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T. H. Breen, Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 61.


A striking feature of the eighteenth-century consumer revolution is the rate at which colonists purchased British imports. Demand for manufactures soared in mid-century, and British manufacturers and merchants willingly supplied the goods to meet it.  At the same time, the colonial population was growing exponentially. Population growth and increasing demand reveal interesting aspects to the relationship between mother country and colonies, as suggested in this excerpt.

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 “By 1773 the colonists purchased almost 26 percent of all domestically produced goods that were exported out of the mother country. This was a very significant development. At the beginning of the century the colonists received only 5.7 percent of England’s total exports…. However impressive these aggregate trade statistics may appear, they take on even greater significance when interpreted in the context of a growing colonial population…. Between 1740 and 1770 – the period of greatest concern for the development of a consumer society – the population grew an astonishing 137 percent. Within this demographic context, rising per capita consumption of British exports actually exceeded the rate of population increase.”


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