H-Diplo Review Essay 510: Onuf on Gould, et al, eds., "The Cambridge History of America and the World"
H-Diplo REVIEW ESSAY 510
9 March 2023
Eliga Gould, Paul Mapp, and Carla Gardina Pestana, eds., The Cambridge History of America and the World: Volume I, 1500-1820. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021, pp. xiv, 605, index, maps and illustrations.
Editor: Diane Labrosse | Commissioning Editor: Thomas Maddux | Production Editor: Christopher Ball
The first volume of The Cambridge History of America and the World is a major contribution to the literature on United States history, despite the fact that most of its talented authors are not interested in setting the stage for the history of the new nation’s foreign relations, much less in recovering its deep origins in the Anglo-American colonial past or in constructing an enlightening or inspiring proto-national narrative. “Early America has always been more diffuse than a straightforward national narrative might like,” the editors modestly conclude: “the question now is whether it is too diffuse for a cohesive national narrative to stand, or comprehensive enough to serve as a foundation on which a more perfect union can be built” (32). This somewhat confusing formulation (is the history—or, more accurately, are the histories—discussed in this volume “too diffuse” to support a national narrative, or not “comprehensive enough”?) acknowledges the editors’ awareness of the civic implications of any historiographical intervention in these troubled times.
Today’s culture warriors offer us a stark choice between two portentous dates, 1619 or 1776, when the past we are presently experiencing supposedly begins. Needless to say, historians who cherish diffuseness and aspire to comprehensiveness have little patience with such reductive narratives: this volume’s periodization thus antedates English colonization and the arrival of enslaved Africans in Jamestown and, more significantly for ‘diplomatic’ or ‘international’ historians, extends well beyond the declaration or recognition of American independence (1776 or 1783) when national history properly begins. The editors and authors do not neglect the histories of race and slavery or of nation- and world-making in the Atlantic world. To the contrary, the histories assembled here provide fresh and illuminating perspectives on race, nation, and world; indeed, I would argue, they are “comprehensive” enough to constitute the “foundation” of the new historiographical superstructure, the “more perfect union,” that the editors hopefully invoke. It is significant that they refer to the constitutional politics of 1787 (with eyes wide open to its sordid and fateful compromises), not to the transcendent abstractions that supposedly animated patriots in 1776 and have been a touchstone for progressives, historians included, ever since. Union, as Daniel Hulsebosch insightfully suggests, was a protean, generative concept in the Revolutionary age, enabling and justifying legal, political and constitutional creativity and experimentation in the federal republic’s formative decades. The federal Constitution was “more perfect” than the Articles of Confederation but nonetheless imperfect, even in its authors’ estimation, and radically so for many subsequent critics. Yet they would also say, with our editors, that seeking (if inevitably falling far short of) perfection has been and is now, more than ever, a civic imperative for successive generations of self-governing citizens.
That history should have a civic purpose might seem counter-intuitive to self-aware practitioners of the discipline. Striving for ‘objectivity,’ these avowed enemies of exceptionalist mythologies are often embarrassed by the conspicuous and continuing role historians have played in imagining, justifying, and sustaining the new nation’s collective identity. Revolutionary patriots ‘invented the people’ and authorized the ‘fiction’ of popular sovereignty, thus establishing the original framework (or foundation) for an extraordinarily durable and constantly evolving national narrative. Yet that narrative is now on life support, with dueling conceptions of the people and its history falsifying one another and exposing the rapidly attenuating bonds of their disintegrating union. Under such dire circumstances, we might well ask if ‘historians matter’: what difference can historical scholarship possibly make to the future of the ‘modern’ world—a world that nations made and failing nations seem hell-bent on destroying? Substituting the term ‘union’ for the fraught and fraying idea of a united American ‘people,’ the editors of this volume suggest a fresh, historicized perspective on the highly contingent character of nation-making and state formation. Emphasizing the multiplicity of contexts that enabled and limited collective action in the era of the ‘democratic’ (or ‘citizenship’) revolution, they focus on the dynamics of popular political mobilization, with their subjects struggling to see their way forward and make their own history.Whether forged by treaties among the ‘powers of the earth’ or by compacts, contracts, or constitutions, unions were necessarily imperfect, products of negotiation and compromise that generated new frameworks for collective action. If they did not express the will of a non-existent, mythical, or imagined ‘people,’ these unions did reflect and shape the aspirations of a heterogeneous provincial population as the British Empire collapsed.
For political theorists who appeal to timeless and transcendent ‘regime principles’ and patriots who cherish a mythical conception of the people and trace its origins and development into the deep past, the historians’ emphasis on the determinative role of contexts smacks of ‘relativism’ and ‘historicism.’ But in the present civic (and historiographic) moment, contextualism is the appropriate antidote to the proliferation of conflicting and divisive ‘truth’ claims. Denouncing the ‘fake’ claims and questioning the good faith of their enemies, moralizing absolutists assert a privileged place for themselves in the public square, denying the legitimacy of opposing views and dismantling the shared civic space that has historically enabled and justified popular political mobilization, or what we call ‘democracy.’
Historians presumably are attuned to change over time and committed to avoiding the perils of anachronism. This is more easily said than done, however, for their discipline originated in the nation-making project itself, as patriots sought to convince themselves, their would-be compatriots, and the world at large that they constituted a ‘treaty-worthy’ people with a legitimate claim to recognition. Subsequent generations of history-writers cast themselves as revisionists, avoiding the quasi-mythic inventions and exaggerations of their predecessors and proclaiming their fidelity to authentic sources and verifiable ‘facts,’ but they nonetheless more or less self-consciously cast themselves as the proper custodians of an evolving national narrative. That role is now in jeopardy. On one hand, historians mobilize against the regressive, hyper-nationalist ‘exceptionalism’ of the contemporary culture wars, rightly seeing it as a fundamental challenge to their fact-based, truth-telling discipline. But many historians also recognize the dangers of a moralizing, anti-exceptionalist revisionism that threatens to subvert the very possibility of any national narrative at all. What is needed is not a moralistic narrative about the greatness or great evil of the American people (or any other people), but rather a narrative that illuminates and sustains a viable civic and political framework for collective action and a workably modest and evolving conception of collective identity.
