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316 THE CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW Governments and Contractors: The BritishTreasuryand War Supplies •775- •783. •ox•MAr• BAdcm,. London,AthlonePress, •97I. PP.x, e74. œ4.oo. NormanBakerisan assistant professor at the StateUniversity of New York at Buffalo.His book,numberthirtyin theUniversity of LondonHistoricalStudies series, fillsa gapin ourknowledge of administration in theeighteenth century. It ismeticulously researched, rationallyorganised, andwellwritten. After describing how the work of the TreasuryBoardwasorganised, Baker explainshow contracts were negotiated, awarded,terminated,and sometimes renegotiated. The hard workwasdoneby the government despatching agents at Cork in Ireland, and Cowesand Deptfordin England.They had to ensure the quantity,quality,punctualdelivery, andstorage of unprecedented amounts of provisions andequipment. Porkbarrels stuffed with trotters andheads, 'hot' flour,stones amongthepeas,and the useof greenwood- staves became scarce -which causedbarrelsto split and expose provisions to the weather,were a few of their worries.The Navy Board'sagents'storyis well documented; the effect on the countryside of heavy demandbecauseof war remainsto be explored, although Bakerhintsat some of them. In the earlydaysmostcomplaints aboutprovisions camefrom the userin America. But by the time they were examinedthe contractedsix months guarantee had often expired.Even if the faultyitemscouldbe tracedto a particularconsignment, the contractor couldclaimthat storage on quaysat Bostonor New York or a bad voyagewas responsible for rotten contents. Eventually,test samples of each contractor's consignment were kept under reasonable conditions at theportfor twelvemonths. Thisarrangement extended the guarantee,but protectedthe contractorfrom careless handling by his customers. Members of Parliament alleged thatthecontractors weremakinghugeprofits and criticised theirpoliticalconnections with the Ministry.Althoughthe critics had often beenmisinformed, after the fall of Lord North in •78e Francis Baringwas commissioned to handlesupply.Under the new government he dealt directlywith the numerous agentsin the country,and individualcontractswerediscontinued . Thisprogressive stepNorth himselfmighthavetaken had he stayed in power.Baring's organisation wasmoreefficient and reduced expense byabout•o percent. Members'complaintsabout Treasurycontractsand the contractors were justifiedin that the latter did little elsefor their profitsbut manipulate the marketaccording to variables suchasweather,cropyields,and wagelevels. The TreasuryBoarditselfwasinactiveoncethe contractwasmade.Robert Gordonand JohnMarsh at Cork, two of the Navy Boardagents, had to sort out themuddles on the ground.Not that Gordonwasleft a poormanbythe war.Buttheprofits, except for those on RichardAtkinson's rum contract, had beenonly •o per centsince•78o andno morethan •o per centin theearlier years. As to the patronage issue, therewasevidence that mostof the contractors REVIEWS 317 wouldhavevotedfor thegovernment with or withoutcontracts. The Treasury had contracted with the wealthiest and most reliable merchants. Baker's accountof their background and business versatilityis interesting. Anthony Baconownediron worksand ships, wasa coalcontractor in Cumberland and South Wales, owned propertyin Virginia, and had family connections in Maryland.RichardAtkinsonhad plantations in the West Indieswherehis rum wasmade,and ships to carryit to the armyin America.HenryDrummond ,whowith RobertHarleywasthe commissioner whohandledthe supply of œ•7,ooo,ooo in specie betweeni77o and I783 at i• per cent,had impeccable bankingconnections. Making moneywasthe concernof thesemen. Theyweredependable andhonest; fewof themhadpoliticalambitions. On the otherhand theywerenot specialists in supplying armies:militarycontractorswere a special breedwhichthe smallBritishstanding army did not encourage. It is now generallyunderstood that individualmerchants did not greatly influence Britishgovernments in theeighteenth century. Baker's work,incidentally ,underlines thepointagain.Moreimportant isthatit provides a newbase for studies of theimpactof eighteenth-century warsonfamilyfortunes, regional industry, trade,employment, andstandards of living.I hopethatmorewill be donein thisdirectionaswell ason government administration. D.S. GRAI-IAM University of New Brunswick The HistoryofLondon:Hanoverian London•7•4-•8o8. cv, oxm•, RUDe,. London, Secker& Warburg [Toronto,William Heinemann],I97•. Pp. xvi, 27I, illus. $•3-95. 'He who is tired of London is tired of life.' Dr Johnson's dictum reflects eighteenth-century London's mostnotablecharacteristic-its growing sense of being,not merelythe majormetropolis of the kingdom,but the greatest city in the world.Alreadyone-sixth of the wholekingdomat the beginning of the eighteenth century, it increased bytwo-thirds to nearlya millionpeople in the course of thecentury, largelybydrawingyoung people(liketheyoungSamuel Johnson) fromtheprovinces, theCelticFringe,andoverseas. It became much the largestport in the world and one of the greatest consumer markets;it facedtheproblems of majorurbanizationincluding those of large-scale water supply, planneddevelopment, andurbanrenewal- morethana centurybefore the othergreatindustrial cities.In the process, asthe gulfbetween privileged and unprivileged widened,it becamethe first greatforcinghouseof urban radicalism and discontent. Professor Rud• hasmadea comprehensive, highlyreadable, and generally excellent presentation of the elements of thisdevelopment. He wiselymakes gooduseof theworkof hisdistinguished...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 316-317
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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