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Empire at the Periphery

Empire at the Periphery: British Colonists, Anglo-Dutch Trade, and the Development of the British Atlantic, 1621-1713

CHRISTIAN J. KOOT
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 312
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qfdc2
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  • Book Info
    Empire at the Periphery
    Book Description:

    Throughout history the British Atlantic has often been depicted as a series of well-ordered colonial ports that functioned as nodes of Atlantic shipping, where orderliness reflected the effectiveness of the regulatory apparatus constructed to contain Atlantic commerce. Colonial ports were governable places where British vessels, and only British vessels, were to deliver English goods in exchange for colonial produce. Yet behind these sanitized depictions lay another story, one about the porousness of commercial regulation, the informality and persistent illegality of exchanges in the British Empire, and the endurance of a culture of cross-national cooperation in the Atlantic that had been forged in the first decades of European settlement and still resonated a century later.In Empire at the Periphery, Christian J. Koot examines the networks that connected British settlers in New York and the Caribbean and Dutch traders in the Netherlands and in the Dutch colonies in North America and the Caribbean, demonstrating that these interimperial relationships formed a core part of commercial activity in the early Atlantic World, operating alongside British trade. Koot provides unique consideration of how local circumstances shaped imperial development, reminding us that empires consisted not only of elites dictating imperial growth from world capitals, but also of ordinary settlers in far-flung colonial outposts, who often had more in common with--and a greater reliance on--people from foreign empires who shared their experiences of living at the edge of a fragile, transitional world.Part of the series Early American Places

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-4942-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations, Maps, and Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    A 1700 engraving of New York City pictures a thriving British port in the midst of a period of rapid economic growth.¹ The harbor bustles with activity. A great vessel, its sails full of wind, glides to join another already lying at anchor. Sailing among these massive seagoing vessels are smaller coastal craft busily carrying goods to and from the quays or perhaps bringing imports from surrounding colonies. The print portrays a vibrant yet orderly landscape; neatly arranged warehouses and countinghouses line the waterfront as tidy rows of homes stretch to the horizon. A serene hinterland fades into the background...

  6. PART ONE Beginnings, 1620–1659

    • 1 Interimperial Foundations: Early Anglo-Dutch Trade in the Caribbean and New Amsterdam
      (pp. 17-46)

      On the evening of September 29, 1632,¹ the governor of the small and struggling English colony of Nevis welcomed a guest to dinner. Since the colony was blessed by abundant supplies of wood and water as well as a “fine sandy bay” that made it easy for “boats to land,” Governor Thomas Littleton was accustomed to receiving visitors from a variety of European empires. Their ships not only brought news, diplomatic intelligence, and fellowship, but also trade goods invaluable to the four-year-old colony that constantly feared the return of ravaging Spanish invaders. That evening his guest was David Pietersz. de...

    • 2 “Courted and Highly Prized”: Anglo-Dutch Trade at Midcentury
      (pp. 47-84)

      In 1652, imperial warfare interrupted the collaborative, if competitive, relationship that had distinguished Anglo-Dutch interaction on both sides of the Atlantic since the mid-sixteenth century. Though the execution of Charles I in 1649 infuriated Dutch supporters of the Dutch stadtholder, William II of Orange (himself tied to Charles I by marriage), it was the English Commonwealth government’s newfound bellicosity in challenging Dutch commercial superiority that turned most Dutch burghers against England. When treaty negotiations that had initially held the potential of creating a union between the two Protestant powers broke down after the United Provinces refused to give the English...

  7. PART TWO Achieving Stability, 1660–1689

    • 3 Mercantilist Goals and Colonial Needs: Interimperial Trade amidst War and Crisis
      (pp. 87-116)

      Burdened by the disruptions in trade that the just-completed Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665–67) had caused as well as the need to provision a larger than usual garrison of English troops and an influx of refugees fleeing the French invasion of St. Christopher, Nevis was on the verge of disaster in the fall of 1668. With many on the island reduced to eating “the hearbs of the soile boyled wth salt only,” Governor James Russell received word from the masters of three vessels—two Dutch and one French—who understood “too well” the colony’s “wants” that they were willing to...

    • 4 Local Adaptations I: Anglo-Dutch Trade in the English West Indies
      (pp. 117-150)

      In October 1680, the surveyor for His Majesty’s Customs at Falmouth, Samuel Hayne, was in Cornwall, England, when he learned that “a great Ship,” the 300-tonExperiment, “had been cleared there [Falmouth] fromBarbadoesforAmsterdamwithout Unloading her whole Cargo.” Racing to Falmouth to investigate the situation, Hayne arrived after dark, but was pleasantly surprised to receive an invitation to dine at the home of a local notable, Sir Peter Killigrew. Unsure why he had been extended such a generous offer, Hayne soon discovered that the invitation was a ruse designed to distract him: while he had been dining...

    • 5 Local Adaptations II: Anglo-Dutch Trade in New York
      (pp. 151-178)

      In the late summer of 1669, the New Yorker Aegidius Luyck received news that one of his more ambitious business ventures—a scheme which involved merchants in New York and the Dutch Republic as well as the governor of New York—was on the verge of disaster. This Dutch-born former Latin instructor and minister was in Amsterdam representing the commercial interests of a number of New York traders including the newly installed English governor, Francis Lovelace. Unfortunately, Luyck learned officials in New York City had stymied his plan to purchase and freight theHopewellto trade between the Netherlands and...

  8. PART THREE Maturity, 1689–1713

    • 6 “A Conspiracy in People of All Ranks”: The Evolution of Intracolonial Networks
      (pp. 181-214)

      Working in the Caribbean during the first decade of the eighteenth century, the English mariner Samuel Brise was well placed to monitor the ship traffic that made these waters among the busiest in the Western Hemisphere. Based in Curaçao between 1704 and 1708, Brise later recalled to the Council of Trade and Plantations the names, shipmasters, cargoes, and destinations of numerous British colonial vessels that called at the Dutch colony. Even though he claimed that he “could [have] give[n] a far Larger account of … this Clandestine Trade” if he had not “Lost Many of … [his] Papers,” Brise nonetheless...

  9. Epilogue. Diverging Interests: Anglo-Dutch Trade and the Molasses Act
    (pp. 215-228)

    In the two decades that followed the end of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713, British West Indians’ and British North Americans’ interests diverged. The Anglo-French wars were costly for colonists, but they failed to disrupt the trajectory of colonial development, and over time the British West Indies and British North America developed ever-more distinctive economies, the first dominated by production of one leading staple, the second by a diverse blend of economic activity. Though interdependent, the regions’ growing economic divergence caused colonists’ perspectives on interimperial trade to pull further apart. Trade between British and foreign colonies in...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 229-284)
  11. Index
    (pp. 285-294)
  12. About the Author
    (pp. 295-295)