Writing in 1732, the anonymous pamphlet The British empire in America lamented that the British Sugar Colonies “will soon be reduc’d to a Condition too wretched to be name, and an End be put to the British Empire in America.” The pamphleteer was not alone, and others ranging from Members of Parliament to merchants, described how New Englanders undermined the British sugar colonies of Barbados and Jamaica. New England’s role in this controversy was clear; they readily provided the French and Dutch colonies with the one plantation necessity that they could not easily obtain elsewhere: horses. New England merchants were not concerned with upholding the empire, and they simply wanted to make money. Merchant account books and ship log books offer an insight into where the horses were sent, and with what frequency. The paper will argue that New England’s horse trading was directly tied to the wider currents of the Atlantic, notably the market for sugar and slaves.
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