James R. Fichter is the author of Tea: Consumption, Politics, and Revolution, 1773-1776 (Cornell, 2023), which reveals the hidden history of the so-called Boston Tea Party. Tea reveals that two large shipments of East India Company tea survived and were drunk in North America. Patriot propagandists downplayed this so successfully that we have overlooked the survival of these shipments for the last 250 years. The continuing risk these shipments would be sold shaped colonial politics as much as the actual destruction of the other cargoes. Tea brings in new locations and events into the revolutionary story and reinterprets old ones. It challenges the prevailing scholarly wisdom about the tea protests and consumer boycotts in 1774 and 1775, arguing these were not the seeds of American national consciousness we have assumed. By systematically examining new commercial evidence—advertising, prices, and merchant ledgers and correspondence—Tea reveals the economic reality behind political rhetoric: colonists did not turn away from tea as they became revolutionary Americans. They embraced it.
Fichter is also the author of So Great a Proffit: How the East Indies Transformed Anglo-American Capitalism (Harvard, 2010) and editor of British and French Colonialism in Africa, Asia and the Middle East: Connected Empires across the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Centuries (Palgrave, Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies, 2019), as well as author of various articles. His next monograph, Suez Passage to India: Britain, France, and the Great Game at Sea, 1798-1885, examines the interconnections between the British and French Empires in Asian waters, from Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798 to the Sino-French War in 1885.
He teaches courses on maritime history, the revolutionary Atlantic, and World War I.
Applicants interested in studying an MPhil or PhD should develop a proposal in consultation with him prior to application.
He formerly taught at Lingnan University and was born and raised in Connecticut.
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Region and Language
International, economic, imperial, maritime and environmental history in the eighteen and nineteenth centuries