Pennsylvania Magazine of History & Biography
Discusses the politics of the tea trade and tea consumption in late colonial Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, through the views of tea merchants and political radicals in America. The emergence of global trade had stripped tea of its luxury status, as its price continually dropped over the early 18th century. Smuggled tea from Dutch sources lowered prices further, enabling many to boycott British tea without hardship. Tea merchants decried the boycott for economic reasons while boycott leaders sought to gain the moral high ground by re-infusing tea with luxury status. Such was the status when the 1773 Tea Act placed a small tax on English East India Company tea that was discounted below the price of smuggled tea, precipitating a confrontation between American republicanism and economic self-interest.
Original Publication Citation
Merritt, J. T. (2004). Tea trade, consumption, and the republican paradox in prerevolutionary Philadelphia. Pennsylvania Magazine of History & Biography, 128(2), 117-148.
Merritt, Jane T., "Tea Trade, Consumption, and the Republican Paradox in Prerevolutionary Philadelphia" (2004). History Faculty Publications. 29.
Posted with the permission of the publisher.