The essays collected here suggest that historians of foreign relations are well situated to take the lead in regenerating the narrative of nation-making and state-formation in the United States. Their comparative advantage is that they approach (or should approach) these controversial topics contextually, from the outside in, with a keen sense of the geopolitical determinants and limits of collective action in the larger ‘world.’ Of course, scholars who formerly self-identified as ‘diplomatic historians’ and more recently as ‘international historians’ are no less prone to exceptionalist anachronism than their mainstream, domestic counterparts. I would suggest, however, that the marginal status of the subfield within the broader field of American studies (particularly in the case of the early period) combined with its focus on the new nation’s marginal status among the ‘powers of the earth’ has offered these historians a unique, deflationary perspective on the United States in its formative decades.
In ways that eluded most ‘national’ historians, the makers (and subsequent students) of early American foreign policy recognized that the federal union was an ‘experiment’ in designing an effective post-imperial collective security regime. Patriots might invoke God, Providence, Nature, or the irresistible power of a self-governing ‘people,’ convincing themselves of their gloriously manifest destiny, but Revolutionary statesmen knew better. There was no ‘free security’ for the new American republics and therefore no escape from an increasingly unstable and unpredictable balance of power. Under optimal circumstances, Thomas Paine promised in Common Sense (1776), staple exports would give the United States some leverage with its trading partners (including Britain), but such circumstances proved evanescent, revealing instead radical limits on the new nation’s ‘independence’ in an interdependent and entangled trading world. If America was a Hercules in the Cradle, the cradle was no safe space for a would-be neutral infant (or ‘pygmy’) in a dangerous world.
America could not withdraw from the world, nor did Revolutionaries and founders ever intend to do so, isolationist posturing notwithstanding. In Peace Pact David Hendrickson rightly emphasizes the fundamental ambiguity and inextricability of foreign relations and domestic politics in the founding of the federal republic. The meanings of these critically important terms would only be ‘liquidated’ retrospectively, in the light of the ongoing and unpredictable ‘course of human events.’ In the run-up to independence, provincial patriots focused obsessively on what supposedly distinguished them from their metropolitan counterparts; as a self-declared independent people, anxious Americans betrayed misgivings about their own tenuous and contingent commitments to the ‘common cause’ as they challenged the good faith of would-be countrymen. Whig patriots imaginatively alienated ‘Tory’ supporters of the Crown, casting them as anti-republican ‘foreigners’ in a nation-making war that would—they hopefully claimed—transform the world. Yet they also understood that their attempt to overthrow the sovereign authority they had so recently and enthusiastically acknowledged—and that a ‘candid world’ still recognized—might easily fail, recasting them as rebels and traitors.‘Foreign’ and ‘domestic’ were thus protean terms, reflecting contingent geopolitical circumstances and the volatile loyalties of the peoples who had been swept up in the revolutionary vortex, with or (more often) without their consent. So too, ‘America’ and the ‘world’ were problematic, reciprocally constituted terms, words- and works-in-progress that are illuminated by the essays in this collection.
If Whigs and Tories envisioned themselves in different ‘worlds,’ other peoples within or beyond the fragmenting empire also faced existential threats, forging new solidarities and envisioning their own worlds in new ways. Intra- and inter-imperial conflict precipitated a collapse of legitimate authority into a near-anarchic ‘state of nature,’ opening new spaces for revolutionary—and counter-revolutionary—political and constitutional projects. Only in retrospect could a straightforward, linear narrative emerge from the dense fog of war and regime change. And, of course, the worldview of the victorious patriots obscured the ongoing presence and distinctive perspectives of the supposedly vanquished enemies of the (American) people’s revolution.
The great contribution of revisionist historians has been to recover the histories of these ‘enemies’ (and marginalized ‘friends’) that an emerging national narrative obscured. Their challenge is to construct a more inclusive interpretative framework that can contain and make sense of the histories of Gary Nash’s “unknown” revolutionaries without losing sight of their better-known counterparts. The authors in this volume suggestively sketch out the plurality of conflicting and converging geopolitical contexts that constituted the ‘worlds’ and shaped collective identities and aspirations in the revolutionary age. For better or worse (and whatever their intentions), revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries struggled to construct new regimes or reconstruct old ones with the capacity to exercise authority more effectively over their own citizens or subjects and to project state power in the ‘world’ (or over the worlds) that expanding and deepening trade and communications networks brought into view.
America and the World enables us to recognize both the plurality of worlds and worldviews in the early modern era and the increasingly integrated and entangled spaces they shared. When the Americans declared independence and claimed standing among the earth’s powers, they simultaneously ‘invented’ or ‘imagined’ a national community and a community of nations, part and whole. Yet provincial patriots were not simply making things up when they invoked fashionable ideas circulating in the enlightened ‘republic of letters.’ They were also seeking to make sense of realities on the ground, redescribing and reimagining the contexts within which they were acting, situating themselves on the ‘right side’ of an unfolding history that candid contemporaries would find plausible. Patriot polemicists were ideologists, drawing promiscuously on any and all available discursive traditions as they constructed conceptual frameworks to promote and justify collective action. In the process, they articulated intentions that led to unintended, even unimaginable consequences. To adapt L.P. Hartley’s famous maxim about the past, “the future is a foreign country,” as it was for our subjects looking forward. What we can begin to reconstruct, if only imperfectly, are the broad contexts within which these ‘foreigners’ constructed their worlds.
When European traders, colonizers and enslavers encountered new worlds, they adapted older worldviews to unfamiliar circumstances. In the Chesapeake, Alison Games notes, “the Mediterranean lingered as a frame of reference” (236); so too, “the repeated success of Barbadian landowners at transplanting their brutal agricultural regime” shaped subsequent colonial ventures in the Carolinas and beyond (239). Colonizing interlopers imaginatively incorporated new places in old geographies while exploiting natural and human resources—including the local knowledge of enslaved and indigenous peoples—to meet or anticipate demands of distant markets. Historians of this “vast early America,” Games suggests, should thus think of themselves as archaeologists, digging deep locally in what she calls “trial trenches” (228). They seek to reconstruct the changing contours of the ‘worlds’ contemporaries imagined and experienced and therefore gain a clearer sense of the complicated history of Americans as a people within the context of a complicated, entangled, interdependent, world of worlds—an unimaginable World of Our Making, simultaneously coming together in continuous waves of ‘globalization’ and falling apart, teetering on the brink of anarchy and destruction. It might be of some comfort in these dizzy, disorienting times to know that the “settler intellectuals” who launched the nation-making project also “operated in multiple worlds” in an equally precarious moment. There was no “American mind,” Michael Meranze concludes, which is precisely why Thomas Jefferson and his fellow patriots had to invent one: “instead, there were multiple streams of thought articulated by multiple streams of thinkers—some from Europe, some from Africa, some from America, and some a creolized mixture.” 
