The exhibition “Georgians Revealed,” based on the extensive collection (150 million items) of books, prints, drawings, maps, documents, and printed ephemera in the British Library, celebrates the years 1714–1830 when Britain became the world’s first modern commercial society. In 1714, Britain was a small, under-populated, and unimportant island at the furthest edge of Europe, but by 1830 it dominated the trade of the entire globe. That it had four constitutional monarchs named George during this era merely gives the period its name, for the Georges’ only important contribution was to refrain from ruling too much and to allow their subjects to create a flourishing capitalist economy, one little constrained by government meddling. Economic historians of the period emphasize the major transformations of agriculture, manufacturing, and transport by road and canal in Britain, but in this exhibition the emphasis...

 

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