This study aims to show the dynamics and characteristics of contemporary visions of wealth, status, and the common good before the consequences of the French and Industrial Revolutions became evident. It relates contemporary arguments and rhetoric to three themes, namely local and national visions of the common good, the relationship between the United Provinces and overseas territories in Asia, Africa, and the West Indies, and the moral economies that were expressed by contemporaries. For this purpose, it shows how contemporary debates about wealth and status were embedded in different contexts, like stagnation in Holland and Zeeland, the growth of plantation economies in the West Indies, and most importantly, a federal model of political decision making. During the eighteenth century the United Provinces retained their overlapping jurisdiction which consisted of provinces, cities, the stadtholderate, trading companies, and the States General.
As a result of this polycentric structure, contemporaries related wealth to local and national frameworks for a variety of purposes, including the aim of protecting privileges or contesting particularist visions by articulating a national idea of the common good. In these debates, commentators often used similar ideas and expressions to articulate different, often conflicting arguments and interests. At the same time, debates on wealth were connected to social status, which resulted in elaborate discussions about the behaviour of specific individuals and groups. Contemporaries aimed to regulate the behaviour of various groups and individuals, like untrustworthy bankers, Jewish brokers, and the enslaved population of the Dutch overseas territories. The conflicts between local and national views of the common good and the ambiguities relating to perceptions of wealth and status form the subject of this thesis.
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