Meranze’s felicitous metaphor captures the fluidity of thought, situating its multiple sources in a dynamic geography of trade and communication. Writers in the first two parts of this volume (on “Geographies” and “Peoples”) offer a wide-angled perspective on the spaces within which their subjects constructed distinct but never entirely autonomous worlds. Emphasizing “Maritime borderlands” (Andrew Lipman) and the “Contested Aquatic World of the Atlantic, Indian, and the Pacific Oceans” (Rainer Buschmann), they offer an important corrective to the focus on homelands and territorial jurisdiction in national historiographies. Enlightenment conjectures on the stages of human development provided a ‘universal’ conceptual framework for these national histories, with advanced commercial societies (such as Britain’s) modeling the future for—and projecting their power across—a benighted world of less-developed societies of hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, and farmers. That Eurocentric metanarrative no longer holds much water for the supposedly ‘civilized’ West, much less for the world as we now know it.
The new history of America and the world that emerges in these pages culminates in the belated formation of recognizably modern nation-states and the consolidation of sovereignty within recognized boundaries. But that history can only be understood by looking towards the maritime spaces that constituted a market-made world and the circulation of goods, information, and people within its proliferating networks. The myth of American exceptionalism—that it was ‘born liberal,’ in Louis Hartz’s famous formulation—reflects the radical inapplicability of stadial theory in what became the United States. For better or (we now think) worse, colonists and colonizers did not regress to, or pass through, the prescribed stages of historical development. Nor were they ‘Americans’ in the making, for their interests and identities as provincial creoles were increasingly defined within a more capacious transatlantic imagined community—an ‘imperial imaginary’—centered on a distant metropolis.
Understanding American history from an outside-in, anti-exceptionalist perspective focuses our attention on the enabling and limiting contexts which determined the progress of nation-making and state-formation. If, as Meranze says, there was no ‘American mind,’ that means there was no distinct and singular American ‘people.’ What provincial patriots invented in the midst of imperial state failure and civil war was a collective identity yoked to a ‘common cause’ and justified by a trans-provincial history of grievances catalogued in Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. Far from being the inevitable outcome of a long-term process of political development, the break with Britain was unforeseen and unintended; for large numbers of George III’s still-loyal subjects, it was unimaginable. Yet if the identity of this self-declared people may have been an opportunistic social construction, facts on the ground—the contingent and unpredictable circumstances of a war-inprogress—made the case for independence commonsensically compelling to growing numbers of colonists across the ‘continent.’
Forging new, more perfect unions was the sine qua non of collective security; thinking continentally and constructing the institutional infrastructure of a post-imperial or, more accurately, neo-imperial regime was the only way the American people—mobilized into tenuous existence by the war—could vindicate their claim to independence. The more or less eager embrace of this new continental identity testified to the power of radically changing geopolitical circumstances or contexts to redefine loyalties and identities and precipitate political and constitutional improvisation and innovation. The continental turn toward a new world projected patriot aspirations across a seemingly boundless North American landmass and away from Britain and a despotic and corrupt old world. At the same time, however, anxious and sometimes desperate Revolutionaries looked back to the glorious future that the old empire had so recently, in the aftermath of Britain’s decisive triumph over France in the Seven Years’ War, seemed to promise—and that the revolution’s failure would forfeit. In 1788, before the federal Constitution was ratified, former and future commander-in-chief George Washington wondered if “the wretched fragments of empire” would fail to preserve and perfect their union.
Over the previous three centuries the worlds that Europeans encountered overseas were gradually integrated into world-wide trade networks. While national historians cultivated local, land-based origin stories, linking particular peoples to particular places and thus legitimating the claims of emerging nation-states, the expanding ambit of trade within and beyond Europe provided a dynamic new context for recognizing nations and regulating—or at least mitigating—conflicts among them. The ‘nation’ that figured in the ‘law of nations’ was originally defined by supposedly universal criteria, the laws that civilized Christian peoples acknowledged, enabling them to recognize—and identity with—each other as members of the European republic or commonwealth. Jeremy Bentham’s new coinage, ‘international law,’ belatedly signified the central importance of ongoing relations among nations in constituting the world that nations made. Looking beyond the boundaries that defined and distinguished the property rights of sovereigns, makers of the modern law of nations sought to extend its reach across maritime space to far-flung nodes of trade and settlement.
The new world order that law of nations writers sought to rationalize (and nationalize) emerged from tentative and exploratory contacts at the widening periphery of the extra-European world as traders and the indigenous peoples ‘discovered’ one another and established commercial connections that were transformed over time into increasingly predictable pathways for the multidirectional movement of people, products, information, credit, and capital.“Connectivity” thus “served as a major incentive for European maritime expansion, observes Buschmann (82). “A transatlantic system was being consolidated by the movement of men and women from one margin to another,” adds Patrick Griffin, making the Atlantic “an entangled space.”
The movement of people was not a people’s movement, for the great majority of migrants were enslaved or otherwise unfree. The trope of entanglement nicely captures the mixed means and motives of market-making in the Atlantic world. As Adam Smith noted, European interlopers committed ‘savage injustice’ to gain the upper, all too visible hand in their dealings with natives—and with their own countrymen. Characterizing Europeans as ‘savage’ turned conventional notions of civilizational superiority on their head, suggesting that the conflation of old and new worlds yielded ghastly results to the “moral historian,” then and now. For better and for worse, market-making was world-changing: if commerce was ‘sweet’ and civilizing, as Enlightenment apologists claimed, it was also demoralizing and destructive.
America was never a blank slate or living museum of mankind at a primitive stage of development. Nor could genocidal colonizers wipe the slate clean. The legacies of other, displaced worlds survive in our own world, reminding us of the radical contingency of our own moment. “As historians of North America embrace a transnational perspective,” write Catherine Evans and Philip Girard, they have begun to recognize “the fragility and contingency of both internal and external frontiers.” “Indigenous nations predated, and survived European contact,” they note: “even ‘domestic’ American history is, necessarily, multinational.” If the contexts and pathways that define our world seem fixed and overdetermined, ‘an interpolated continental history’—like the history of international relations—offers us a more dynamic perspective on the history that makes nations and that nations make.
