ; University of Aberdeen ; College of Arts and Social Sciences
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: North West Company