William Lux of Baltimore 18th Century Merchant

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1974

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The Williwn Lux Letterbook appears here in edited form, complete with index and preceded by a multi-faceted discussion of various commercial, social and political issues of the eighteenth-century Chesapeake region which are raised by the Letterbook content. William Lux was a prominent merchant of Baltimore Town who wrote these business letters from 1763-1768, chiefly to correspondents in London, Barbados, southern Europe, Philadelphia, New York, and Norfolk. It is apparent that Lux had recently expanded into new trades in the early 1760s, and his records show important exports of wheat and iron to Norfolk which went unnoticed by customs officials at Annapolis. The complicity of customs officials and other assistance from figures of the "planting society" played an important part in fostering Baltimore's rise in the wheat trade. There is evidence that both pre- and post-1763 British imperial measures threatened Baltimore's bright commercial future and provided economic motivations for the leading role the merchants there played in pre-Revolutionary agitation. There is especial analysis here of Lux 's own motivations and impetus into Revolution and the apparent war-profiteering he carried on after 1776. This suggests that possible psychological origins for Lux's trade entrepreneurship may also have predisposed an apparent "conservative, establishment type" toward a revolutionary advocacy of independence from the motherland.

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