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The Chesapeake and the Atlantic World

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The economy of the Chesapeake region was based on growing tobacco with slave labor, exporting it to Britain, and acquiring British goods in return. Elite colonial Americans were enthusiastic consumers of imported goods that signaled wealth, gentility, and status: carved hardwood furniture,...

St. James’s Square: Wedgwood and Byerley Showroom, York Street, 1809.
Guildhall Library, City of London/Bridgeman Art Library International

The economy of the Chesapeake region was based on growing tobacco with slave labor, exporting it to Britain, and acquiring British goods in return. Elite colonial Americans were enthusiastic consumers of imported goods that signaled wealth, gentility, and status: carved hardwood furniture, Chinese porcelain, silk waistcoats, creamware teapots, silver spoons, books, works of art, and exotic foodstuffs such as tea, spices, and sugar. Along with goods, colonial elites acquired British cultural knowledge, such as familiarity with classical architecture, dining and tea-drinking rituals, and the art of polite conversation.

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