This two-way relationship reinforced the colonial feeling of commonality with British culture.
As the incomes of Americans rose and the prices of these commodities fell, these items shifted from luxuries to common goods.
The average person’s ability to spend money on consumer goods became a sign of their respectability.
Paper money tended to lose value quicker than coins and was often counterfeited.
These problems, as well as British merchants’ reluctance to accept depreciated paper notes, caused the Board of Trade to restrict the uses of paper money in the Currency Acts of 17.
But the ways in which colonists paid for these goods varied sharply from those in Britain.
When settlers first arrived in North America, they typically carried very little hard or metallic British money with them.In Virginia, for example, the colonial legislature stipulated a rate of exchange for tobacco, standardizing it as a form of money in the colony.Commodities could be cumbersome and difficult to transport, so a system of notes developed.Cheap consumption allowed middle-class Americans to match many of the trends in clothing, food, and household décor that traditionally marked the wealthiest, aristocratic classes.Provincial Americans, often seen by their London peers as less cultivated or “backwater,” could present themselves as lords and ladies of their own communities by purchasing and displaying British-made goods.Paper money was not the only medium of exchange, however. Barter and the extension of credit—which could take the form of bills of exchange, akin to modern-day personal checks—remained important forces throughout the colonial period.Still, trade between colonies was greatly hampered by the lack of standardized money.These notes allowed individuals to deposit a certain amount of tobacco in a warehouse and receive a note bearing the value of the deposit that could be traded as money.In 1690, colonial Massachusetts became the first place in the Western world to issue paper bills to be used as money.In fact, they were considerably less important to the Crown than the sugar-producing islands of the Caribbean, including Jamaica, Barbados, the Leeward Islands, Grenada, St. These British colonies were also inextricably connected to the continental colonies.Caribbean plantations dedicated nearly all of their land to the wildly profitable crop of sugarcane, so North American colonies sold surplus food and raw materials to these wealthy island colonies.