Some insights into a provincial British commercial network
This chapter addresses the question of the origins of Liverpool's involvement in the Asian trade during the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleonic Wars was a period of great turbulence and difficulty for the Liverpool commercial community, and the nature and growth of the trade during the period to 1850. The chapter explores the political ramifications for Liverpool of the eastern trade, offering new insights into the current historical debate about British imperialism and the 'gentlemanly capitalism' thesis put forward by Peter Cain and Antony Hopkins. The Glasgow East India Association (EIA) was absorbed into the city's Chamber of Commerce in 1848, and the Liverpool EIA seems to have met a similar fate a few years later. The London East India and China Association continued until the Great Indian Rebellion of 1857, which led to its demise along with the East India Company itself.
Liverpool occupies a prominent position in the contemporary popular imagination. In spite of decades of economic decline, urban decay and a name associated by some with poverty and crime, the city's reputation is by no means a negative one. The book is a collection of essays that focuses on the strength of Liverpool's merchant marine, representing both informal and formal empire over centuries. It discusses the interracial relationships in 1950s and 1960s Liverpool to demonstrate that many African and Afro-Caribbean sailors (and others) married or had relationships with white women. Given existing deficiencies in the historiographies of both Liverpool and the British Empire, the book aims to reassess both Liverpool's role within the British imperial system and the impact on the port city of its colonial connections. Liverpool's success has often been attributed to, and marred by, its being the leader in the slave trade after 1750. Napoleonic Wars were a period of great turbulence and difficulty for the Liverpool commercial community. Liverpool is perceived as a diasporic city, however, its ambiguous nineteenth-century identity reflected the tensions of its complex migrant connections. An analysis of Liverpool's business connections with South America reveals its relative commercial decline and the notion of 'gentlemanly capitalism'. The African ethnology collection of National Museums Liverpool's (NML) ethnology collections are displayed in the 'World Cultures' gallery of the World Museum Liverpool, which opened in 2005. Liverpool is perhaps not exceptional, though its networks are notable and striking.
Sheryllynne Haggerty, Anthony Webster, and Nicholas J. White
This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book focuses on the strength of Liverpool's merchant marine, representing both informal and formal empire over centuries. The numbers of non-white colonial immigrants in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Liverpool were relatively small. The book also focuses on interracial relationships in 1950s and 1960s Liverpool to demonstrate that many African and Afro-Caribbean sailors (and others) married or had relationships with white women. It provides a classic example of how Liverpool's long-standing colonial connections had a disturbing influence upon popular attitudes into and beyond the era of decolonisation. The city's international commercial relationships have been characterised as 'global' rather than imperial in nature, downplaying the intertwining of the interests of all its social groups with those of the empire.