Empire or Independence, 1760-1776: A British-American Dialogue on the Coming of the American Revolution

Empire or Independence, 1760-1776: A British-American Dialogue on the Coming of the American Revolution

Empire or Independence, 1760-1776: A British-American Dialogue on the Coming of the American Revolution

Empire or Independence, 1760-1776: A British-American Dialogue on the Coming of the American Revolution

Excerpt

When the project of a joint book on the American Revolution by an American and a British scholar was first suggested to us by Mr. John Calmann of Phaidon Press, it appeared to offer certain distinctive attractions. This lay not only in a welcome division of labour in the survey of a vast subject, the secondary literature on which snowballs from year to year. In particular, by allowing the authors to concentrate on their respective national sides of the great controversy that rent asunder the first British Empire, it presented an opportunity for a balanced juxtaposition of analyses of the attitudes of the British governments which made policy on the one hand, and on the other of the attitudes of the colonists who found the activities of these governments unacceptable. In this antiphonal account we hope that we may have succeeded in bringing into sharper relief the conflicting points of view and intractable circumstances which underlay the Anglo-American quarrel leading up to the Declaration of Independence, while at the same time providing an outline of the story which both casts some light on the influence of individuals and gives equal weight to the considerations operating on the minds of men on both sides of the Atlantic. We have been able to present at least some new suggestions regarding the motivation which lay behind policy and action. We are conscious that this interlocking survey of action and reaction leaves the loyalists with only a small role to play in these pages. This in itself reflects the fact that the numerous successive crucial decisions which led to Independence were made not by them but by British ministers on the one hand and American patriots on the other.

The two authors did not meet until after the completion of the text, but we did have the advantage of modern communications. Letters and drafts of chapters crossed the Atlantic and were delivered in less than a week. A single telephone call settled several questions within minutes. And when the text was finished, a brief tran-

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