Situating merchants in late eighteenth-century British Atlantic port cities

Emma Hart, Cathy Matson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Merchants living in the early modern era experienced their commercial successes and failures not only as participants in great Atlantic world networks of traders and goods, but also as residents of particular local places. Scholars’ sensitive and rich portraits of port city commerce portray international traders as the decision makers who shaped longdistance trade, which in turn had a profound influence on the developing character of individual port cities. Integrating and improving across great spans of time and space, the British Atlantic merchant formed coherent networks that shared a language of credit, trust, and profitable exchange. But just as significantly, we can start to integrate the myriad daily economic choices of local city residents with those of merchants, and we can do so productively by recognizing the “cityness” of ports, a quality constituted from the constant interactions, negotiations, and perceptions of their residents within man-made and natural surroundings. This article tests how the intertwined natures of long-distance trade and local cityness affected the different commercial trajectories of three merchants in three different British Atlantic ports.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)660-682
JournalEarly American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Issue number4
Early online date1 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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