Marketplace of Revolution

form of politics? Did politics sometimes, for example in the debate over
segregation, serve as moral suasion? Were antislavery petitions not both
moral suasion and politics? Laurie argues that petitions ‘‘transformed’’
Elizur Wright and several colleagues ‘‘from moral suasionists into political abolitionists’’ (41). By limiting his definition of politics, Laurie misses
the opportunity to heal an interpretive breach in the historiography.
Several qualities make this book a possible resource for the undergraduate classroom. The text is filled with sharp portraits of individual
political actors, both written and photographic, which make the text accessible. In addition, the historiography is painted in broad strokes that
should spark lively classroom discussion. Laurie is also to be commended for his frequent citations of his students’ seminar papers, which
are a wonderful illustration to students that their work can matter. Overall,
Beyond Garrison is a thought-provoking new book that has an original argument and original research to interest readers.
  H  C  is an assistant professor at Northern Illinois
University. She is the author of ‘‘Writing the History of Violence,’’
Journal of the Early Republic (2004), and is currently working on a book
manuscript about violence, anti-Jacobinism, and antislavery in the early
American republic.
Cultural Change and the Market Revolution in America, 1789–1860.
By Scott C. Martin, ed. (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005.
Pp. 295. Cloth, $75.00; Paper $29.95.)
The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped
American Independence
. By T.H. Breen. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Pp. xviii, 380. Illustrations. Cloth, $35.00; Paper,
Much like the ‘‘industrial revolution’’ or the ‘‘rising bourgeoisie,’’ the
term ‘‘market revolution’’ can be applied to developments from the early
modern period ca. 1600 to the expansion of East Asian manufacturing
in the twenty-first century. The juxtaposition of T.H. Breen’s
The Marketplace of Revolution—the title, one may speculate, a conscious variant
on Charles Sellers’s
The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815–
(New York, 1991)—and Scott C. Martin’s edited collection, Cul
tural Change and the Market Revolution in America, provides the
opportunity to think about whether the term is becoming overused. Was
there, in fact, one market revolution in the late eighteenth century, and
another in the early nineteenth century? Surely there was one in the late
nineteenth century, when the nation’s railroad mileage increased from
30,000 to 250,000 between 1860 and 1900; or in the early twentieth,
when the Sears Catalogue, department stores like Wanamaker’s, and automobiles and trucks greatly increased the mobility of people and goods;
or in the late twentieth with airplanes and trade with the Third World?
In the economic if not the political realm, are we approaching the Jeffersonian limit of a revolution every twenty years in economics if not in
At any event, it is hard to argue with the fine research and intelligent
arguments put forward by either Breen or Martin and his coauthors.
Breen offers two important points. The consumption of British goods
had appeared to become a ‘‘necessity of life’’ by the end of the French
and Indian War. Colonists of all classes and geographic regions had
become accustomed to imported household items, and realized they
thereby possessed economic leverage in dealing with British restrictions
on their trade. Furthermore, the market was the economic equivalent of
the public sphere in which anyone with a shilling, as with a voice or a
vote, could make his or (because women too were consumers) her presence felt by deciding whether to boycott British goods and begin using
domestic equivalents.
Breen appropriately centers his analysis on the nonimportation agreements, both during the late 1760s and in the mid-1770s. By deciding to
repudiate British goods, colonists culturally declared independence before Congress did so politically. Others may prefer to focus on either
British attempts to restrict access to the frontier (as Woody Holton has
Forced Founders [Chapel Hill, 1999]) or more traditionally on the
Stamp Act riots as crucial turning points in the mobilization of public
support for resistance to post-1760 British measures that challenged several areas of colonial autonomy. But when we combine taxes on imports
and customs regulations with Britain’s fear that frontier settlement would
reduce imports, and the impact of the Stamp Act on trade—it placed
duties on commercial documents—with the fact that consumers’ selfdenial was the principal means of colonial resistance (relatively few colonials participated in riots or wrote pamphlets), Breen must be applauded
for restoring the economic element as critical to the path to Revolution

and in a novel way. His analysis unites rather than divides the classes, or
the cities and farms, behind common grievances and policies; whether
issues dividing colonial society other than between patriots and loyalists
mattered as much is another question too complex to discuss here.
The ten essays in
Cultural Change and the Market Revolution in
remind us, in the words of contributor James Taylor Carson,
that ‘‘market revolutions are not contests of impersonal forces but struggles waged by individuals within a changing world economy’’ (82). What
is most striking about these essays is the contradiction between the moral
justification of the capitalist marketplace—that the almighty dollar and
supply and demand create a ‘‘free’’ space of human interaction unencumbered by prejudice—and the efforts by various participants to keep others from entering that space or from reaping the promised advantages by
their participation therein.
To begin, Patrick Rael and Kevin Thornton call attention to, respectively, African Americans and French-Canadian immigrants to northern
Vermont, two groups who despite their efforts to enter the marketplace
found themselves relegated, by cultural prejudice, to the margins thereof.
Rael challenges the traditional explanation that lower-class blacks suffered from neglect by a successful black elite—such an interpretation
itself is a prejudicial judgment that ignores cross-class efforts by black
leaders to help the less fortunate. Blacks did what they could to succeed
in the market through their own enterprises and by appealing to the
rhetoric of the market to plead for fair play. African Americans, like the
French Canadians Kevin Thornton discusses, whether through necessity
or preference, found communities based on family, religious, and ethnic
ties more satisfying than attempted entries into the supposedly open society.
Even where an outside group, such as the Choctaw Indian women
discussed by James Taylor Carson, successfully turned cattle-raising into
a profitable enterprise, their impressive achievement could be wiped out
by Indian removal. They had hoped to prosper while retaining their
cultural and family ties, but succeeded only as long as whites did not
covet their land.
Manual education, as Jeffrey Mullins shows, was a way of trying to
bridge the gaps between different sorts of white men: It was a way to
educate the lower orders for upward economic mobility, as well as a
means of preventing the upper class from growing effete. Still, it turned
into primarily a means of tracking poor men into higher reaches of the

