Immigrants from other European nations meanwhile combined with Native Americans and enslaved Africans to create an increasingly diverse colonial population.All—men and women, European, Native American, and African—led distinct lives and wrought new distinct societies.While life in the thirteen colonies was shaped in part by English practices and participation in the larger Atlantic World, emerging cultural patterns increasingly transformed North America into something wholly different.Transatlantic trade greatly enriched Britain, but it also created high standards of living for many North American colonists.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.Discovering no precious metals (and lacking the Crown’s authority to mint coins), colonists relied on barter and nontraditional forms of exchange, including everything from nails to the wampum used by Native American groups in the Northeast.
To compensate for a lack of lumber, Barbadian colonists ordered house frames from New England.
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.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, improvements in manufacturing, transportation, and the availability of credit increased the opportunity for colonists to purchase consumer goods.
Instead of making their own tools, clothes, and utensils, colonists increasingly purchased luxury items made by specialized artisans and manufacturers.