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Creating the British Atlantic

Essays on Transplantation, Adaptation, and Continuity

Jack P. Greene

Publication Year: 2013

Set mostly within an expansive British imperial and transatlantic framework, this new selection of writings from the renowned historian Jack P. Greene draws on themes he has been developing throughout his distinguished career. In these essays Greene explores the efforts to impose Old World institutions, identities, and values upon the New World societies being created during the colonization process. He shows how transplanted Old World components—political, legal, and social—were adapted to meet the demands of new, economically viable, expansive cultural hearths. Greene argues that these transplantations and adaptations were of fundamental importance in the formation and evolution of the new American republic and the society it represented.

The scope of this work allows Greene to consider in depth numerous subjects, including the dynamics of colonization, the development and character of provincial identities, the relationship between new settler societies in America and the emerging British Empire, and the role of cultural power in social and political formation.

Published by: University of Virginia Press

Series: Early American Histories

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-4


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xiv

This volume brings together a selection of nineteen of the articles, book chapters, and essays I have written during the fifteen years since the University of Virginia Press published four volumes of my essays under various titles between 1992 and 1996.1 Like those, this volume covers several interrelated subjects in the broad areas of early modern English/British America, the British Empire, and the early United States. ...

Part One: Perspectives

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One: Hemispheric History and Atlantic History

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pp. 3-18

Historians of the early modern Americas have always been open to the broader approach. Already by the closing decades of the nineteenth century, they had recognized and sought to subvert the tendency of emerging national histories to reduce the colonial past to little more than the prehistory of the independent nations that formed in the Americas after the mid-1770s. ...

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Two: Reformulating Englishness: Cultural Adaptation and Provinciality in the Construction of Corporate Identity in Colonial British America

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pp. 19-32

Few developments have had a greater impact on the social organization of the globe than the movement of peoples outward from Europe be ginning during the early modern era. At first moving west and south into the Americas and south and east into Africa and Asia, this expansion inaugurated a movement of peoples and cultures that during the nineteenth century ...

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Three: State Formation, Resistance, and the Creation of Revolutionary Traditions in the Early Modern Era

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pp. 33-63

The 1997 Sears Symposium, “Transatlantic Revolutionary Traditions 1688–1824,” at Purdue University seems to have been a response to two historiographical trends, an older and by now quite venerable, not to say antique, interest in revolutionary ideology and the newer and more trendy interest in the transatlantic context of historical developments around the Atlantic rim. ..

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Four: Colonial History and National History: Reflections on a Continuing Problem

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pp. 64-80

For more than a century, the relationship between colonial history and national history has been a problematic one for professional historians of both eras. Since at least the 1890s, colonial historians have been acutely aware that the old-fashioned nineteenth-century conception of American history as the history of the United States ...

Part Two: Governance

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Five: Transatlantic Colonization and the Redefinition of Empire in the Early Modern Era: The British-American Experience

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pp. 83-100

For more than a century past,” Adam Smith remarked in 1776 in the conclusion to An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, the “rulers of Great Britain have . . . amused the people with the imagination that they possessed a great empire on the west side of the Atlantic. ...

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Six: Traditions of Consensual Governance in the Construction of State Authority in the Early Modern European Empires in America

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pp. 101-112

In every thing except their foreign trade,” observed Adam Smith in 1776, dilating upon the causes of the rapid development of new colonial societies in the Wealth of Nations, “the liberty of the English colonists is complete. It is in every respect equal to that of their fellow-citizens at home, and is secured in the same manner, by an assembly of the representatives of the people.” ...

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Seven: Britain’s Overseas Empire before 1780: Overwhelmingly Successful and Bureaucratically Challenged

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pp. 113-139

As a result of the American War for Independence, the British overseas empire in 1783 lost just under half of the thirty-three Atlantic colonies it had held when war began in 1775. In addition to the thirteen that became the United States, East and West Florida were retroceded to Spain, and the French did not return Tobago, ...

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Eight: “Of Liberty and of the Colonies”: A Case Study of Constitutional Conflict in the Mid-Eighteenth-Century British American Empire

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pp. 140-207

The early modern English/British Empire in America was a negotiated empire. From the beginning, the weakness of coercive resources in the colonies forced London officials to build metropolitan authority upon settler-created structures of power. ...

