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1 The Collision Of Cultures
2 Britain And Its Colonies
3 Colonial Ways Of Life
4 The Imperial Perspective
5 From Empire To Independence
6 The American Revolution
7 Shaping A Federal Union
8 The Federalist Era
9 The Early Republic
10 Nationalism And Sectionalism
11 The Jacksonian Impulse
12 The Dynamics Of Growth
13 An American Renaissance: Religion, Romanticism, And Reform
14 Manifest Destiny
15 The Old South
16 The Crisis Of Union
17 The War Of The Union
18 Reconstruction: North And South
19 New Frontiers: South And West
20 Big Business And Organized Labor
21 The Emergence Of Urban America
22 Gilded-age Politics And Agrarian Revolt
23 An American Empire
24 The Progressive Era
25 America And The Great War
26 The Modern Temper
27 Republican Resurgence And Decline
28 New Deal America
29 From Isolation To Global War
30 The Second World War
31 The Fair Deal And Containment
32 Through The Picture Window: Society And Culture, 19451960
33 Conflict And Deadlock: The Eisenhower Years
34 New Frontiers: Politics And Social Change In The 1960s
35 Rebellion And Reaction In The 1960s And 1970s
36 A Conservative Insurgency
37 Triumph And Tragedy: America At The Turn Of The Century

The Imperial Perspective - Document Overview

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Hail Britannia! English subjects at home and abroad gloried in the growth of their dominion as the colonization of North America contributed to the rise of the first British Empire. The crown did not have to do much to foster trans-Atlantic enterprises, nor did it, initially, attempt to regulate them closely. As the colonies expanded in trade, territories, and peoples, however, royal ministers tried to tighten their control and administer the colonies more effectively to ensure that benefits accrued to the empire as a whole and the government in particular. At times this strategy strained relations between those at the center of the empire and those at its periphery.

As succeeding monarchs, ministers, and members of Parliament tried to consolidate and strengthen the machinery of empire, they faced challenges from colonists who began to hold slightly different views on the form and function of that empire. Through such challenges, the colonists sought redress, not rebellion. Most colonists, at least those of English origin, deemed themselves loyal subjects even when they were anxious about or angered by the crown's colonial administrators and policies. These subjects, many of whom by the end of the seventeenth century were born in America, accepted that they were provincials within the empire, but they refused to accept that as such they might have little power or recourse over legislation that directly affected them. They countered, overtly and covertly, any measures that they believed would hinder their survival and endanger their prosperity. These provincials insisted vehemently, and at times violently, that the privileges they believed to have been granted them by English birth, charter, or previous colonial practices be recognized. They did not see themselves as revolutionaries in their recalcitrance: they were merely insisting that the power and liberties acquired by the people over time—from the Magna Carta through the English Revolution of 1649 to the Glorious Revolution of 1688—be applied to them as well.

Although diversions at home, such as civil war, regicide, and revolution, sometimes led the British ministry to neglect colonial affairs, the government did want the colonies bound to the empire by law as well as culture. It established regulations for trade and issued orders, if not always troops, to secure its territories. Colonial wars strained the sinews of empire at the same time they stimulated them: conflicts against the natives as well as against other European powers sometimes led to hostilities between different interest groups within the colonies as well as between colonists and mother country. In many of the colonies, Virginia in the 1670s being a prime example, external threats exposed internal problems. Furthermore, the desires of an empire that wished to encourage trade with the Indians and minimize the expenses of security in the New World at times clashed with the expansionist wishes of the settlers.

Native tribes, England, France, and Spain all jockeyed for power and position in North America in a series of armed conflicts that culminated in what the colonists called the French and Indian War and what the English at home called the Seven Years' War. Joint action with, and subordination to, the British army, as well as the necessity to acquiese with the results of British diplomacy over the course of some of these wars began to make some colonists question the notion that colonial needs and British desires could always be met concurrently. Slowly, though certainly not surely, the provincials also began to recognize that closer ties needed to be forged between their colonies based on common interests. They were still loyal subjects, but they wanted to strengthen their power within the empire to make sure that it met their needs.

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