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Merchants and Empire

'Merchants and Empire' cover image

Merchants and Empire

Trading in Colonial New York

In Merchants and Empire, Cathy Matson examines the economic ideas and behavior of New York City's commercial wholesalers, especially the middling merchants who, as a majority of active traders, affected the character of city commerce over its colonial years. Although less prominent in transatlantic dry goods commerce than the great traders, this middling majority spread dissenting economic ideas and flouted political authority time and again when the benefits to their interests were clear. Indeed, middling or lesser merchants fashioned a plausible alternative to mercantilism, and contributed significantly to the challenges Americans offered to British rule in the final colonial years.