With the ever-expanding presence of China in the global economy, Americans more and more look east for goods and trade. But as Caroline Frank reveals, this is not a new development. China loomed as large in the minds—and account books—of eighteenth-century Americans as it does today. Long before they had achieved independence from Britain and were able to sail to Asia themselves, American mariners, merchants, and consumers were aware of the East Indies and preparing for voyages there. Focusing on the trade and consumption of porcelain, tea, and chinoiserie, Frank shows that colonial Americans saw themselves as part of a world much larger than just Britain and Europe
Frank not only recovers the widespread presence of Chinese commodities in early America and the impact of East Indies trade on the nature of American commerce, but also explores the role of the this trade in American state formation. She argues that to understand how Chinese commodities fueled the opening acts of the Revolution, we must consider the power dynamics of the American quest for china—and China—during the colonial period. Filled with fresh and surprising insights, this ambitious study adds new dimensions to the ongoing story of America’s relationship with China.