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Got Silk?: Buying, Selling, and Advertising British Luxury Imports During the Stamp Act Crisis

Description: Despite the amount of scholarship on the Stamp Act Crisis, no study has used advertisements as a main source. This study attempts to show that a valuable, objective source has been overlooked, through the quantitative analysis of 5,810 advertisements before, during and after the Stamp Act Crisis from five port cities: Boston, Charleston, Philadelphia, New York, and Portsmouth. The findings reveal the colonists' strong connection to imported British luxury goods, and a lack of interest in American-made goods, especially before and after the boycott. Advertisements also demonstrate that the decision of many merchants to place the needs and expectations of their community before their own personal gain offered a rare economic opportunity for others. The colonists' devotion to imports tested the strength of the boycott, especially among Boston merchants, who continued to advertise imported goods a good deal more than any other city. This lack of dedication to the boycott on the part of the Boston merchants shows disunity among the colonies, at a time when many argue was the first instance of colonial nationalism. Capitalism challenged and undermined a commitment to communal sentiments such as nationalism. Moreover, if Americans did share a sense of nationhood during the Stamp Act Crisis, it cannot be gauged by a rejection of "Englishness."
Date: August 2007
Creator: Busse, Michele Conrady
Partner: UNT Libraries