Nation and Province in the First British Empire: Scotland and the Americas, 1600-1800

Nation and Province in the First British Empire: Scotland and the Americas, 1600-1800

Nation and Province in the First British Empire: Scotland and the Americas, 1600-1800

Nation and Province in the First British Empire: Scotland and the Americas, 1600-1800

Synopsis

For more than four decades, historians have devoted ever-increasing attention to the affinities that linked Scotland with the American colonies in the eighteenth century. This volume moves beyond earlier discussion in two ways. For one, the geographical coverage of the papers extends beyond the territories that became the United States to include what became Canada, The Caribbean, and even Africa. For another, the volume attends not only those areas in which Scotland was closely linked to the Americas, but also to those where it was not.

Excerpt

When I was first asked by richard sher of the eightennth-century Scottish Studies Society to put together a program for a conference on Scotland and the Americas from the seventeenth through the early nineteenth centuries, to accompany a 1994 exhibition on that subject at the John Carter Brown Library, I did not anticipate much difficulty in finding a sufficient number of speakers on the subject. Indeed, so many scholars were then at work in areas related to that topic that we were able to put together a program consisting of forty papers, on topics ranging from the Nova Scotia settlements and the development of a Scottish colonial theory to the role of Scottish merchants in the slave trade to the exile of Scottish convict women charged with the crime of infanticide. the John Carter Brown Library was an ideal site for such a conference, housing extensive collections covering the whole of the Americas from the age of discovery right through the end of the period we were to discuss.

While attracting speakers for the conference was not a problem, the coverage—both chronological and geographic— proved to be more problematic. Although the library’s collections covered the whole range of the Americas, the specialists we were able to identify were a good deal more narrow in their focus. a substantial majority covered topics relating to the thirteen British colonies that became the United States. Most of the others were to discuss the northern provinces that became Canada. Despite extensive Scottish involvement in the Caribbean, research in that area proved to be much more limited. Scottish activity elsewhere in Latin America, where in fact Scots would undertake a varied range of activities by the early years of the nineteenth century, seemed to be wholly beyond the pale of historical research. One of the principal goals of the conference became to try to encourage research on Scottish involvements with parts of the Americas other than the North American Continent.

Nor was the chronological coverage as well-balanced as we . . .

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