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BeyondPatriot Politics: Causes,Context and Consequences of theCollapse of the First British Empire JanWillem Schulte Nordholt. TheDutch Republic and American Independence. Translatedby Herbert H. Rowen. Chapel Hill: Universityof North Carolina Press, 1982.351 + xii pp. Jamee Potter. The Liberty We Seek: Lol'alist Ideology in Colonial New York a,;d Massachusetts. Cambridge, Mass.: HarvardUniversity Press, 1983.238 + x pp. RobertW.Tucker and David C. Hendrickson. TheFallof the First British Empire: Ortginsof the War of American Independence. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982. 450+viiipp. Lawrence Delbert Cress These books, though fundamentally different in focus, share a common perspective.They look at the American Revolution from the outside. Robert W.Tucker and David C. Hendrickson analyze the coming of the war between Englandand her colonies within the political, institutional and constitutional structure of the First British Empire. Janice Potter probes the positions espousedby Loyalists in the key colonies of New York and Massachusetts as Patriotsgained control of the political apparatus that sustained the drive for independence. Jan Willem Schulte Nordholt examines the American Revolution's impact on Dutch domestic and foreign affairs during the last quarterof the eighteenth century. Each book examines important ifnot new questionsabout the implications and significance of the American Revolution. Robert Tucker and his student, David Hendrickson, are political scientists concerned with the dynamics of imperial change. Their book tackles the fundamental question of eighteenth-century Anglo-American history: why did the British Empire, which reached its zenith with the removal of the French from North America in 1763, crumble in scarcely more than a decade?Contemporaries blamed the Empire's collapse on ill-advised imperial reforms adopted during the 1760s and early 1770s. Benjamin Franklin, for example,contended that little more than a thread tied the contented colonies tothe Empire before 1763. Historians of the eighteenth century, including JackGreene and Edmund Morgan, also have attributed American indepenCanadian Review of American Studies, Volume 16, Number 3, Fall 1985, 307-316 308 Lawrence Delbert Cress dence to imperial ineptitude. Relations within the Empire soured, they argue, only after Parliament introduced reforms, beginning with the Grenville program of 1764 and 1765, that altered the constitutional structure ofthe Empire. Why did British policy change after a half century of '"salutary neglect"? Most historians credit English colonial officials with adoptinga new approach toward empire in response to the military and administrative burdens that came with the acquisition of French Canada. In short, the First British Empire collapsed, the standard interpretation argues, because changes took place at its center, in Parliament and in Whitehall. Tucker and Hendrickson turn that idea on its head. Using as a model the work of historians concerned with late-nineteenth-century imperialism, they argue that "the expansion and collapse of the First British Empire wasthe consequence of a series of profound upheavals and challenges on the peripherv and not the emergence of a new attitude toward empire in the metropoli~' (p. 6). Their interpretation is intriguing and provocative. Historians of the British Empire and the American Revolution will want to give it careful consideration. Tucker and Hendrickson begin their study, as have many historians before them, with an analysis of the British Empire at the close of the Seven Years War. The Bute ministry negotiated an end to the war with France, the authors contend, amidst a growing consensus that the North American colonies held the key to the Empire's future wealth and security. The colonies had become the principal market for British commerce and industry. They also occupied a central place in the blueprint for imperial security. The nation that controlled the Atlantic seaboard of North America held the balance of power in the north Atlantic. Moreover, a dominant military position in North America assured Britain the ability to protect its important Caribbean sugar islands from a renewed Bourbon assault. Hence the Bute ministry pressed in 1763 for the removal of France from Canada. It also moved to cut ties with Prussia-ties that threatened to divert the Empire's resources away from North America and onto the Continent. In sum, Great Britain entered the post-war period with an eye firmly fixed on the western horizon. "Everything," the authors suggest, "could easily be...


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