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Among the Powers of the Earth

Among the Powers of the Earth: The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire

Eliga H. Gould
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 342
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  • Book Info
    Among the Powers of the Earth
    Book Description:

    The Revolution’s aspiration was summed up by the phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Yet the American founding was also a bid for inclusion in the community of nations. According to Eliga Gould, America aspired to diplomatic recognition under international law and the authority to become an Atlantic colonizing power itself.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06502-4
    Subjects: History, Law, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. [Maps]
    (pp. [ix]-[xviii])
  4. Introduction: A Nation among Nations
    (pp. 1-13)

    During the summer of 1776, as Congress took the final, momentous steps toward declaring independence, John Adams began work on a “plan of treaties” to guide the new union in its relations with other governments. From the standpoint of the European rulers to whom it was addressed, much of what Adams wrote would have sounded familiar. Working with Benjamin Franklin, soon to embark for the court of Louis XVI, Adams and the members of his committee directed Congress to offer foreign nations, starting with France, a commercial treaty while avoiding a military alliance. Toward that end, the Model Treaty, as...

  5. CHAPTER 1 On the Margins of Europe
    (pp. 14-47)

    On the morning of September 11, 1755, nearly three hundred British soldiers, most of them New England provincials under the command of Colonel John Winslow of Massachusetts, began loading groups of boys onto five ships anchored in Minas Basin, just south of the isthmus where Nova Scotia joins the North American mainland. The boys, some as young as ten, were part of a larger body of “French neutrals,” or Acadians, being held in the village’s Catholic churchyard. They and their families stood accused of abetting Britain’s enemies in its undeclared war with France.¹

    Winslow did not relish the terms of...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Law of Slavery
    (pp. 48-78)

    Four years after leaving her native Scotland, Lady Isabella Hamilton seemed unaltered by life in the West Indies. “Tho’ the lily has far got the better of the rose,” wrote her visiting friend and countrywoman Janet Schaw, “she is as beautiful as ever.” Noting that Lady Belle had lost none of her wit and vivacity, Schaw was pleased to see that her friend was popular with the other planters on Saint Kitts, and the successful law practice of her husband, William Leslie Hamilton, allowed her to lead a life of stunning opulence. “The elegance in which they live is not...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Pax Britannica
    (pp. 79-110)

    Paul Wentworth was said to be one of the cleverest men in England. A gifted linguist and shrewd diplomat, the Barbados native had been, by turns, a merchant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a planter on the Demerara River in Surinam, and a wealthy speculator and man of fashion in London. For all these reasons, he seemed like a natural choice to lead Britain’s last-ditch effort to dissuade Benjamin Franklin, Congress’s emissary in Paris, from concluding an alliance with France.¹ But even Wentworth was unprepared for what the famously urbane American had to say when the two met in early 1778....

  8. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  9. CHAPTER 4 Independence
    (pp. 111-144)

    By the time André Michaux arrived at Mansker’s Station, he must have realized that his mission to Kentucky and Tennessee had been a failure. Over the last three years, the renowned botanist and secret emissary for the French Republic had visited the leading men of both states, hoping to find allies for France’s war in Europe. In 1793, on the first of his two journeys, he had even approached George Rogers Clark, hero of the American Revolution, with the offer of a commission to seize Spanish Louisiana with an army of Kentucky adventurers. Ultimately, however, his efforts had been for...

  10. CHAPTER 5 A Slaveholding Republic
    (pp. 145-177)

    As he watched the Royal Navy’s sloop Abrina approach, Paul Cuffe must have known that there would be trouble. Although he had spent nearly a year in Britain and Africa, most recently as a guest of the London-based African Institution in Sierra Leone, Cuffe was master of the Westport, Massachusetts, brig Traveller, and Britain and the United States were about to become embroiled in the War of 1812. According to the account that Cuffe recorded in the ship’s log, the British commander, Captain James Tidwell, followed the navy’s standard procedure when stopping foreign ships. Convinced that Cuffe was engaged in...

  11. CHAPTER 6 The New World and the Old
    (pp. 178-209)

    When did the colonial era in American history end? The answer depends on where one stands. In some places—eastern Georgia, for example—it makes sense to think of 1776 as marking the beginning of the United States’ history as an independent nation. For the Indians of Apalachee Bay, however, Florida was still part of Spain’s empire when Milly Francis saved the life of Duncan McKrimmon, a Georgia militiaman whom warriors from her town captured during Andrew Jackson’s invasion in 1818. By all accounts, Milly, who was probably fifteen, possessed uncommon grace, beauty, and intelligence. Because her father was the...

  12. Epilogue: Mr. Monroe’s Peace
    (pp. 210-218)

    In many ways James Monroe, fifth president of the United States, would seem to be an unlikely symbol of national unity. Although he was the last president to play a leading role in the revolution—in Emanuel Leutze’s epic tableau, Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851), Monroe is the standard-bearer in Washington’s boat—the former senator, diplomat, and two-time Virginia governor was, by all accounts, a man of ordinary talents, “the third of the Virginia Dynasty,” as George Dangerfield once wrote, “in the order of intelligence no less than in that of succession.”¹ Yet Monroe had the good fortune to preside...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 221-284)
  14. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 285-288)
  15. Index
    (pp. 289-302)