Essays in this collection trace the imbricated histories of market development and state formation. Commercial and colonizing enterprises were often authorized by sovereigns, but were largely independent of ‘states’ with limited effective capacity beyond—or even within—their own nominal domains. Trade led the way, creating the contexts that sovereigns subsequently sought to manage and exploit. “Before there were empires,” Alison Games notes, “there were colonies, trading posts, fisheries, and an array of other ventures.” This “self-organizing activity” did not depend on “the active involvement of the central authorities” (229, 240). Nor did imperial state-formation in the new world emerge organically, from the inside out, through the articulation of property rights and jurisdiction in traditional agricultural societies. To the contrary, empire emerged sporadically and opportunistically in efforts of reform-minded metropolitan officials to rationalize, regulate, and exploit existing trade circuits. “The cumulative impact of this culture of colonial export,” Games concludes, “was the creation of the British Empire” (237).
The most important trade network was in Black bodies. The slave trade provided the template for other complementary trades, consolidating capital and spurring market formation on unprecedented scale. “European colonization was a capital accumulation machine,” in Jennifer Anderson’s striking formulation, “sucking up the natural resources of the Americas and depositing them across the Atlantic.” In similarly strong, though less mechanistic terms, Gregory O’Malley agrees that “the slave system was the heart of the Atlantic economy.” His language reflects a focus on the bodies deposited on the ocean’s other side—or lost at sea. Through painstaking reconstruction of the involuntary peopling of the Americas, students of the slave trade have underscored its key role in shaping new world demography: “By 1800,” they now estimate, “four times more Africans than Europeans had settled in the New World” (382). By then, demographic patterns had begun to stabilize, determining ongoing demand for enslaved labor and the varying contexts for settlement, economic development, and state formation in Euro-American creole societies. As the operations of the Atlantic economy seemed relatively more stable and predictable, contemporaries began to conceive of their world in more systemic and mechanistic terms. A more lawful world was a world made safer for trade and the resulting consolidation of many markets into one. The new United States, writes Emma Hart, “did not become any kind of global trade leader,” but it “did emerge as a cog in the machinery of increasingly global imperial systems.” Thinking globally, Americans sought to perfect the machinery of self-government, rule of law, and collective security; they also sought to police internal boundaries, rationalizing rule over enslaved laborers while displacing indigenous peoples and consolidating jurisdiction in contested hinterlands.
From today’s perspective, the history of capitalism seems to explain everything, thus constituting the fundamental and defining context of our world—and determining what we consider relevant in American history. But it is worth remembering that ‘capitalism’ has a complicated history (or histories), that it is not a disembodied, transhistorical force, but that it is as much determined by the contingent contexts within which it operates as any other history. Capitalism is less a theoretical explanation for everything than a more or less appropriate description of some things that seem particularly important to us now. The ‘machinery’ of capitalism could not function at maximal efficiency in the ‘modernizing’ world without the formation of states that were capable of exercising effective authority over their domains. One of the most important conclusions that one draws from America and the World is that the conventional national narrative, predicated on an inevitable sequence or teleology of regime types—from despotic monarchy to self-governing republic, empire to modern nation-state—is fundamentally misleading. The writers here suggest instead the simultaneity of state-formation across regime types. Far from being out-of-step with their times, empires were modernizing polities, seeking to incorporate distant provinces into novel administrative and taxation regimes while rationalizing rule at home in order to maximize states’ fiscal-military capacity. Indeed, the expansive energies and ambitions of imperial states provoked worldwide wars with rivals, the crucible for administrative reform as well as enhanced coercive capacity and the increasing fiscal demands that sparked resistance in Britain’s North American provinces.
Imperial regimes emerged in the wake of transatlantic trade networks. Metropolitan authorities sought to protect and exploit lucrative, revenue-generating commercial connections while extending jurisdiction over productive hinterlands and projecting claims against imperial and indigenous rivals in contested frontier regions. But these ‘states’ were largely, in the language of enlightened reformers, speculative ‘projects.’ Just as creole provincials ‘imagined’ that Anglo-Americans collectively constituted a distinct ‘community’ or ‘people,’ metropolitan reformers imagined an imperial state which was capable of governing a motley, far-flung collection of overseas colonies. Not surprisingly, administrative overreach proved counter-productive, so validating the conventional, quasi-mythic narrative of national origins. But the transnational perspective these essays afford suggests a more inclusive, consequential, and world-making narrative.
The idea of empire may have evoked classical antecedents but took on new meaning in the more immediate context of geopolitical conflicts over access to overseas markets and resources—that is, to participation in and control over an increasingly globalized economy. State-making on such a scale depended on adapting familiar modes of governance and law-making to novel, unprecedented circumstances. “The Seven Years’ War marked a watershed in the eighteenth century,” Eric Hinderaker and Rebecca Horn write, as “it realigned colonial powers in the Americas and prompted a generation of administrators to promote thoroughgoing imperial reforms.” Reflecting and responding to geopolitical imperatives, reformers reimagined sovereignty and state authority as they sought to rationalize imperial administration. “The aspirational sovereignty of monarchs,” Christopher Hodson explains, took on a new, more conspicuously modern form, when claimed and exercised over distant subjects. “The Western Hemisphere functioned as a new fulcrum of state power,” Hinderaker and Horn conclude (259). The Anglo-American imperial crisis accelerated the process of state formation and the coincidental transformation of the concept of sovereignty. American independence was the unintended consequence of the failure of British imperial reform efforts as well as of a broader process of state formation resulting from inter- and intra-imperial war in an era of revolution and regime change.
In the conventional national narrative, the despotic British empire is the counterpoint to the self-governing republic, representing the imminent prospect of Old-World tyranny triumphing over New-World liberty and precipitating the continent-wide mobilization that gave birth to the nation. But quarrels over the empire’s constitution constituted only one of many converging contexts that transformed scattered resistance into what patriots imagined to be a ‘common,’ continental ‘cause.’ Imperial aspirations, whether of metropolitan reformers or their creole counterparts, might be inscribed on maps and confirmed by treaty negotiations among the ‘powers of the earth’ at Paris in 1763 or 1783. Yet most of North America remained beyond the reach of European and Euro-American diplomats and would-be colonizers.
