Revolutionary Trade: US Commercial Networks in South America during the Age of Revolution
Conference on Latin American History 48
Contributing to the 2017 annual meeting theme, “Historical Scale: Linking Levels of Experience,” the papers on this panel combine the broad contours of political economy and Atlantic trade with atomized analysis of the choices individual merchants made. Edward P. Pompeian demonstrates that U.S. merchants in Venezuela used their influence as cultural go-betweens to shape diplomacy and profit from revolution. Tyson Reeder examines links between U.S. merchants’ trade and their political ideology, highlighting their support of republican movements in Brazil to secure freer trade. Through the prism of a New York trader, Olga Gonzalez-Silen explores one individual’s strategies to become a U.S. consul (a diplomatic post that encouraged private gain) in the Caribbean while also reflecting on the perils Spanish American independence posed to U.S. merchants.
The panel should interest early Americanists and Latin Americanists working in Atlantic, economic, political, or diplomatic history. It suggests avenues for integrating the histories of the North and South Atlantics. Comparative histories of North and South America have enriched the historiography of the colonial and early national Americas, but the Atlantic field still lacks a robust literature that incorporates the two regions as a cohesive unit of analysis. By revealing the influence of private networks on international relations, these papers carry diplomatic history beyond the realm of the state. That approach allows historians to analyze early U.S.-Latin American relations outside of traditional imperial/national frameworks.