[Marxism] Fwd: H-Net Review [H-Albion]: Shimko on David, 'Trade, Politics, and Revolution: South Carolina and Britain's Atlantic Commerce, 1730-1790'

Andrew Stewart hasc.warrior.stew at gmail.com
Mon Aug 26 17:11:14 MDT 2019

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Andrew Stewart 
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Begin forwarded message:

> From: H-Net Staff via H-REVIEW <h-review at lists.h-net.org>
> Date: August 26, 2019 at 1:30:23 PM EDT
> To: h-review at lists.h-net.org
> Cc: H-Net Staff <revhelp at mail.h-net.org>
> Subject: H-Net Review [H-Albion]:  Shimko on David, 'Trade, Politics, and Revolution: South Carolina and Britain's Atlantic Commerce, 1730-1790'
> Reply-To: h-review at lists.h-net.org
> Huw T. David.  Trade, Politics, and Revolution: South Carolina and 
> Britain's Atlantic Commerce, 1730-1790.  Columbia  University of 
> South Carolina Press, 2018.  280 pp.  $59.99 (cloth), ISBN 
> 978-1-61117-894-4.
> Reviewed by Alison Shimko (Independent Scholar)
> Published on H-Albion (August, 2019)
> Commissioned by Patrick J. Corbeil
> Shimko on David, _Trade, Politics, and Revolution: South Carolina and 
> Britain's Atlantic Commerce, 1730-1790_
> David Huw's _Trade, Politics, and Revolution: South Carolina and 
> Britain's Atlantic Commerce, 1730-1790 _highlights the critical 
> relationship between London's "Carolina merchants" and the South 
> Carolina merchants in America for whom they petitioned, lobbied, and 
> advocated in the eighteenth century. This relationship evolved 
> before, during, and after the American Revolution as their political 
> and commercial interests disentangled. David argues that by exploring 
> the nuanced commercial and economic interests of London's Carolina 
> merchants, we may better understand "how economic and political 
> forces were interrelated in the growing disenchantment of South 
> Carolinians with their metropolitan trading partners and the system 
> they represented" (p. 2). Thus, David's Atlantic approach adds 
> another layer of complexity to the American Revolution: though the 
> relationship between London Carolina merchants and South Carolinians 
> was lucrative, their economic interests could only remain intact so 
> long as their political interests were aligned. Furthermore, the 
> tensions that developed between British merchants and their 
> counterparts in South Carolina "reflected in microcosm with 
> geopolitical shifts of the time and show at an individual level how 
> disenchantment with and then resistance to imperial authority 
> developed" (p. 6). 
> David identifies the complex aspects of the London merchants' lives 
> that made them so invested in South Carolina's well-being, both 
> politically and commercially. London merchants were tied to South 
> Carolina because many of them had lived there for an extended period 
> of time, perhaps working as ship captains or serving as commercial 
> apprentices before entering the trading business (chapter 1). Thus, 
> they had family, property (absentee landholding is the subject of 
> chapter 3), and social connections across the Atlantic. These 
> personal factors compounded the commercial and economic interests 
> that drove London merchants to work in the interests of the colony. 
> This was unique for the mainland colonies and provided the foundation 
> for "the particular activism" of South Carolina's London merchants 
> (p. 72). 
> One of the first major successes of the London merchants focused on 
> South Carolina's staple cash crop: the 1730 Rice Act. The act was the 
> result of twenty years of petitioning and lobbying, which resulted in 
> the liberalization of the trade of thousands of barrels of rice to 
> the Iberian Peninsula while still fitting into the mercantilist 
> paradigm. Direct export would benefit South Carolina but would also 
> benefit Britain in South Carolina's demand for boats and timber. 
> Britain's 1748 Indigo Bounty encouraging the production of indigo in 
> South Carolina with a sixpence-per-pound bounty on imports of indigo 
> further demonstrated how Carolina merchants aspired to fulfill both 
> South Carolina and London interests. Though they were not always 
> successful (for example, in their fight against the impressment of 
> traders in the Royal Navy during the War of Jenkins' Ear [1739-48] 
> and King George's War [1744-48]), merchants in London fighting on 
> South Carolinians' behalf solidified confidence in their relationship 
> and assured mutual interests. Petitions to the royal government 
> "articulated a familiar rhetoric of economic patriotism, carefully 
> attuned to prevailing political-economic discourse" that sought to 