Indigenous peoples emerged from ongoing demographic disaster to create alliances and ‘empires’ of their own, Pekka Hämäläinen argues, exploiting trade relations with Europeans and with each other while making a mockery of European imperial pretensions. “Consolidation of indigenous power in the interior” created what law of nations writers called a “state of nature” around a relatively narrow band of Euro-American settlement. This was less the legendary regression to a ‘primitive’ or ‘savage’ stage when, as John Locke so memorably put it in his Second Treatise, “in the beginning all the world was America,” but more like the ‘anarchy’ of interstate relations in the modern world. Nor was market expansion the inexorable driving force of settler imperialism. To the contrary, notes Hämäläinen, “the Columbian Exchange could actually work for the Indians’ advantage,” giving them access to “guns, metal, [and] horses (186).” “In the Southwest,” he concludes, “European imperialism did not merely stall in the face of Native resistance; it was eclipsed by it” (193). The ‘frontier’ was less the Turnerian crucible of American ‘democracy’ than the site of modern state formation, as imperial frontiers were more generally in the revolutionary era. As Lisa Ford persuasively argues, this is where empires perfected sovereignty claims, consolidated jurisdiction, and developed modern technologies of control over their own as well as subject populations.
Hämäläinen’s indigenous empires emerged in the trans-Mississippi West long after the American revolutionary war—a ‘civil war’ within Britain’s American empire—led to the constitution of a neo-imperial, federal-republican regime in the United States. Self-styled Americans confronted a widening array of geopolitical challenges at home and abroad, against ‘internal’ as well as ‘external’ enemies—and all without the superintending authority and protective power of the imperial state. Aspirations to nationhood and a more perfect union betrayed well-justified anxieties about the capacity of the new republican regime to deal with enduring obstacles to constitutional and political reform that had thwarted British imperial reformers. Internally bounded by established provincial jurisdictions, radically imperfect confederal and federal unions also had to accommodate sectionally distinct trade regimes with distinctive orientations to the trading world beyond. Before independence, Emma Hart writes, American traders “operated almost entirely separately from European control” (323). The empire was as much an ‘imagined community’ as the new nation that sought to succeed it, for the centrifugal tendencies that subverted British rule in North America constituted an ongoing, existential threat to any successor regime—or regimes.
The history of Britain’s North American empire that emerges in these pages calls into question the revisionist counter-narrative of American national history as well as the conventional, quasi-mythic narrative that serves as its foil. The new, post-revisionist understanding of the British imperial state locates its development in the late provincial era—in the broader context of escalating imperial rivalries—and links it to a complex history of market expansion and articulation in a dialectic of consolidation and differentiation. This in turn was the broad context of state formation that enlightened political economists—and the ‘political scientists’ of the American founding era—sought to rationalize and direct. State formation did not move in a straightforward, unilinear direction, scaling up and incorporating vast productive hinterlands and markets. Expansive aspirations were inevitably confounded: regime change and reform in the revolutionary age were marked by the articulation of national markets and the growing capacity of governments to navigate and manage “multidirectional circuits of trade” (324).
The British imperial crisis that led to American independence is best understood in terms of a more protracted crisis of the European state system precipitated by imperial rivalries around the world that revolutionized the traditional balance of power. Far from rejecting the idea of empire and its ‘westward course,’ Americans embraced a new and improved version of the imperial nationhood. Settler elites who had formerly fashioned themselves as agents of an expanding British ‘empire of liberty’ now took the lead in declaring their creole countrymen as a new ‘American’ people, thus suppressing the British identity that originally justified resistance to unconstitutional encroachments on their liberties. The patriots’ ultimate invocation of natural rights was less a function of their cosmopolitan enlightenment than of the diplomatic imperatives of their belated break with Britain.
Self-declared Americans had to convince potential allies (and themselves) that they were not British and that they would sacrifice their lives and ‘sacred honor’ in order to vindicate that bold claim. Contemporary observers, in Britain and America, were understandably skeptical. Some of the most prominent patriots were reluctant to embrace independence, the commitments of an indeterminately large number of ‘sunshine patriots’ were weak and wavering, and an obdurate minority of Anglo-American loyalists refused to abjure their king. Signers of the Declaration feared—or, perhaps, wanted—to believe that they had signed their death warrants, conjuring up an imagined community of patriot martyrs and so inspiring their countrymen to follow their deadly lead. “Give me liberty or give me death,” in Patrick Henry’s immortal words, auguring a new birth of freedom and purging creole patriots of a degraded British identity. Yet, of course, these American revolutionaries were protesting too much: their character and culture, the rights they sought to vindicate, the ways they saw their worlds and the world beyond, their hopes and fears—all betrayed their provincial Anglo-American origins.
The term ‘creole’ has never had much purchase among national historians who, following the lead of patriot nation-makers, have tended to cast the Revolution in universal terms, distinguishing citizens from subjects, new regime from old, republic from empire. In the conventional narrative, colonists are depicted as proto-Americans whose distinctive experiences as settlers in a new land pointed irresistibly toward independence. The contributors to this volume eschew this Whiggish teleology, instead emphasizing the broader context of state formation and economic development in the British Atlantic world. Colonists are now colonizers, unsettling and displacing indigenous peoples and exploiting enslaved workers; the new jurisdictions they constructed, Christopher Tomlins shows, were designed to facilitate this “creative destruction,” not to model more enlightened forms of self-government and secure the rights of man.“Trying to cast off European imperialism,” Caitlin Fitz aptly notes in the volume’s concluding essay, “the United States built its own empire in North America, winning loyalty from its far-flung citizens by helping them dispossess Indigenous nations as well as Spain and Mexico.”
Patriot resistance to imperial fiscal and administrative initiatives spurred a process of political and military mobilization with unintended and unpredictable implications for provincial polities. Their ‘democratization’ was a consequence of the expanding scope of imperial rivalries in America as well as more familiar intra-imperial rifts over commercial and constitutional issues. Anglicizing creoles eagerly embraced integration into the Atlantic trading system during the ‘consumer revolution’ of the late provincial period, but the threat of incorporation in an increasingly centralized British imperial state provoked deepening misgivings. As the histories of British settler societies around the world make clear, settlers had no particular genius or desire for making their own way in the world and in assuming the considerable burdens of self-government: the Anglo-American provinces that became the United States—forging an empire of their own—were outliers. Thinking of colonists as Anglicizing, creole descendants of earlier generations of colonizing settlers enables us to recognize the crucial importance of their relations with the larger world to their ongoing development. ‘America’—or, rather, the various sites of settlement that became the United States—was always part of the ‘world.’
