Indians and Colonists at the Crossroads of Empire: The Albany Congress of 1754

By Timothy J. Shannon | Go to book overview

[2]
An Imperial Path to Albany: The British Empire and Britannia's Americans

This Modelling [of] the People into various Orders, and Subordinations of Orders, so as to be capable of receiving and communicating any political Motion, and acting under that Direction as a one Whole, is what the Romans called by the peculiar Word Imperium, to express which particular Group of Ideas, we have no Word in English but by adopting the Word Empire. 'Tis by this System only that a People become a political Body; 'tis the Chain, the Bond of Union, by which very vague and independent Particles cohere.

-- Thomas Pownall, 1752

I would not thereby be thought to create a Jealousy that the Inhabitants of our Colonies in this Age, are in any ways disposed to throw off their Dependency . . . and so insinuate that they ought to be kept under and governed on Principles of Government more strict and severe than what other Subjects of this Nation are. But, without any such insinuation or false alarm . . . whoever considers seriously must reflect and allow that although they are Subjects, yet they are Subjects under peculiar Circumstances, formed into Separate Societys that in time may feel their new Strength . . . this difference is a very material one, whether they are [to] remain Subjects, or to become Confederates.

-- James Abercromby, 1752

In October 1753 New York's new royal governor, Sir Danvers Osborne, arrived in the colony, accompanied by his secretary Thomas Pownall. Pownall had most recently worked along with his brother John as a clerk for the Board of Trade, the Crown's advisory council on colonial policy. Thomas was able to secure his appointment to Osborne through his connections there. Young and ambitious, he hoped his sojourn in America would gain him the expertise and patronage necessary for a more pres

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