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Abstract

To what extent should consumption reflect local and national interests? Joanna Cohen has written an excellent book at the intersection of intellectual, economic, and cultural history about how this question was asked and understood in the period extending from the American War for Independence to the post-bellum era. She demonstrates how citizens in the early republic struggled to understand the consumer’s place in the constellation of America’s national interest, asking questions such as, “’Who [should have] access to foreign goods?’ and “Who should shop and how[?]” (52). Although the Constitution roughly framed the relationship between the American government and consumers, it did not codify what it meant to be a consumer, leaving the American citizen-consumer subject to debate and the throes of a changing political economy. So, what did it mean to be a citizen-consumer [Excerpt]

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