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Revolutions in the Atlantic World

Revolutions in the Atlantic World: A Comparative History

Wim Klooster
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 247
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  • Book Info
    Revolutions in the Atlantic World
    Book Description:

    In the late eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, revolutions transformed the British, French, and Spanish Atlantic worlds. During this time, colonial and indigenous people rioted and rebelled against their occupiers in violent pursuit of political liberty and economic opportunity, challenging time-honored social and political structures on both sides of the Atlantic. As a result, mainland America separated from British and Spanish rule, the French monarchy toppled, and the world's wealthiest colony was emancipated. In the new sovereign states, legal equality was introduced, republicanism embraced, and the people began to question the legitimacy of slavery.Revolutions in the Atlantic World wields a comparative lens to reveal several central themes in the field of Atlantic history, from the concept of European empire and the murky position it occupied between the Old and New Worlds to slavery and diasporas. How was the stability of the old regimes undermined? Which mechanisms of successful popular mobilization can be observed? What roles did blacks and Indians play? Drawing on both primary documents and extant secondary literature to answer these questions, Wim Klooster portrays the revolutions as parallel and connected uprisings.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-4909-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Introduction: Empires at War
    (pp. 1-10)

    On November 1, 1755, a powerful earthquake, followed by three tsunamis, largely destroyed Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city. With the faithful gathered for religious services or en route, three shocks struck, reducing churches and monasteries to rubble and leveling palaces and humble dwellings alike. The tsunamis made quick work of the ships, shipyards, quays, and warehouses. Where the water did not arrive, fires broke out that lasted for several days.¹ One in three residents died in Lisbon alone, many thousands more perishing in other parts of Portugal and in Spain and Morocco. The tremor would have a lasting impact on western...

  5. 2 Civil War in the British Empire: The American Revolution
    (pp. 11-44)

    In the eighteenth century, continental British America was in a state of constant demographic flux. Free and indentured immigrants arrived from Germany and the British isles, enslaved blacks from the Caribbean and Africa. Africans were brought against their will to spend their days in servitude. Whites were lured by the freedom to worship, to settle and work the land for themselves, and to elect and reject those in political office. Their continual immigration pushed the frontier (zones of intensive interaction) with Indians ever farther to the west, setting off numerous migrations among native groups.

    Indians and whites had been neighbors...

  6. 3 The War on Privilege and Dissension: The French Revolution
    (pp. 45-83)

    Colonial uprisings such as the American Revolution can, as I have stressed, only be understood in an international context. But the same is true of the various revolts that rocked Europe during that period. A war with Great Britain set the stage for the rise of the Patriot revolt in the Dutch Republic in the 1780s. Likewise, international warfare precipitated the revolution in France, Europe’s most populous country, with 26 million men, women, and children. Her almost uninterrupted warfare in the eighteenth century came at a high price, not only economically but financially. The main problem of public finance in...

  7. 4 From Prize Colony to Black Independence: Revolution in Haiti
    (pp. 84-116)

    When Frenchmen referred to Saint-Domingue in the 1780s as the wealthiest colony in the world, they did not exaggerate. The value of the crops transported to Europe exceeded that of all merchandise reaching Spain from her colonies. Forty percent of all the sugar cultivated worldwide and half of all the coffee was grown in the western third of the island of Hispaniola. Founded by buccaneers in the middle of the seventeenth century and formally incorporated into the French Empire in 1697, Saint-Domingue was divided into three parts. By 1789, the north was most intensively cultivated, numbering 2,009 coffee, 443 indigo,...

  8. 5 Multiple Routes to Sovereignty: The Spanish America Revolutions
    (pp. 117-157)

    The empire that Spain created in the Americas was in its time unrivaled in size, population, and resources. Governing such an empire was a formidable task, which required the adoption of a vast array of laws, offices, agencies, and correspondences. The Spanish Empire was not ruled by an emperor, but a king, whose territories in the Old World and the New made up the so-called Spanish monarchy. In ruling the American colonies, the king was assisted by the Council of the Indies. No king ever traveled across the Atlantic to behold the western lands with his own eyes. Instead, viceroys...

  9. 6 The Revolutions Compared: Causes, Patterns, Legacies
    (pp. 158-174)

    Seismic waves traveled through the Atlantic world in the halfcentury after 1775, linking uprisings on either side of the Atlantic. Divergent as they were, each was a revolution in its own right. This chapter compares the revolutions by trying to establish the main similarities and differences. Their chief common features can be summarized as follows.

    1.The revolutions must be understood, first of all, in the context of international politics.The costs of the Seven Years’ War led to a dramatic increase of taxation in British North America, and, combined with the War of American Independence, induced the French king to...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 175-226)
  11. Index
    (pp. 227-238)
  12. About the Author
    (pp. 239-239)