Linking four continents over three centuries, Selling Empire demonstrates the centrality of India—both as an idea and a place—to the making of a global British imperial system. In the seventeenth century, Britain was economically, politically, and militarily weaker than India, but Britons increasingly made use of India’s strengths to build their own empire in both America and Asia. Early English colonial promoters first thought of America as a potential India, hoping that the emerging Atlantic colonies could produce Asian raw materials. When this vision failed to materialize, Britain’s circulation of Indian manufactured goods—from umbrellas to cottons—to Africa, Europe, and America then established an empire of goods and encouraged many British people to debate whether or not their empire itself was good for Britain or India.
Eacott takes a new look at the British empire's history and geography by tracing the development of consumer culture, the American Revolution, and British industrialization through the commercial intersections linking the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. From the seventeenth to the nineteenth century and beyond, the evolving networks, ideas, and fashions that bound India, Britain, and America shaped the persisting global structures of economic and cultural power and interdependence.
This book will be of considerable interest to students and scholars of Indian, British, colonial American, imperial, and global history.
List of Illustrations
Abbreviations and Short Titles
1. “Those Curious Manufactures That Empire Affords”:
India Goods and Early English Expansion
2. An Imperial Compromise: The Calico Acts, the Company, and the
3. Enforcement, Aesthetics, and Revenue
4. A Company to Fear: India and the American Revolution
5. Empires, Interlopers, Corruption, and America’s Early India Trade
6. Remapping Production, Rethinking Monopolies
7. The French Wars and the Refashioning of Empire