What was ‘exceptional about the ‘new’ nation was the long history of separate legal, constitutional, and diplomatic development as these places negotiated their place in the world prior to the era of imperial consolidation and state formation. Mark Peterson focuses on this earlier history in The City State of Boston, emphasizing the enduring significance of a distinctive provincial constitutional culture in later periods. If colonizing settlers everywhere were agents of empire, even in Puritan New England, what ‘empire’ meant was constantly changing; it was in response to those changes, Jack Greene and Craig Yirush have shown, that a developing trans-provincial ‘settler constitutionalism’ and neo-British rights consciousness came to provide creole polemicists with compelling justifications for resisting imperial state-building reform efforts, and the coincidental “expansion of” what Evans and Girard call “settler state capacity” that accompanied the eventual, originally unintended break with Britain (275).
The Declaration of Independence is generally understood as the definitive repudiation of parliamentary pretensions to sovereignty over King George III’s rebellious American provinces. Within the broader geopolitical context of the imperial crisis, however, the American bid for recognition can be seen as a key moment in the revolutionary redefinition and reconstruction of legitimate authority. While patriot mobilization exposed the incapacity and illegitimacy of the imperial state, it also modeled new forms of political and military organization. These extraconstitutional structures and practices, R.R. Palmer famously observed, prepared the way for the reconstitution of provincial polities and the democratization of their politics. Patriot mobilization also pointed toward a more robust, recognizably modern conception of sovereignty, anticipating Max Weber’s formulation of the term as the state’s “monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.”
Locating the source of legitimate authority in the people rather than the king, Americans liberated their new states—and an emerging federal state—from the traditional constraints on the effective jurisdiction of early modern monarchical regimes. Of course, this is not the story liberty-loving custodians of the national narrative tell, with the ‘people’s revolution’ minimizing the ambit and capacity of state authority. In their telling, self-government tends toward no government at all, at the end of history. But contemporaries knew better. Launching their ‘experiment’ in republican self-government in the midst of war, seeking the recognition from ‘the powers of the earth,’ and recognizing that self-preservation was the first law of nature, American revolutionaries understood that ‘sovereignty’ and ‘independence’ were convertible terms. President Thomas Jefferson, the supposed exponent of minimal government, grasped this apparent paradox when he proclaimed in his first inaugural address that “this Government, the world’s best hope” was “the strongest Government on earth.” Americans had retooled the machinery of constitutional government in ways that would enable them to mobilize most effectively, as Jefferson imagined they had done in the war for independence, with every patriotic citizen meeting “invasions of the public order as his own personal concern.”
Jefferson certainly struck exceptionalist chords in his account of the new nation’s recent history, exaggerating the union’s strength in the wake of its near collapse. But when he conflated the ‘public’ and ‘personal,’ Jefferson articulated the emerging—and mystifying—logic of modern nation-states more generally and the sovereignty—or “monopoly…of physical force”—they claimed to exercise in their peoples’ name. Sovereignty was the co-production of states at war, as the ‘commonwealth’ of civilized European states and its balance of power collapsed and imperial states sought to consolidate authority over indigenous peoples and creole settler societies in the nation-making age of the ‘democratic’ revolution. Within the British imperial world, Lisa Ford persuasively argues, sovereignty was performed and conceptualized on the ground, in the quotidian refinements of rule—and the more or less frequent recourse to violence that constituted its ultimate sanction. 
Important essays in this collection chart the emergence of a more expansive conception of sovereignty. Weber’s influential formulation reflects the positivist turn toward international law, with sovereign states monopolizing its enforcement against supposed violators. Yet that monopoly was aspirational, the ideal type that animated ambitious nationalists as they sought a more perfect fit between a ‘given territory’ (that is, within recognized boundaries) and that state’s inhabitants, permanent or temporary, citizens (of various statuses) and noncitizens. Of course, historians would object, no boundaries are ‘given’ until and unless they are recognized and enforced—making their givenness, whether from ‘nature’ or from a particular people’s ‘history,’ a retrospective invention and legitimating fiction. The conflation of nation and state thus constituted the aspirational horizon in an age of regime change, contested jurisdiction and state formation. The aspirations of a would-be ‘power of the earth’ were on conspicuous display in the case of the United States, less conspicuously among long-established but no less vulnerable powers, as the French Revolution would soon demonstrate. Under such radically contingent circumstances, a more dynamic, historicized definition of sovereignty comes into clearer view, focusing on what states actually did, at ‘home,’ to perfect jurisdiction and maintain order, and abroad, in negotiating its necessarily problematic place in an ever-changing world.
Elizabeth Mancke captures the new meaning of sovereignty in a brilliant account of what achieving ‘independence’ in an increasingly interdependent world meant for a new nation born in revolutionary war. Old regime sovereigns promised protection in exchange for allegiance, a covenantal obligation that George III betrayed when he made war against his once loyal subjects. But it was by no means clear what sovereignty entailed for self-declared, self-governing Americans as they assumed the obligation to protect themselves from existential threats at home and abroad. For market-oriented provincial societies, looking eastward across the vast maritime spaces that connected them with the larger world, “maritime independence, perhaps more that terrestrial independence, was the sine qua non of international recognition of the United States as an equal state.” “Sovereignty was not just about territory,” Mancke writes, but “was also about the ability to represent and protect people and property beyond the boundaries of the United States” (420, my emphasis). Vindicating the new nation’s “terrestrial independence” proved equally problematic as controversies erupted over state boundaries, separatists sought to erect new states, and Congress struggled to establish effective jurisdiction over a vast, uncharted hinterland, thus exposing a vulnerable federal union to imperial rivalry and indigenous resistance.
State-making redefined internal as well as external boundaries. Christopher Hodson’s essay on the history of “statelessness” offers illuminating perspectives on state formation and evolving conceptions of the ‘people’ or ‘nation.’ The metaphorical ‘body politic’ was inscribed in the bodies of outlawed, stateless persons, legitimate and legitimating targets of “states’ precocious projection of authority.” Whether policing the pirate-infested circuits of oceanic commerce or protecting planters from slave revolts, states proved themselves at their exclusionary limits. “The identification, vilification, and, ultimately, creation of stateless groups,” Hodson writes, “became a primary function—perhaps theprimary function of rising states throughout the early modern Atlantic world.”  Conflicts among rival empires, the continuing resistance of indigenous polities, and the logistical challenges of managing trade and the movement of (mostly unfree) people on an unprecedented scale modeled the forms of states-to-come in ways which social contract theorists could not possibly have imagined.
