Wars and Trade merchants During the various wars in the Americas, the range of goods available through merchants helped the British war machine. In the absence of a central quartermaster to organize military purchases, individual British commanders negotiated contracts with merchants to provision their armies with food, clothing, and other essential gear. The merchants also assisted the soldiers by offering payday loans. The slow communication of the era meant that some soldiers ran out of money before receiving their pay. Merchants bought the future wages of soldiers, at a discount, in exchange for providing immediate cash. Until the eve of the American Revolution, merchants rarely cooperated with each other outside of partnerships. In 1761, the merchants of Boston, Newport, and Providence formed the first monopoly in America in an attempt to form a pool to regulate prices and restrict output of spermaceti candles and other whale products. The venture failed. Boycotts of British goods had more success. The periodic boycotts that occurred between 1765 and 1774 brought temporary unity among patriot merchants. Neutral and loyalist merchants, estimated to be more than 60 percent of all merchants, did not join these Revolutionary efforts. Caryn E. Neumann See also: Board of Trade; Economy, Business, and Labor (Chronology); Economy, Business, and Labor (Essay); Mercantilism; Trade; Document: Petition of London Merchants for Reconciliation with the Colonies (1775). Bibliography Findlay, Ronald. The Triangular Trade and the Atlantic Economy of the Eighteenth Century. Princeton, NJ: International Finance Section, Department of Economics, Princeton University, 1990. Pusateri, C. Joseph. A History of American Business. Arlington Heights, IL: Harlan Davidson, 1984. Schlesinger, Arthur M. The Colonial Merchants and the American Revolution. New York: Atheneum, 1968.
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