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Nine: 1759: The Perils of Success

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pp. 208-225

The fits of patriotic ecstasy that reverberated throughout the British Empire following the British conquest of Quebec in 1759, and again after the favorable—for the British—conclusion of the Seven Years’ War in 1763, disguised from the celebrants the many underlying problems and residual tensions that would over the next few decades reduce the size and scope of the empire, ...

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Ten: An Empire of Freemen? The British Debate over the Status of Overseas Representative Assemblies, 1763–1783

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pp. 226-250

Many eighteenth-century Britons celebrated the representative institutions that settlers had devised in the early colonies and that had subsequently become a standard feature of British colonial governance as the central element that allegedly distinguished Britain’s free overseas empire from those that other nations established. ...

Part Three: Identities

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Eleven: Empire and Identity from the Elizabethan Era to the American Revolution

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pp. 253-277

How the development of a vast transoceanic empire during the early modern era affected the collective identity of the British people who dominated and defned that identity is the subject of this chapter. The earliest stages of English overseas expansion occurred during the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, ...

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Twelve: “By Their Laws Shall Ye Know Them”: Law and Identity in Colonial British America

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pp. 278-292

For the past quarter century, an expanding cadre of early American legal historians, abandoning the internalist approach of earlier legal historians for the sociolegal approach pioneered, for American nationa legal history, by J. Willard Hurst in the 1950s, has been producing a rich and sophisticated body of work on many aspects of colonial British American legal cultures.1 ...

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Thirteen: Liberty, Slavery, and the Transformation of British Identity in the Eighteenth-Century West Indies

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pp. 293-322

The earliest stages of English overseas expansion occurred during the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, the very era when English opinion leaders were elaborating an identity for the emerging English nation.1 Protestantism, social openness, intellectual and scientific achievement, and prosperity and trade were all important components of that identity, ...

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Fourteen: Alterity and the Production of Identity in the Early Modern British American Empire and the Early United States

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pp. 323-339

During a house of commons debate in November 1775 over what, in light of its army’s misadventures in Massachusetts the previous spring, Britain should do to deal with colonial resistance to parliamentary authority, William Innes, member of Parliament for Ilchester, spoke at length in favor of strong coercive measures. ...

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Fifteen: State Identities and National Identity in the Era of the American Revolution

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pp. 340-360

How a nation forged out of a composite of old polities develops a national identity and sense of loyalty among its citizens is an intricate and fascinating problem that deserves more attention than it has so far had in the new literature on the history of early modern and modern state formation. ...

Part Four: Social Construction

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Sixteen: Social and Cultural Capital in Colonization and State Building in the Early Modern Era: Colonial British America as a Case Study

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pp. 363-380

Social capital is a relatively new concept which political scientists and sociologists have developed to distinguish certain kinds of social resources from other kinds, namely financial or investment capital, physical capital in the form of fixed or moveable material resources, and human capital in the form of individual knowledge and technical skills. ...

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Seventeen: Pluribus or Unum? White Ethnicity in the Formation of Colonial American Culture

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pp. 381-400

The area that in 1776 became the United States was peopled by descendants of a combination of three groups: (1) the original aboriginal population who had long occupied the area when Europeans initiated a sustained encounter between the Old World and the New at the end of the fifteenth century, ...

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Eighteen: The Cultural Dimensions of Political Transfers: An Aspect of the European Occupation of the Americas

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pp. 401-425

Few developments have had a greater influence on the social organization of the globe than the movement of peoples outward from Europe beginning during the early modern era. In the early modern Americas, this development was manifest in the establishment of a large number of settler and trading societies, ...

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Nineteen: Early Modern Southeastern North America and the Broader Atlantic and American Worlds

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pp. 426-438

Historians of neither the indigenous inhabitants of the mainland of southeastern North America nor the colonies Europeans established there after 1560 have ever been comfortable working within the framework of the history of the South. The very idea of the South as a distinctive entity characterized by slavery, ...


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pp. 439-466

E-ISBN-13: 9780813933894
E-ISBN-10: 0813933897
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813933917
Print-ISBN-10: 0813933889

Page Count: 480
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Early American Histories

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Great Britain -- Colonies -- America -- History -- 18th century.
  • Great Britain -- Colonies -- America -- Administration.
  • United States -- History -- Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775.
  • United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783.
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