obligation & Tension: Credit, War, and Imperial Crisis in the British-American Northeast, 1688-1775

Fifield, Donovan, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Edelson, S. Max, History, University of Virginia
Edelson, S. Max, University of Virginia

In the eighteenth-century Colonial American northeast, war depended on finance initiated at municipal, provincial, and imperial levels of government. This type of war finance depended on the participation of individual colonists such as merchants, town leaders, and colonial military officers. Successful war finance and military provisioning in the colonial theaters of major European wars depended on extensive delegation to local authorities. This delegation allowed for efficiency, but it also fractured metropolitan England's centralized political influence over colonists across the Atlantic. The Seven Years' War saw an attempt by metropolitan appointees to work around delegating authority to colonial governments by directly contracting a relatively small number of merchants to serve as direct financiers to crown officers without needing colonial assemblies to serve as middlemen. This unleashed the ability of British forces to draw on colonial funds and contributed to ultimate victory against the French by 1763. However, this change in financial contracting methods also led to the overextension of mercantile debt at the same time that Parliament implemented postwar taxes to fund imperial expenditures. This overextension of debt produced credit crises in commercial port towns like Boston and New York. Economic downturn aggravated colonial animosities against imperial government in the 1760s and 1770s. Competing economic interests between towns and imperial policymakers escalated during this period and contributed to the ultimate fragmentation of these colonists from the British imperial state by 1775.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Colonial America, Seven Years' War, War of the Austrian Succession, King William's War, Charles Apthorp, Thomas Hancock, John Hancock, William Bayard, debt, Boston, New York, William Shirley, John Winslow, American Revolution, Imperial Crisis, William Phips, Cyprian Southack, Louisbourg, Halifax
Sponsoring Agency:
Mercatus CenterInstitute for Humane StudiesMassachusetts Historical Society
Issued Date: