With another American presidential election behind us, talk will inevitably turn to the economy and how the president will handle it.

That begs a series of questions as we turn our thoughts back to the eighteenth century: How did early Americans think about the marketplace and the economy? How did they believe that were supposed to function? How were the butcher, the baker, the candle stick maker, and their aristocratic overlords supposed to relate to one another in the marketplace? And how did early settlers map older European ideas about the economy and the public good onto the North American landscape.

On today’s episode, Dr. Emma Hart joins Jim Ambuske to chat about how we might ask and answer these questions. Hart is the author of the new book, Trading Spaces: The Colonial Marketplace and the Foundations of American Capitalism, which was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2019.

She is currently Senior Lecturer in History at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, but she will soon begin her tenure as Director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Hart helps us to understand how early Americans participated in the marketplace and the origins of our own capitalistic society. And we’ll get to hear a preview of what she has in mind for the McNeil Center.

About Our Guest: 

Emma Hart, Ph.D. is a historian of early America and the Atlantic world from 1500-1800.  She is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of St. Andrews and is the incoming Director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is interested in cities, economic life, and the everyday experiences of the people who lived in Britain's North American colonies and their independent successors. She is the author of two books, Building Charleston: Town and Society in the Eighteenth-Century British Atlantic World (2009) and Trading Spaces: The Colonial Marketplace and the Foundations of American Capitalism (2019). 

About Our Host:

Jim Ambuske, Ph.D. leads the Center for Digital History at the Washington Library. A historian of the American Revolution, Scotland, and the British Atlantic World, Ambuske graduated from the University of Virginia in 2016. He is a former Farmer Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Virginia Law Library. At UVA Law, Ambuske co-directed the 1828 Catalogue Project and the Scottish Court of Session Project.  He is currently at work on a book about emigration from Scotland in the era of the American Revolution as well as a chapter on Scottish loyalism during the American Revolution for a volume to be published by the University of Edinburgh Press.

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