The history of the United States cannot be extricated from that of the ‘world,’ particularly in its colonial and provincial origins, revolutionary founding, and formative early decades. Within the analytical framework of these essays, there should be no surprise in the complex and often troubling legacies of ‘1776.’ In his deflationary account of the American “citizenship revolution,” James Sidbury speaks unsettling truth to the power of patriotic mythology: “expanding rights accorded to white citizens was directly linked to attacks on Black rights.” Yet it does not follow that white supremacy originated in the evil genius of hypocritical racist revolutionaries, for the protection of what became (but was not then) the ‘peculiar institution’ was a ‘given’ in their world—and one that many patriots, including some enslavers, regretted. But making a nation and building a state put a premium on the ‘invention’ and mass mobilization of a ‘people’ in a war for independence that defined itself—as warring peoples do—against its enemies, internal and external.
The ‘exclusionary’ boundaries of nationhood, so long denied and suppressed in American historical consciousness, are now so blindingly conspicuous that Americans can see very little else. This is where students of early American foreign relations can claim comparative advantage, for they understand that the whole (world) is much more than the sum of its (national) parts, and that all people and peoples do not fit neatly within the world of nation-states; they also understand that the international ‘system’ determines the character of recognizable regimes and the force they can legitimately deploy and that this particularly is the case in the new United States. Their greatest advantage is (or should be) that they can rise above the special pleading of exceptionalist patriots: looking at the United States dispassionately, from the outside in, they can see that some swords have two edges. Exclusion implies inclusion; mobilization is the threshold and prerogative of citizenship. “The determination to create a white republic,” Christopher Brown writes, “fostered in African Americans a commitment to stay and unite.” Sovereignty, citizenship, nation and state building were all radically imperfect and aspirational. Boundaries and belonging were not fixed, but rather a work in progress—though not necessarily a ‘progressive’ one, for history has no arc.
The essays in the first volume of The Cambridge History of America and the World set the stage for the British imperial crisis and the creation of a new nation in the Anglo-American provinces and the history of its relation to the world. This was undoubtedly not the goal of authors who focus on the ways various peoples constructed and imagined their own distinctive worlds. But the recovery of these ‘lost’ worlds and recognition of their enduring legacies in our own world challenge international historians to reconsider and revise the conventional, deeply internalized and quasi-mythic national narratives that have framed our view of the world. Working from the outside in—from world to nation-in-the making—international historians can tell a better, truer, more fully historicized story. They are ideally situated to develop the implications of situating America in the world, for no nation is ever distinct from its world. The modern conception of ‘nation’ or of the ‘state’ to which it seems necessarily hyphenated is itself historically contingent, more aspirational—sometimes absurdly so, contemporary critics said in the case of the new United States—than self-evidently descriptive of any facts on the ground, or at sea.
Reframing the national narrative in the ways this volume suggests releases it from teleological overdetermination, transforming myth into history. That history illuminates broader developments in (and of) the world: what was ‘new’ about the ‘new nation’ were local manifestations of worldwide developments. Yet, as Americans have recognized from the very beginning of their national history, much remained the same in the post-provincial, creole societies of the independent United States, for better and—many of us are now inclined to judge—for worse. The United States was the first great modern republic, patriots proudly proclaimed, yet it was also a new and ‘improved’ version of the old British empire—the “land of the free” and “the homes of the slave.”
“Colonization continued well beyond the traditional ‘colonial period,’” Max Edelson writes; “the settler colonial model,” Patrick Griffin adds, worked “most effectively for the period after the American Revolution,” when “the productive capacities of people” were “harnessed… to the power of the state” (174, 175). The editors capture the protean character of the Revolution most pithily. “Empire,” they provocatively assert, “was simply another word for independence” (25). As we have seen, other words ‘came together’ in this period, in a linguistic mobilization that was both reductive—simplifying complicated circumstances, clarifying momentous decisions—and generative—packing new meanings into familiar terms, fostering new hopes and dreams, and spurring a process of popular political mobilization that enabled dissident creoles to imagine themselves a ‘people.’ As we unpack these words, we can glimpse a lost world worth recovering.
“A narrowly national focus,” Janet Polasky astutely notes, “not only misses the variety of definitions of liberty propagated throughout the Atlantic world, it also inadvertently underplays the extensive impact of the American Revolution”. That impact has been and should be constantly reassessed, not in order to render a final judgment on the ‘citizenship revolution,’ for we are not at the end of our history. But an anti-exceptionalist national narrative that situates the American experiment historically in its own ever-changing world can give us a better sense of how we got to be where we are now, in our own ever-changing world.
Peter S. Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor, Emeritus, University of Virginia received his PhD at Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with Jack P. Greene. His books include Federal Union, Modern World: The Law of Nations in an Age of Revolutions, 1776-1814 (Madison, Wisc.: Madison House, 1993) and Nations, Markets, and War: Modern History and the American Civil War, (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2006), both with his brother, international relations theorist Nicholas G. Onuf, as well as. “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination (New York: Liveright, 2016), with Annette Gordon-Reed.
 Eliga Gould, Paul Mapp, and Carla Gardina Pestana, “Introduction: What Does America and the World “Mean before 1825, in Gould, Mapp, and Pestana, eds., The Cambridge History of America and the World: Volume I, 1500-1820 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021; hereafter cited as CHAW), 8-33, quotation at 32.
 Daniel Hulsebosch, “Independence and Union: Imperfect Unions in Revolutionary Anglo-America,” CHAW, 487-509. i
 Edmund S. Morgan, Inventing the People: The Rise of Popular Sovereignty in England and America (New York: W.W. Norton, 1988); Michael D. Hattem, Past and Prologue: Politics and Memory in the American Revolution (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020).
 Robert R. Palmer, The Age of the Democratic Revolution (2 vols., Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1959-64); Douglas Bradburn, The Citizenship Revolution: Politics and the Creation of the American Union, 1774-1804 (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009).
 Max M. Edling, Perfecting the Union: National and State Authority in the US Constitution (New York: Oxford University Press, 2021).
 Gould, Among the Powers of the Earth: The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012).
 Max M. Edling, A Hercules in the Cradle: War, Money, and the American State, 1783-1867 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014).
