“British colonists lived in an empire of goods.” What does this statement mean and how does it help explain the origins of the American Revolution
If anyone had traveled to any of the British colonial-city at the end of the seventeenth century or at the start of the 18th century, the spectator could be shocked to witness the stagy changes in the lifestyle and living standards of the colonists. Those items that are considered basic necessities turned out to be commonplace whereas the luxury items such as embroidered waistcoats, china plates, curved and stylish chairs, and silver forks turns out to be the status co and expression of wealth and power for at least fifty years.
In the British colonies, the increasing population due to migrations increased the demand for essential goods. This results in the first internal trade by the small-scale industries in order to meet the demand of the colonist. This type of independency significantly improved the living style of the colonist and moved the society towards an empire of good.
The conversion to an individualistic and distinctive perspective could be evidently seen in spiritual beliefs in the colonies. The Great Emerging “challenged traditional [religious] norms” and divided the colonists into the “New Light’ and the “Old Lights”, which instigated much hostility between colonists(Tansill, 1774).
This dissimilarity would be accredited to the increase in the colonies’ business relations with Caribbean islands and Britain, which result in an upsurge in revenue and hence more wealth for luxury items. With more and more wealth, the arrogance among the colonies further moved from a community-based need to a more distinctive, individualistic, and unrestricted style, which could be outlined as the foundation of “Anti-British Sentiments”(Lemay, 1983). Therefore, the “empire of goods” headed towards the starting of the “American Revolution” due to the decline in reverence for authority and the increase in political conflicts.
Lemay, J. L. (1983). John Mercer and the Stamp Act in Virginia, 1764-1765. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 3–38.
Tansill, C. C. (1774). Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress, October 14, 1774. Reprinted in Making of the American Republic: The Great Documents, 1789.