Business in the Borderlands: American Trade in the South African Marketplace, 1871–1902
This chapter argues that the American diaspora anchored the USA’s commercial relationship with Southern Africa between 1871 and 1902. The American diaspora imagined a ‘new west’ in South Africa and worked alongside US consuls to shape economic behaviour by directing American goods to the region’s growing cities and booming mines. Central to this process was information on market prices and opportunities supplied by American consuls. As a result of their efforts, the USA became the Cape Colony’s largest trading partner after Great Britain. Closer attention to US–Southern African trade reveals that the USA dominated trade only in select sectors and that US consuls struggled to understand the complex global commodity chains American goods passed along before they reached Southern African markets.