New Book | Trading Freedom

Posted in books by Editor on May 17, 2022

From The University of Chicago Press:

Dael Norwood, Trading Freedom: How Trade with China Defined Early America (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2022), 312 pages, ISBN: 978-0226815589, $45.

Trading Freedom explores the surprisingly rich early history of US-China trade and its unexpected impact on the developing republic.

The economic and geographic development of the early United States is usually thought of in trans-Atlantic terms, defined by entanglements with Europe and Africa. In Trading Freedom, Dael A. Norwood recasts these common conceptions by looking to Asia, making clear that from its earliest days, the United States has been closely intertwined with China—monetarily, politically, and psychologically. Norwood details US trade with China from the late eighteenth through the late nineteenth centuries—a critical period in America’s self-definition as a capitalist nation—and shows how global commerce was central to the articulation of that national identity. Trading Freedom illuminates how debates over political economy and trade policy, the building of the transcontinental railroad, and the looming sectional struggle over slavery were all influenced by Sino-American relations. Deftly weaving together interdisciplinary threads from the worlds of commerce, foreign policy, and immigration, Trading Freedom thoroughly dismantles the idea that American engagement with China is anything new. Publication supported by the Bevington Fund.

Dael A. Norwood is assistant professor of history at the University of Delaware.


Introduction: America’s Business with China
1  Founding a Free, Trading Republic
2  The Paradox of a Pacific Policy
3  Troubled Waters
4  Sovereign Rights, or America’s First Opium Problem
5  The Empire’s New Roads
6  This Slave Trade of the Nineteenth Century
7  A Propped-Open Door
8  Death of a Trade, Birth of a Market

Appendix: Accounting for the China Trade

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