Providing a case study centered on George Frederic, the king of the Miskitu between 1816 and 1824, this paper reveals how particular Indigenous actors sought to finance the concrete realization of commercial and political independence projects through the London-based international capital market. Descended from a long line of native rulers, George Frederic’s role was traditionally that of a cultural intermediary between inhabitants of the Miskitu Shore and foreign traders. Processes of American decolonization, however, provided him with an opportunity to create an independent sovereign nation. Short of capital and political expertise, George Frederic sought to outsource the development of his territory to foreign agents with experience in state-building and financing. Those would, in the name of the king, try to access European capital markets. Moving away from a Eurocentric historiography analyzing the early dynamics of financial and commercial globalization, concentrating on this marginal actor reveals how the consolidation of international financial centers was shaped by often overlooked distant social and political dynamics. This paper also helps resituate the global financial influence particular American Indigenous groups had in a politically and commercially reshaped Atlantic world.
Damian Clavel is the 2020-21 EHS Anniversary Fellow, Institute of Historical Research / University of Oxford. He is also Managing Editor, Capitalism: A Journal of History and Economics.
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