working class. And while it may seem a stretch to include animals among
those brought unwillingly into the market on unequal terms, Brett
Mizelle poignantly shows how the unfortunate creatures trained to do
tricks were exploited for public amusement. His main point, however,
concerns the anxieties generated by these shows: These money-making
schemes, including P.T. Barnum’s and other freak shows, were considered simply too ‘‘low’’ for respectable society.
Regional and international as well as ethnic and racial considerations
limited acceptance of market ideals. Southerners as described by Joseph
Rainer rightly suspected Yankee peddlers of trying to take advantage of
them; he reminds us no market is ever perfectly ‘‘free’’ but all require
some elements of regulation to preserve peace and order. (I received a
call from a telemarketer as I was writing this review.) Similarly, it is hard
not to sympathize with the rural New Englanders described by Catherine
Clinton, who consciously limited their consumption in an effort to obtain
a civility that prevented a never-ending cycle of attempting to keep up
with the Joneses, which they perceived as the vice of the urban nouveau
riche. (See Paul Fussell’s
Class [New York, 1983] for similar behavior
among America’s ‘‘old money’’ today.) And as anyone who lives in a
state with state-owned liquor stores can tell you, capitalist America has
frequently drawn a line at the commodification of spirits: Graham
Warder writes about
Ten Nights in a Barroom, a book that was paradoxically a huge economic success in its own right—second only to Uncle
Tom’s Cabin
as a best-seller in the 1850s—yet highly persuasive in recruiting opponents of the free sale of the product it discussed. Finally,
Scott Martin uses the play
Metamora to position the general American
market culturally midway between Indian ‘‘savagery’’—that justified removal—and British civility, a goal many purchasers hoped to reach
through acquisition of the proper goods, both cultural and material, to
compensate for their own feelings of cultural backwardness.
In short, Martin’s collection offers great insight into how different
people used the market for a variety of purposes, including efforts to
curb it by expanding opportunity for some groups, socially excluding
others, achieving moral reformation, and attaining civility. All of which
brings us back to the American Revolution and Breen’s book. Along
with the market revolution came the reaction against it. Soul-searching
about the merits of excessive consumption and evangelical cries for moral
purification accompanied increasing use of imported goods and the
expansion of American trade to the Far East immediately following the

Revolution. To offer two examples: First, the gentility to which upperclass Americans aspired was predicated upon the market yet regulated
the manner in which goods were obtained and consumed. Second, even
today, many Americans prefer comfortable subsistence to profit maximization, the mentality described by James Henretta in his classic article
(‘‘Families and Farms: Mentalite´ in Pre-Industrial America,’’
and Mary Quarterly
, 3d ser., 35, 1978: 3–32).
Thus, the excellent work of Breen and Martin et al. causes us to question the very revolutions they posit: Except for quantitative leaps in consumption, perhaps we are dealing with an ongoing conflict between two
sets of ideals, individualism and pursuit of wealth on the one hand, community and morality (or at least mores) on the other, ideals that contradicted and complemented each other as much in John Winthrop’s 1630
‘‘City Upon a Hill Speech’’ (be moral and prosper) as in our present
capital-R Republican party’s efforts to reconcile the very same ideals.
   P  , professor of history at Penn State, is completing a
biography of Bishop William White, founder of the American Episcopal
Church; his major long-term project is a history of the (John) Jay family.
Their Right to Speak: Women’s Activism in the Indian and Slave
. By Alisse Portnoy. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,
2005. Pp. xii, 290. Cloth, $49.95.)
Alisse Portnoy’s
Their Right to Speak examines the debates about women’s right to petition that arose during the Indian removal and slavery
controversies of the 1830s. Some of Portnoy’s ideas will be familiar to
readers of this journal, since she published elements of this book here in
2003. Nevertheless, an overview of her findings is in order.
Portnoy’s story starts in January 1830, when sixty-one women in Hallowell, Maine, signed and sent to Congress a petition protesting the government’s removal of the Cherokee nation from Georgia. Portnoy has
found that some 1,500 other women sent similar petitions to Congress
over the next two years, in a campaign that, surprisingly, Catharine Beecher secretly helped to orchestrate. Beecher’s role is especially noteworthy given her later public opposition to similar efforts by abolitionist
women, especially her war of words with Angelina Grimke´ in 1837.
Much of Portnoy’s book attempts to explain the contradiction between

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