- Independence and Interdependence: The American Revolution and the Problem of Postcolonial Nationhood, circa 1802
- The William and Mary Quarterly
- Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
- Volume 74, Number 4, October 2017, 3rd series
- pp. 729-752
- View Citation
- Additional Information
What did it mean to be a postcolonial nation in the age of the American Revolution? What does the answer tell us about the new world that the revolution helped to create? To find out, this article turns to the brief, spectacular history of the State of Muskogee, an ersatz Indian nation founded on the Gulf Coast by the white adventurer William Augustus Bowles. Boasting its own army and navy, its own flag and vice admiralty court, and its own newspaper and plans for a university, Muskogee showed that the nation-making impulse was not unique to the colonists who declared independence in 1776 but was embraced by Indians, African Americans, and white dissidents and renegades. In its effort to be recognized as "a free and independent" republic, however, Muskogee is a reminder that postcolonial independence was an interdependent condition that required the consent of Britain and the Western Hemisphere's other imperial powers, including, by the time of Muskogee's collapse in 1802, the United States. For colonial peoples everywhere, independent nationhood was both the surest path to liberation and a road fraught with potential for new forms of subordination.