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Trading SpacesThe Colonial Marketplace and the Foundations of American Capitalism$
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Emma Hart

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226659817

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226659954.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Revolution in the Marketplace

Revolution in the Marketplace

(p.135) Chapter Five Revolution in the Marketplace
Trading Spaces

Emma Hart

University of Chicago Press

Across both Pennsylvania and South Carolina, Revolutionary disruptions during the 1760s and 1770s provoked a strong reaction among traders to the seizing-up of their habitual channels of commerce. Their market places were founded on the idea that individuals should be at liberty to trade as they pleased, but this principle no longer seemed to be enough. Finding their markets in crisis, colonists inquired more closely into their function than ever before. With the happy marriage of private interest and the public good in the marketplace now challenged to the point of chaos, some colonists began to question the legitimacy of so much free trading. Their analysis relied on a heavy investment in the belief that markets should operate for a “public good.” The only question was, who was the public and whose good should it pander to? And, under what circumstances was the “public good” a desirable operating principle for the market? The experience of imperial crisis and revolutionary war would raise these questions, but it could not provide definitive answers.

Keywords:   Imperial Crisis, Regulator movement, public good, non-importation committee, inflation

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