THE SWEETS OF INDEPENDENCE: A READING OF THE "JAMES CARROLL DAYBOOK, 1714-21"
Flanagan, Charles M.
Sies, Mary C.
This dissertation is a study of the "James Carroll Daybook," a journal of transactions that a colonial Maryland planter and merchant used between 1714 and 1721. This Irish Catholic partisan's career is illustrative of early eighteenth century mercantile culture in which one could gain elite status by using intellectual skills to master the market and by owning consumer goods. The dissertation is, thus, a material culture study of the commerce that yielded Carroll a fortune and secured his social standing. The literature of the eighteenth-century consumer revolution provides the intellectual foundation of this study, which uses a method derived from performance theory to analyze sequences of trade as dialogues about value. Carroll's accounts are organized in topical chapters about domestic furnishings, local trade, Atlantic trade, consumption, and preserving a legacy. Each chapter studies related transactions in the context of scholarship, yielding a case study showing the consumer revolution in action. This study complements quantitative social histories by examining a living network of trade and detailing the differentiated use of goods by people from all social ranks. This dissertation discusses an important era of change in colonial Maryland. It studies the commercial accounts of a merchant and analyzes trade as dialogue about how people valued material items. It examines Carroll's role as an advocate for Catholic rights in the colony, showing him as a defiant figure who used consumption to assert his status and Catholic interests. It also details his contributions to a Catholic gentry faction in Maryland politics. It presents a close study of Carroll's local and trans-Atlantic business, to show how local trade, the slave trade, and the import trade worked. It demonstrates the lucrative quality of skilled accounting in managing commercial data and demonstrates the role of a merchant as a credit source in a society without banks. It discusses Carroll's consumer buying and spending, including his use of consumer goods as forms of payment, and his plans to educate an heir. In sum, this is a study of the commerce that provided opportunities for James Carroll and a study of material culture in colonial Maryland.