Dael Norwood offers an engaging account of how Sino-American intercourse shaped the political economy of the United States in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Norwood situates the China Trade—by the late 1870s, the “China Market” (p. 157)—within a developing American national identity that trumpeted the United States’s centrality to systems of capitalism and global commerce. Through a series of vignettes highlighting crucial figures, legislation, and debates related to Sino-American trade, Norwood charts the rise and decline of U.S. commerce with the Qing Empire and its lasting impact on how Americans conceived of their nation’s place within the world economy.

Trading Freedom is foremost a history of the United States, and therein lie its strengths. Norwood brings a metropolitan perspective to debates that have captured the attention of China trade historians for years. Discussions linking the opium trade to American ideas of sovereignty (pp. 78–92), or debates connecting the trade...

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