> help both Britain and South Carolina (p. 64). 
> David identifies a shift in the relationship between South Carolina 
> and London merchants in the 1760s in chapter 4. This evolution was 
> not due solely to the political ideologies of the merchant-planter 
> elites, as has been argued by Robert Weir. Here is the crux of 
> David's argument: as commercial aspects of their relationship began 
> to devolve (in the wake of growing condemnation of British 
> mercantilism, growing commercial disagreements, and generational 
> shifts), so too did the political aspects of their relationship. This 
> growing distrust between Charles Town's merchants and their London 
> counterparts was impacted by, and was indicative of, growing colonial 
> objections to British subjugation. It was both acutely personal and 
> symbolic of the growing misalignment between colonies and mother 
> country. Furthermore, Charles Town merchants increasingly interpreted 
> London merchants' political actions--lobbying against the Mutiny and 
> Stamp Acts--as evidence of economic greed rather than altruistic 
> defense of justice and the constitution. Though commercial interests 
> had always been a factor in the lobbying and petitioning by London 
> merchants on South Carolina's behalf, changes in their business 
> practices suggested that the former were working with London's 
> interest in mind rather than Charles Town's. The new generation of 
> London Carolina traders required bonds and stronger contracts, did 
> not have the background of living in South Carolina to tie them 
> personally to the colony, and devalued indigo (the colony's second 
> most valuable export). 
> South Carolinians drew a parallel with British efforts to gain 
> greater control over the colonies as the London merchants basked in 
> affluence and sought to gain more power in an increasingly imbalanced 
> relationship. By extension, London merchants' failure to petition or 
> lobby on contentious political matters of the 1760s and 1770s 
> (coastal shipping, the Townshend Duties, etc.) demonstrated that 
> Britain's merchants "were not willing to risk their role and 
> influence as commercial interlocutors on matters of political 
> principle, especially where these matters seemed to have little 
> bearing on their trade" (p. 122). This would have a profound impact 
> on the resumption of trade after the Revolutionary War. David 
> concludes _Trade, Politics, and Revolution_ with the aftermath of the 
> war, arguing that although there were "structural continuities" in 
> trade after the war, South Carolina merchants' selection of 
> pro-American sympathizers with whom to trade is evidence of a more 
> nuanced reality (p. 132). 
> _Trade, Politics, and Revolution_ is a thorough exploration of the 
> merchant relationships between South Carolina and London that draws 
> upon an impressive archival base, including correspondence, 
> petitions, newspapers, and merchants' logs. Though David explores the 
> historiographical debates in terms of South Carolina's commercial and 
> political role in the eighteenth century, there is a presumption of 
> historiographical knowledge regarding the American Revolution, the 
> role of South Carolina in the Revolution as compared to other 
> colonies, and the larger debate regarding the causes of the war. 
> Therefore, David's book is likely to find its audience among 
> scholars, graduate students, and upper-level courses on Atlantic 
> history, the American Revolution, and South Carolina.  
> David's work is an important contribution to the history of South 
> Carolina and the American Revolution, as he explores how and why 
> South Carolina's merchant-planter elite distanced themselves from the 
> mutually beneficial relationship with their London correspondents. 
> More broadly, his work challenges previous interpretations of the 
> hostility between South Carolina and London merchants, and how this 
> reflected, by extension, antagonism between North America and 
> Britain. David demonstrates that the dissolution of these commercial 
> and political relationships was not brought about by economic or 
> political tensions, but that rather the picture is more nuanced, as 
> economics and politics were inextricably entwined. 
> Citation: Alison Shimko. Review of David, Huw T., _Trade, Politics, 
> and Revolution: South Carolina and Britain's Atlantic Commerce, 
> 1730-1790_. H-Albion, H-Net Reviews. August, 2019.
> URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=54344
> This work is licensed under a Creative Commons 
> Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States 
> License.

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