This book examines the relationship between imperial governance and political economy in eighteenth-century Britain, particularly in Canada and Ireland. It is concerned with the way economic ideology and party politics were mutually constitutive; and with the way extra-parliamentary interests both facilitated, and were co-opted into, strategies of governance and commercial regulation. Rather than treat political economy as a pre-existing intellectual orthodoxy that shaped imperial policymaking, it focuses on the ways in which economic thought was generated in moments of imperial crisis – especially those where politicians, commercial interest groups, and pamphleteer economists were forced to wrestle with the tensions between economic growth, political authority, and social stability. By rooting economic discourse and debate in specific problems of imperial commerce and administration, and by highlighting the many different actors and negotiations that produced economic policy, it argues that the transition from mercantilism to liberalism – the shift from protectionism to free trade – is a flawed description of eighteenth-century developments in economic thought.
Table of Contents
1. Commercial Credibility and Imperial Expansion: Establishing the Whig Establishment
2. "Imaginary Wants" and the Limits of Empire
3. Public Safety, Public Interest: The Militia and the Seven Years "War for Commerce"
4. Economies of Allegiance: The Quebec Act
5. Imperial Wealth and Disreputable Interests: Ireland and the Stamp Act
6. Interest Politics and Empire in the Age of Revolution
Heather Welland is an assistant professor in the History Department at Binghamton University, State University of New York.