I've just read Chernow's Hamilton biography and in it, he covers the fact that many imports still came in from Europe - even porcelain. They highlight the fact that the ordering of porcelain took many weeks longer to arrive in the United States than other cargo from Europe. I'm wondering if it's because the English ordered from China and controlled supplies to America?
That's absolutely true. America was incredibly reliant on Britain for manufactured goods, and throughout the 18th and 19th century they were our biggest trading partner. Prior to the revolution, Chinese imports to America were mediated by British traders. But also, England was a major manufacturer of ceramics themselves. If you are on the fifth floor, we have some really early and rare examples of American porcelain dating to the colonial period! Only a few pieces of these exist in the world. Unfortunately, fledgling American companies struggled to compete with the influx of English and Chinese ceramics.