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Constructing the Empire: English Governors, Imperial Policy, and Inter-imperial Trade in New York City and the Leeward Islands, 1650–1689


This article uses a comparative perspective to consider the role that English governors played in facilitating inter-imperial trade with the Dutch in New York City and the ports of the English Leeward Islands, including Bridgetown, Barbados, during the seventeenth century. As governors struggled to establish viable colonies these men worked to supply needed trade goods, often allowing their colonists to turn to Dutch colonies and the Netherlands as trading partners, understanding the ways in which these executives negotiated between imperial policies, primarily the Navigation Acts, and the needs of their charges is crucial to understanding how colonies developed. Further, investigating the ways in which governors fostered, regulated, or prevented inter-imperial trade with the Dutch illustrates how governors and colonists implemented and adapted mercantile policy in different colonies, places that depended upon the transfer of culture, goods and entrepreneurial activities across imperial boundaries. Complementing recent scholarship describing the extent of inter-imperial and cross-national trade in the seventeenth-century Atlantic, this article examines the impact English governors had on local merchant communities and their efforts to trade with the Dutch.

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Larry D. Gragg , Englishmen Transplanted: The English Colonization of Barbados, 1627–1660 (Oxford: Oxford university Press, 2003).

Violet Barbour , ‘Dutch and English Merchant Shipping in the Seventeenth Century’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser., 2 (1930), 261290.

J.H. Bennett , ‘The English Caribbees in the Period of the Civil War, 1642–1546’, The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 24 (1967), 359377.

J.E. Farnell , ‘The Navigation Act of 1651, The First Dutch War, and the London Merchant Community’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser., 16 (1964), 439454.

Jack P. Greene , ‘Society and Economy in the British Caribbean during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries’, American Historical Review 79 (1974), 14991517.

Richard R. Johnson , ‘The Imperial Webb: The Thesis of Garrison Government in Early America Considered’, The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 43 (1986), 408430.

Stephen Saunders Webb , ‘The Data and Theory of Restoration Empire’, The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 43 (1986), 431459.

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  • ISSN: 0165-1153
  • EISSN: 2041-2827
  • URL: /core/journals/itinerario
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