Corpuscles, Colonies and Kingdoms

Ted McCormick

in William Petty

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780199547890
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720529 | DOI:
Corpuscles, Colonies and Kingdoms

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This chapter looks at how Petty developed his political arithmetic in manuscript from the later 1670s to his death in 1687, focusing on his treatment of the problem of maintaining settler populations in the American colonies and on his proposals for managing the politics of religion in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Petty's comments on the relationship between English colonists and Native Americans throw a valuable sidelight on both the political specificity and the ethnic dimension of his proposals for Ireland. His more fully developed project for stabilizing religious politics under the Catholic James II, meanwhile, reversed the terms of his Irish scheme to match new political circumstances, calling not for the ‘transmutation’ of the Irish but the ‘Catholication’ of all three kingdoms. Political arithmetic gradually became less a specific project than a general ‘art of government’ by social engineering, suited to a multiple monarchy and a colonial empire.

Keywords: American colonies; Native Americans; politics of religion; multiple monarchy; Three Kingdoms; Catholicism; demography; Empire; social engineering

Chapter.  21914 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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