MHS Calendar of Events

7 August 2013 this event is free Brown Bag

Private Lives and Public Spaces: John Banister and Colonial Consumers

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Marian Desrosiers, Salve Regina University

Tourists stream into shops and restaurants on Banister's Wharf in Newport, purchasing products from Rhode Island and around the globe. When merchant John Banister (1707-1767) owned this wharf in the 1740s, he imported luxury apparel, tools, household items, and foods from many places. For nearly thirty years Banister's ships traded goods from and to other American colonies, the West Indies, and Europe. The Banister account books provide a focus on this golden era of trade. Lists of commodities provide information about the lives of consumers and producers in the public marketplace. The transactions reveal a merchant's family expenses and income. Banister's careful delineation of profit, loss, commissions, taxes, and ownership shares provides insight into his roles as merchant, retailer, ship owner, broker, and as a trade and industry leader of Newport. These details of mid-eighteenth-century Rhode Island reveal how Banister, as an adventurous capitalist, influenced the economy of pre-Revolutionary America.


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