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Early American Consumerism and its Impact on The Independence Movement Overview Stephen Marini.

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Presentation on theme: "Early American Consumerism and its Impact on The Independence Movement Overview Stephen Marini."— Presentation transcript:

1 Early American Consumerism and its Impact on The Independence Movement Overview Stephen Marini

2 Emerging Consumer Politics The concept of consumer politics will be introduced and its impact on the American Independence movements and post independence nation building. The rise of colonial consumerism and power that this gave to colonists transformed the relationship between the colonies and Britain. This new consumerism gave the colonists influence with the British creating the power to boycott British imports with significant results. The transition of power from the producers to the consumers began to create a parity of sorts between Britain and the Colonies. Consumerism also made it possible for colonists to identify fellow colonists that were with the resistance movement vs, those that were supporting British rule by their conspicuous consumption of British goods. Relating consumerism today and what it says about us as individuals and as Americans will also be discussed.

3 Objectives Discover the factors that influenced the economic values of early Americans Determine a timeline for a transition of material values through changing needs and emerging motivations relating to wants or desires in the colonies. Focus on the economics aims and needs of Britain and the emerging dependence on the colonial consumers for wealth creation. Discuss the connection between these economic pressures and the changing perception of the colonists of their individual power and their institutions, both in Britain and in the colonies. Determine the economic factors that may have instigated, empowered and emboldened the independence movement. Discuss post independence economic drivers that impacted the creation of the constitution and the new republic.

4 Procedure Using Breen assertion that during the middle fifty years of the eighteenth century nothing short of a revolution occurred in colonial consumerism. Colonists became awash in imported British consumer goods that in turn transformed their world materialistically, socially, and conceptually. The colonists may have been self-aware or conscious of this transformation and may have used this new economic reality of consumerism to further political goals. Colonists who did not tow the line by participating boycotts were spotted and threatened. Discussion questions: "how" and "why" did “revolution” in consumption occur in the colonies? What accounts does Breen use to make his case regarding the rise of consumerism? How did the purchasing power of colonists change from ? It seems the wealth increased during this period, but estimates of per capita economic growth do not show a dramatic increase. How can we reconcile this apparent discrepancy? How did Boycotts create a new political force in the colonies? –Stamp Act –Townsend Duties –Tea Act

5 Procedure Pose the question and lead discussion: How did the boycotting of goods from Britain impact the independence movement? –Allowed for the identification of “traitors” by their lack of participating in boycotts and their buying habits. –Allowed organizers to create a sense of empowerment and cohesiveness to the movement. –Created anxiety in Britain that revenue from the colonies could possibly be interrupted. –These mass participation boycott events became a model for organizing political movements. –Withholding through boycotting became equated with résistance of tyranny and sacrificing of material comfort for a higher purpose. –These concepts of sacrifice and resistance may have resonated with the spirit of resistance and sacrifice of the earliest settlers but in the context of emerging consumerism approaching 1770

6 Bibliography T. H. Breen, The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence. New York: Oxford University Press


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