This enthralling book is the first to uncover the story of New York City merchants who engaged in forbidden trade with the enemy before and during the Seven Years’ War (also known as the French and Indian War). Ignoring British prohibitions designed to end North America’s wartime trade with the French, New York’s merchant elite conducted a thriving business in the French West Indies, insisting that their behavior was protected by long practice and British commercial law. But the government in London viewed it as treachery, and its subsequent efforts to discipline North American commerce inflamed the colonists.
Through fast-moving events and unforgettable characters, historian Thomas M. Truxes brings eighteenth-century New York and the Atlantic world to life. There are spies, street riots, exotic settings, informers, courtroom dramas, interdictions on the high seas, ruthless businessmen, political intrigues, and more. The author traces each phase of the city’s trade with the enemy and details the frustrations that affected both British officials and independent-minded New Yorkers. The first book to focus on New York City during the Seven Years’ War, Defying Empire reveals the important role the city played in hastening the colonies’ march toward revolution.
In the first half of the 18th century, France and Britain engaged in several wars for control of North America, culminating in the Seven Years' War (1756-63). Throughout that time, enterprising Colonial merchants engaged in controversial trade with French ports. Using a multithematic approach, Truxes (senior lecturer in history, Trinity Coll., Hartford; Irish American Trade, 1660-1783) examines New York City's participation in smuggling and privateering before and during the war, both at sea and on the city's streets. Combining elements of political, economic, military, social, and legal history, Truxes describes the operations in which merchants and sailors engaged. He presents both the merchants' views that their practices were perfectly legitimate and the Crown's perspective that these acts were treasonous. All the while, Truxes keeps the book's theme in context, providing brief overviews of the war's major events and the influence those events had on domestic trade and politics. Helpful end matter includes a chronology of events, glossaries of persons and terms, relevant legal decrees, and notes. This lively and scholarly analysis of a largely untreated topic would be an excellent purchase for academic libraries and public libraries with strong Colonial history collections.