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Empire at the Periphery

British Colonists, Anglo-Dutch Trade, and the Development of the British Atlantic, 1621-1713

Christian Koot

Publication Year: 2011

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

Published by: NYU Press

Cover, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-x

List of Illustrations, Maps, and Tables

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xv

In the ten years spent working on this project, I have accumulated many debts. As a work of comparative history, this study would not have been possible without the multitude of talented scholars who provided the foundation upon which many of its claims rest; most notably those who labored to translate Dutch documents, collect biographic information, and deeply...

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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...

PART ONE: Beginnings, 1620–1659

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1 Interimperial Foundations: Early Anglo-Dutch Trade in the Caribbean and New Amsterdam

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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...

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2 “Courted and Highly Prized”: Anglo-Dutch Trade at Midcentury

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pp. 47-83

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...

PART TWO: Achieving Stability, 1660–1689

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3 Mercantilist Goals and Colonial Needs: Interimperial Trade amidst War and Crisis

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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...

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4 Local Adaptations I: Anglo-Dutch Trade in the English West Indies

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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-ton Experiment, “had been cleared there [Falmouth] from Barbadoes for Amsterdam without Unloading her whole Cargo.” Racing to Falmouth to investigate the situation, Hayne arrived after dark, but was pleasantly...

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5 Local Adaptations II: Anglo-Dutch Trade in New York

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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...

PART THREE: Maturity, 1689–1713

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6 “A Conspiracy in People of All Ranks”: The Evolution of Intracolonial Networks

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pp. 181-213

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...

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Epilogue. Diverging Interests: Anglo-Dutch Trade and the Molasses Act

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pp. 215-227

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...


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pp. 229-284


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pp. 285-293

About the Author

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pp. 295

E-ISBN-13: 9780814749425
E-ISBN-10: 0814749429
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814748831
Print-ISBN-10: 081474883X

Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2011