Ideas of Empire 1763–1776: The ‘New’ Empire


in The Making and Unmaking of Empires

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780199226665
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191706813 | DOI:
Ideas of Empire 1763–1776: The ‘New’ Empire

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At the end of the Seven Years War Britain acquired territory from its defeated enemies. Colonies settled by the French in Canada and in the West Indies, notably the island of Grenada, came under British rule, as did huge tracts of the North American interior, almost exclusively inhabited by Native Americans. At the same time the East India Company became the ruler of densely populated provinces in India. These acquisitions raised fundamental questions about imperial governance. The models of the ‘old’ empire seemed to be irrelevant. The new peoples were French Catholics, Native Americans, or Indian Hindus or Muslims. British liberty seemed to be alien to them. They must be governed in new ways, which tolerated diverse religious principles, recognised alien legal systems and did not create inappropriate representative institutions for those unused to British liberty. How this should be done aroused vigorous debate.

Keywords: British Empire; France; Grenada; East India Company; liberty; Native Americans; Roman Catholics; law; Hindus; Muslims

Chapter.  12312 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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