Humanities in Class: Webinar Series

Consumer Politics in the American Revolution

Lead Scholar: T. H. Breen (Fellow, 1983–84; Fellow, 1995–96)

October 16, 2012

The men and women of the American Revolution were united as consumers before they came together as rebels. Through the mid-1700s, as the wealth of the colonies increased, Americans from Portsmouth to Savannah bought the same imported goods. Their shared desire for and dependence upon British cloth, ceramics, tea, and other items created a common experience. When the colonists became convinced that they could preserve their liberties only by overthrowing British rule, they drew upon this experience to unite in a new form of political protest. How did the decision to wear homespun cotton instead of imported linen mobilize resistance to the Crown? How was the American Revolution a tempest about a teapot?

Subjects: Economics; History; Economic History; American Revolution; Thirteen Colonies; Consumerism; Material Culture