The American Revolution in Atlantic Perspective

David Armitage

in The Oxford Handbook of the Atlantic World

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199210879
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 The American Revolution in Atlantic Perspective

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Two assumptions can be made about the American Revolution: it shaped the Atlantic world and was shaped by the Atlantic world. These Atlantic perspectives challenged accounts of it as a specifically American sequence of events, of defining relevance only to the history of United States. Conjuring states out of colonies was the single most radical act of the American Revolution: indeed, it was precisely what turned that sequence of events from a civil war into a revolution as it began the transformation of the Atlantic world into an arena hospitable, first, to independent states on its western shores, then to republicanism (in the sense of non-monarchical government), and finally to the creation of federal republics — the United States, Venezuela, and Mexico, for instance — on a scale undreamed of by classical and early modern thinkers. This article retraces the course of the Revolution from its beginnings in the aftermath of the Seven Years War and places its events into the context of Britain's Atlantic empire and the shifting fortunes of the other European empires of the Atlantic world.

Keywords: American Revolution; Atlantic world; history; United States; Britain; Seven Years War; empires; civil war; republicanism; federal republics

Article.  8726 words. 

Subjects: History ; United States History

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