United States Expansionism and British North America, 1775-1871

United States Expansionism and British North America, 1775-1871

United States Expansionism and British North America, 1775-1871

United States Expansionism and British North America, 1775-1871

Synopsis

Stuart, professor of history at the Univ. of Prince Edward Island, is author of two other books on American foreign relatins. Written from a Canadian point of view, but objective and interesting especially related to today's free-trade discussions. Extensive notes and bibliography. Annotation(c) 2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Excerpt

The United States and the colonies that would become Canada emerged with separate political identities in 1783. the recently acquired French colonies suddenly became British bases that could be used against the Americans instead of in their defense. After 1783, the Americans looked north to British North America, a string of provinces stretching from Nova Scotia through New Brunswick to Lower Canada and after the Constitutional Act of 1791, Upper Canada. Down to Confederation in 1867 and beyond, Americans increasingly dealt with these provincials in many spheres.

Research into the question of how Americans reacted to provincial developments in light of their own expansionism reveals a cluster of themes. First, an American-provincial borderland emerged after 1783 built around proximity, personal contacts arising from family ties, back-and-forth frontier migration, a broadly shared culture, similar institutions, and a network of growing economic links. Second, Americans gradually penetrated the provinces in demographic, commercial, ideological, and political ways. Third, many Americans came to believe in the eventual convergence of the states and the provinces, even while some talked about a separate Canadian destiny. the convergence thesis overshadowed periodic aggressive urges to wrest the provinces from British control, notwithstanding the frequently strident remarks by American editors and politicians during heated moments in Anglo-American relations. As my research developed, promoted by several papers presented at scholarly meetings, the second and third themes of penetration and convergence seemed inseparable.

This book therefore defines American expansionism broadly. Historians such as Norman A. Graebner, Frederick Merk, Richard Van Alstyne, and Albert Weinberg have argued that expansionism was an aggressive impulse for territorial aggrandizement based on commercial, security, and settlement interests. But as Reginald Horsman, James A. Field, Akira Iriye, Walter La Feber, William Appleman Williams, and others have suggested, American expansion meant more than greed for land and riches. Americans after 1783 . . .

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