Date Thesis Awarded

12-2016

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

History

Advisor

Julie Richter

Committee Member

Nathan Rabalais

Committee Member

Nicholas Popper

Abstract

This undergraduate honors thesis analyzes the development of a distinct material culture in eighteenth-century Williamsburg, Virginia, arguing that the city remained a cultural and economic center after the capital moved to Richmond by retaining this material culture. It includes a case study of the textile trades and the tradesmen and women who produced and consumed a significant number of material goods throughout the century, providing cohesive examples of the fluidity of Williamsburg’s consumer and material cultures in the Revolution and the capital’s move to Richmond. In Williamsburg, an economic standard of choice formed through the consumer marketplace, which developed in the shift to a social-based dining, retail, and entertainment culture between the 1730s and 1750s. In the 1760s and 1770s, it morphed to reflect changing attitudes about the British government and then the Revolution itself, adopting a wartime economic outlook. As the American Revolution ended and the Virginian capital moved to Richmond in the early 1780s, this material culture changed once more to echo the socio-economic and cultural implications of a post-war city in which Virginia’s political power no longer resided, but it did not disappear. Although the existing historiography on eighteenth-century Williamsburg suggests that the city lost its material cultural influence when Virginia’s capital moved to Richmond, its material culture simply underwent evolutionary changes in order to reflect the various social, economic, and political pressures in post-revolutionary Williamsburg.

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