Papers presented by Jeremy Land since 2019
2022 Mexico City
"Currency, Credit, and Imperial Deficiencies: Colonial American Business Practices and Maritime Trade before Independence"
Jeremy Land, University of Helsinki
This paper explores how colonial American merchants conducted business with a nearly constant shortage of credit, currency, and imperial support for maritime commerce. With little specie on hand, largely due to the lack of attention or capacity from the British Empire, American merchants developed intricate and often complicated credit and accounting networks and tricks that allowed trade to continue. Producers and merchants both experienced the same issues and worked together in a variety of ways to overcome the chronic deficiencies in locally available currency. Moreover, the British imperial state placed legal limits on American commerce, but merchants consistently found avenues around the rules and regulations, in many instances smuggling to obtain the goods customers demanded. Through a discussion of 18th century business practices, the paper argues that Britain lacked the imperial capacity it needed to support the maritime commerce of American merchants, and merchants, as a result, developed mechanisms and practices that disregarded the state’s policies to meet their individual commercial needs.
2020 Charlotte, North Carolina
"A Regional Complex: Colonial Business Networks in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia"
Jeremy Land, Georgia State University
If one views a map of the Atlantic Ocean, the distance between Boston, New York, and Philadelphia seems miniscule in comparison with the distance between those three cities and Europe. Unfortunately, economic histories of the colonial economy tend to emphasize the connections between English merchants and their colonial customers. Yet, for Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, most of the three cities’ trade found its way to places NOT in the British Isles (as much as 80% for most years). Merchants in these three cities dominated coastal and West Indian trade, mostly trade between colonies. They did so primarily because of their well-established networks between merchants in the three cities. As a result of a chronic shortage of specie throughout the colonial period, British American merchants, especially in these three cities, developed complicated accounting and credit networks, providing a comparative advantage over other merchants based in the West Indies and Southern colonies. As a result, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia developed into a regional nodal center of Atlantic trade throughout the European colonies in the Western Hemisphere, not just the British Empire. The paper explores the various mechanisms that merchants in these three cities utilized to conduct and expand their trade throughout the colonial period.