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1 . ‘‘In the Nature of Ambassadors’’ North American Diplomacy within the British Empire Now, if you were to pick out half a Dozen Men of good Understanding and Address, and furnish them with a reasonable Scheme and proper Instructions, and send them in the Nature of Ambassadors to the other Colonies, . . . I imagine such a Union might thereby be made and established; For reasonable sensible Men, can always make a reasonable Scheme appear such to other reasonable Men, if they take Pains, and have Time and Opportunity for it; unless from some Circumstances their Honesty and good Intentions are suspected. —Benjamin Franklin, 1751 In 1748, diplomats of the kingdoms of Great Britain and France negotiated the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, leading the various European powers into ending the eight-year-long War of Austrian Succession. But in many quarters of the world touched by European power, there was little of the joy that usually comes with peace. In the British North American province of New York, the war’s end only served to fill the colony’s leading men with anxiety. Agents of the king of France remained firmly planted in Quebec, their alliances with the American Indian communities of the Great Lakes region as strong as ever. Some feared that if relations between New York and its American Indian neighbors continued the erosion that had been ongoing in the 1740s, the French would pounce on the situation, fatally compromising the frontiers of northern British America.∞ Among the most sober-minded of New Yorkers feeling these postwar anxieties was the port of New York’s Crown-appointed collector of customs, Archibald Kennedy. 32 Revolutionary Negotiations Having emigrated from Scotland to New York in 1710, Kennedy had served as the province’s customs collector and receiver-general since the early 1720s. Like most provincial Britons, Kennedy reasoned that the peace of 1748 had truly resolved little. Given the manner in which European sovereigns made war and peace in the eighteenth century, it was logical to expect war between Great Britain and France would come again soon.≤ Kennedy wanted to protect his colony’s interests in the looming interimperial conflict, and he o√ered a program for doing so in a series of essays he wrote and had published in the early 1750s. With his intimate knowledge of New York’s commerce, Kennedy understood intuitively that New York, as a commercial entrepôt, had interests that simultaneously extended in a multitude of directions. The city’s commercial connections spread outward across the Atlantic to metropolitan markets and creditors, extended laterally with the nearby farming communities both within New York and in neighboring colonies, and moved into the interior via the Hudson River to European agricultural producers and the American Indian communities of Iroquoia. Beyond the realm of commerce, New York was also an important link in the emerging urban-centered, colonial public sphere. Cognizant of all of this, Kennedy imagined that the solution to New York’s potential troubles was to organize and order all of these interand extracolonial relationships. In the five essays he published between 1750 and 1756, Kennedy proposed a military union of the colonies, which would include Indian nations, as well as a rationalization of the constitutional and legislative structures that regulated trade between the colonials and the metropolis. Taken together, his essays elaborated a sophisticated vision of an intercolonial union that could safeguard the interests of the majority of the colonies of British North America.≥ Kennedy hoped to simultaneously rationalize the structures of the imperial union and the borderlands diplomatic regime. He thus saw New York’s American Indian neighbors as an important part of his project to rationalize the structure of the British Empire in North America. It was in The Importance of Gaining and Preserving the Friendship of the Indians to the British Interest, Considered, published in 1751, that Kennedy most directly linked Indian relations, colonial security, imperial governance, and commercial prosperity. He argued that the commerce with the Indian nations enriched both Native Americans and Anglo-Americans. These commercial ties also served to cement political ties, which were eminently useful should the inevitable recurrence of interimperial warfare come to pass. Here Ken- ‘‘In the Nature of Ambassadors’’ 33 nedy proposed the creation of an intercolonial union to organize a common defense, through a mutually supported requisition of troops and construction and garrisoning of forts. On the northern frontier, this defensive network should include the Iroquois towns (known to British colonists like Kennedy...


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