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Settlement and Region in British America, 1607-1763

Trevor Burnard

in Atlantic History

ISBN: 9780199730414
Published online May 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199730414-0048
Settlement and Region in British America, 1607-1763

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When the English ventured overseas in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, they established a variety of colonial settlements that, especially in the 17th century, were bewildering in their political and social diversity. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the heterogeneity of English settlement patterns became less pronounced, as settlers, slaves, and Native Americans worked out accommodations between themselves and between an imperial authority that only fitfully attempted to make colonial settlement patterns uniform. This internal heterogeneity in the British Empire was what particularly distinguished it from other imperial formations, notably the Spanish Empire in the Atlantic. In part because regional differentiation was so pronounced in colonial British America, scholarship has tended, to an extraordinary and possibly unfortunate degree, to be arranged principally around comparing and contrasting different regions. The contrast between how early American history is organized (by theme and region) and how later United States history is organized (by period) is remarkable and serves as testimony to the power of regional difference in continuing to shape our understanding of the early American past. There are other ways of organizing early American history, as is evident in many other articles in this series, but students need to be conscious of the intense effort historians of the English and British Atlantic worlds have made in exploring, comparing, and contrasting distinct regions of early America.

Article.  9675 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; European History ; African History ; History ; Regional and National History

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