Synopses & Reviews
The American Revolution was the longest colonial war in modern British history and Britain's most humiliating defeat as an imperial power. In this lively, concise book, Eliga Gould examines an important yet surprisingly understudied aspect of the conflict: the British public's predominantly loyal response to its government's actions in North America.
Gould attributes British support for George III's American policies to a combination of factors, including growing isolationism in regard to the European continent and a burgeoning sense of the colonies as integral parts of a greater British nation. Most important, he argues, the British public accepted such ill-conceived projects as the Stamp Act because theirs was a sedentary, "armchair" patriotism based on paying others to fight their battles for them. This system of military finance made Parliament's attempt to tax the American colonists look unexceptional to most Britons and left the metropolitan public free to embrace imperial projects of all sortsincluding those that ultimately drove the colonists to rebel.
Drawing on nearly one thousand political pamphlets as well as on broadsides, private memoirs, and popular cartoons, Gould offers revealing insights into eighteenth-century British political culture and a refreshing account of what the Revolution meant to people on both sides of the Atlantic.
Examines the British public's predominantly loyal response to its government's handling of the American Revolution. Their support came from a burgeoning desire to be free of entangling alliances in Europe, a trans-Atlantic sense of national unity, and the "armchair" patriotism that was based on paying others to fight their battles for them.
[A] nicely written and articulate study.
Historian A well-researched, closely argued account of the impact of the American Revolution on British political culture.
International History Review Gould has made a substantial contribution not only to imperial and Atlantic histories but also to the study of Britishness.
Journal of American History An impressively well-documented analysis of the empire from an English perspective.
William and Mary Quarterly This is a thought-provoking book, its argument consistently developed in sophisticated and engaging terms and presented with lucidity and grace.
Reviews in American History
Includes bibliographical references (p. -251) and index.
Table of Contents
List of Maps and Illustrations
1. An Empire of Liberty: Whig Identity in the Reign of George II
(i) Maintaining the Balance of Power
(ii) A Matchless Constitution
(iii) The Liberties of Britain and Europe
2. The Blue Water Vision: British Imperialism and the Seven Years' War
(i) The Sepulchre of British Interest
(ii) Oceans, Indians, and Colonists
(iii) The Legacy of William Pitt
3. Patriotism Established: The Creation of a "National Militia" in England
(i) The Power of Popularity
(ii) The Militia Riots of 1757
(iii) The Price of Victory
4. The Nation Abroad: The Atlantic Debate over Colonial Taxation
(i) The Origins of the Stamp Act (1765)
(ii) An American Theory of Empire
(iii) The Plunge of Lemmings
5. The Revolution in British Patriotism: The Friends of Government
(i) Ambivalent Patriots
(ii) The County Associations (1780)
(iii) A People above Reproach
6. The Experience of Defeat: The British Legacy of the American Revolution
(i) A British Civil War
(ii) "The Isle of Liberty and Peace"
(iii) A Multiracial Empire
Maps and Illustrations
Figure 1. Apothecaries, Taylors, Etc. Conquering France and Spain
Figure 2. An Englishman's Delight
Figure 3. The British Empire in 1775
Figure 4. George II at Dettingen
Figure 5. Northern and Western Europe, 1740
Figure 6. Briton's Association against the Pope's Bulls
Figure 7. The British Jubilee
Figure 8. The Kentish Out-Laws
Figure 9. The H----v----n Confectioner General
Figure 10. Power of Britain by Land; Power of Britain by Sea
Figure 11. The Congress of the Brutes
Figure 12. The Contrast
Figure 13. The English Lion Dismember'd
Figure 14. A Militia Meeting
Figure 15. Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
Figure 16. British North America, 1763
Figure 17. The Indians Delivering up the English Captives
Figure 18. Virtual Representation
Figure 19. Mr. Pitt Scorns to Invade the Liberties of Other People
Figure 20. The Parricide: A Sketch of Modern Patriotism
Figure 21. A Visit to the Camp
Figure 22. The Three Graces of Cox-Heath
Figure 23. Association Meeting at York
Figure 24. No Popery; or, Newgate Reformer
Figure 25. Volunteers at Dublin
Figure 26. The Bostonian's Paying the Excise-Man
Figure 27. The Congress; or, The Necessary Politicians
Figure 28. The Commissioners
Figure 29. The Sinking Fund
Figure 30. The American Rattle Snake
Figure 31. Confucius the Second; or, A New Sun Rising in the Asiatic World!