Colonial Emigration, Public Policy, and Tory Romanticism, 1783–1830

Karen O’Brien

in Lineages of Empire

Published by British Academy

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780197264393
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734571 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Colonial Emigration, Public Policy, and Tory Romanticism, 1783–1830

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This chapter focuses on white colonial emigration and the settlement of the British and Irish following the loss of the first British Empire. In particular, it examines the British imaginative engagement with the figure of the colonial settler as a casualty of war, industrialization, and poverty, as well as an economic migrant who nevertheless appeared to signify the potential for the recuperation of British society in the future. The chapter is also concerned with the role of the Romantic writers and literature in the new national imaginative investment in colonial settlement. It furthermore discusses Tory arguments and policy making, which encouraged state involvement and planning of the colonization of the white-settler territories in New South Wales, Canada, the Cape, and New Zealand. This Tory strain of British imperialism was issued out from the Romantic critique of classical political economy and the Romantic assault on Malthus’s non-interventionist stance on poverty. In contrast to the liberal economists, proponents of the Tory arguments advocated the active involvement of the state in managing poverty, and the export of the excess of the population to the overseas colonies. By focusing on the Tory outlook and its implications for the settler colonies, including the imaginative dimension of the literary writers, the chapter gives a profound understanding on the strand of imperialism that evolved together with the nineteenth-century imperial liberalism, yet substantially differed from it.

Keywords: white colonial emigration; settlement; British settlers; Irish settlers; colonial settler; economic migrant; colonial settlement; Romantic writers; Tory

Chapter.  8130 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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