 David C. Hendrickson, Peace Pact: The Lost World of the American Founding (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003); Hendrickson, “Bringing the State System Back In: The Significance of the Union in Early American History,” in Peter Thompson and Peter S. Onuf, eds., State and Citizen: British America and the Early United States (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013), 113-49.
 On monarchical sentiment in provincial Anglo-America, see Brendan McConville, The King's Three Faces: The Rise & Fall of Royal America, 1688-1776 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2006).
 Gary B. Nash, The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America (New York: Viking, 2005).
 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983); Peter Onuf and Nicholas Onuf, Federal Union, Modern World: The Law of Nations in an Age of Revolution, 1775-1814 (Madison, WI: Madison House, 1993), 53-73.
 L. P. Hartley, “The Past is a Foreign Country: They Do Things Differently There,” in Colm Tóibín, ed., The Go-Between(New York: New York Review Books, 2002; 1954), 17.
 Alison Games, “Making Colonies and Empires in North America and the Greater Caribbean,” CHAW, 228-250, quotations at 236 and 239.
 “Forum: Situating the United States in Vast Early America,” eds. Eliga Gould and Rosemarie Zagarri, William and Mary Quarterly. 3rd Series, 78 (2021), 187-280.
 Nicholas Greenwood Onuf, World of Our Making: Rules and Rule in Social Theory and International Relations (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1989).
 Michael Meranze, “Uncertain America: Settler Colonies, the Circulation of Ideas and the Vexed Situation of Early American Though,” CHAW, 336-356, quotation at 354.
 Andrew Lipman, “Maritime Borderlands,” CHAW, 60-79; Rainer Buschmann, “The Americas and the Contested Aquatic World of the Atlantic, Indian, and the Pacific Oceans,” CHAW, 80-95.
 Nicholas Onuf and Peter Onuf, Nations, Markets, and War: Modern History and the American Civil War (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2006).
 Louis Hartz, The Liberal Tradition in America: An Interpretation of American Political Thought Since the Revolution (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1955); Peter Onuf, “American Exceptionalism and National Identity,” American Political Thought 1 (2012), 77-100.
 Robert G. Parkinson, The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2016).
 George Washington to Henry Lee, Jr., Sept. 22, 1788, The Papers of George Washington Digital Edition (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, Rotunda, 2008): https://rotunda-upress-virginia-edu.proxy01.its.virginia.edu/founders/GEWN-04-06-02-0469
 Onuf and Onuf, Federal Union, Modern World; Jeremy Bentham, Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1879; orig. pub, 1789), 326, https://heinonline-org.proxy1.library.virginia.edu/HOL/Page?collection=beal&handle=hein.beal/inprmo0001&id=3&men_tab=srchresults
 Patrick Griffin, “Mobility and the Movements of Peoples,” CHAW, 161-78, quotations at 168, 169.
 Onuf and Onuf, “Adam Smith: Moral Historian,” Nations, Markets, and War, 187-218, Smith quotation, 188.
 Albert O. Hirschman, The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before Its Triumph (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977).
 Catherine Evans and Philip Girard, “Law and Empire, 1500-1812,” CHAW, 274-294, quotation at 292.
 Jennifer L. Anderson, “Extractive Industries and the Transformation of American Environments,” CHAW, 96-114, quotation at 113.
 George O’Malley, “Slavery, Captivity, and the Slave Trade in Colonial North America and Global Connections,” CHAW, 381-402, quotation at 381.
 Emma Hart, “The Commercial Worlds of Early America,” CHAW, 314-335, quotation at 316.
 Eric Hinderaker and Rebecca Horn, “Imperial Wars, Imperial Reform,” CHAW, 251-273, quotation at 260.
 Christopher Hodson, “Statelessness, Subjecthood, and the Early American Past,” CHAW, 139-160, quotation at 141.
 On sovereignty see particularly Griffin, American Leviathan: Empire, Nation, and Revolutionary Frontier (New York: Hill and Wang, 2008); Griffin, America’s Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).
 Pekka Hämäläinen, “How Native Americans Shaped Early America,” CHAW, 179-201, quotation at 179.
 John Locke, The Two Treatises of Civil Government (1689), chap. 5 (Property), para. 49, Online Library of Liberty, https://oll.libertyfund.org/title/hollis-the-two-treatises-of-civil-government-hollis-ed
 Lisa Ford, Settler Sovereignty: Jurisdiction and Indigenous People in America and Australia. 1788-1836 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010).
 Christopher L. Tomlins, Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580-1865 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
 Caitlin Fitz, “The United States and the Americas,” CHAW, 554-571, quotation at 574.
 Jack P. Greene, ed., Exclusionary Empire: English Liberty Overseas, 1600-1900 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
 Mark Peterson, The City-State of Boston: The Rise and Fall of an Atlantic Power, 1630-1865 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019).
 Jack P. Greene, Peripheries and Center: Constitutional Development in the Extended Polities of the British Empire and the United States, 1607-1788 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1986); Craig Yirush, Settlers, Liberty, and Empire: The Roots of Early American Political Theory, 1675-1775 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011).
 Palmer, The Age of the Democratic Revolution 1:213-63.
 Max Weber, “Politics as a Vocation,” reprinted from H.H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, eds. and trans., Essays in Sociology, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1946), 4, https://ia802609.us.archive.org/35/items/weber_max_1864_1920_politics_as_a_vocation/weber_max_1864_1920_politics_as_a_vocation.pdf
 Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801, in Thomas Peterson, ed., Thomas Jefferson Writings (New York: Library of America, first edition, 1984), 493, my emphasis.
 Lisa Ford, The King’s Peace: Law and Order in the British Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2021).
 Elizabeth Mancke, “A Maritime World,” CHAW, 403-422, quotation at 405.
 Christopher Hodson, “Statelessness, Subjecthood, and the Early American Past,” CHAW, 139-160, quotations at 141.
 James Sidbury, “Citizenship,” CHAW, 533-553, quotation at 539.
 Christopher Leslie Brown, “Antislavery in America, 1776-1820: Comparison, Contours, Contexts,” CWAH, 423-441, quotation at 440.
 John M. Murrin, “In the Land of the Free and the Homes of the Slave, Maybe there was Room Even for Deference,” Journal of American History 85 (1998), 86-91.
 S. Max Edelson, “Changing American Geographies,” CHAW, 37-59, quotation at 57.
 Janet Polasky, “Atlantic Revolutions,” CHAW, 510- 32, quotation at 514.
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