The Age of Constitutionalism: Crisis, Rebellion, and Dissent in Eighteenth-Century Colonial North America
This thesis examines the role of constitutional thought in the development of colonial American resistance to the authority of the British state. It argues that beginning in 1765 American colonists recognized the need for constitutional reform in order to mitigate imperial power from London. At the same time, these debates had between colonists on the continent, and Britons in the metropole, were the product of a growing democratic spirit. This spirit that past historians have argued to have only been present in people who took up the revolutionary cause was likewise informing more moderate ideologies that sought out peaceable reform over a violent independence. At the onset of war, American colonists who refused to take up arms against the British became the enemies of the larger republican movement, which moderates had interpreted as jeopardizing the degree of liberty guaranteed by a connection to the British Constitution. By 1783, thousands of American colonists who refused to join in the rebel cause entered into an exile that propelled them into the British Atlantic world. Of the nearly fifty thousand who would leave the newly independent Thirteen Colonies, nearly thirty thousand would arrive and settle on the shores of the Fundy coast. Once there, American refugees continued to exhibit principles and beliefs that were democratic in nature, mirroring those of their more rebellious counterparts. In doing so, the refugees that arrived in the Atlantic region of modern-day Maritime Canada demonstrate the enduring legacy of American-born democratic attitudes, which shaped the development of new colonial societies throughout their diaspora.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/24039
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