The Trouble With Tea: The Politics Of Consumption In The Eighteenth-century Global Economy by Jane T. MerrittThe Trouble With Tea: The Politics Of Consumption In The Eighteenth-century Global Economy by Jane T. Merritt

The Trouble With Tea: The Politics Of Consumption In The Eighteenth-century Global Economy

byJane T. Merritt

Paperback | December 22, 2016

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Americans imagined tea as central to their revolution. After years of colonial boycotts against the commodity, the Sons of Liberty kindled the fire of independence when they dumped tea in the Boston harbor in 1773. To reject tea as a consumer item and symbol of "taxation without representation" was to reject Great Britain as master of the American economy and government. But tea played a longer and far more complicated role in American economic history than the events at Boston suggest.

In The Trouble with Tea, historian Jane T. Merritt explores tea as a central component of eighteenth-century global trade and probes its connections to the politics of consumption. Arguing that tea caused trouble over the course of the eighteenth century in a number of different ways, Merritt traces the multifaceted impact of that luxury item on British imperial policy, colonial politics, and the financial structure of merchant companies. Merritt challenges the assumption among economic historians that consumer demand drove merchants to provide an ever-increasing supply of goods, thus sparking a consumer revolution in the early eighteenth century.

The Trouble with Tea reveals a surprising truth: that concerns about the British political economy, coupled with the corporate machinations of the East India Company, brought an abundance of tea to Britain, causing the company to target North America as a potential market for surplus tea. American consumers only slowly habituated themselves to the beverage, aided by clever marketing and the availability of Caribbean sugar. Indeed, the "revolution" in consumer activity that followed came not from a proliferation of goods, but because the meaning of these goods changed. By the 1750s, British subjects at home and in America increasingly purchased and consumed tea on a daily basis; once thought a luxury, tea had become a necessity. This fascinating look at the unpredictable path of a single commodity will change the way readers look at both tea and the emergence of America.

Jane T. Merritt is an associate professor of history at Old Dominion University. She is the author of At the Crossroads: Indians and Empires on a Mid-Atlantic Frontier, 1700-1763.
Title:The Trouble With Tea: The Politics Of Consumption In The Eighteenth-century Global EconomyFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:224 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.55 inShipping dimensions:9 × 6 × 0.55 inPublished:December 22, 2016Publisher:Johns Hopkins University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1421421534

ISBN - 13:9781421421537


Table of Contents


AcknowledgmentsAbbreviationsSeries Editor's Foreword

Introduction: Consumer RevolutionsChapter 1: The English Commercial Empire ExpandsChapter 2: The Rise of a "Tea-fac'd Generation"Chapter 3: Politicizing American ConsumptionChapter 4: The Global Dimensions of the American Tea CrisisChapter 5: Repatriating Tea in Revolutionary AmericaChapter 6: Chinese Tea and American Commercial IndependenceConclusion

NotesEssay on SourcesIndex

Editorial Reviews

While tea has long been a symbol of the American Revolution, The Trouble with Tea situates the commodity within broader economic and cultural contexts, persuasively demonstrating its role in the expansion of imperial trade and creation of complex consumer rituals long before and after 1776.