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Lost Horizons: The United States and the Challenge of British North America, 1760-1871

Davis, Gareth; (2019) Lost Horizons: The United States and the Challenge of British North America, 1760-1871. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

The historical problem this dissertation addresses is the persistent challenge British North America posed for those who transited from British colonists to citizens of the USA. A Greater North America post-1760 encompassed Catholic Canadiens challenging what it meant to be British American. Following Independence, that challenge was heightened as nascent Americans confronted both a foreign country and the past they had rejected. The American identity, contested within the Republic itself, was constructed not only in response to a distant world, but to the Britain that persisted on its doorstep. In defining themselves, socially, politically, and culturally, the attributes of that identity upon which Americans fixed were explored in their relationship with British America. The sources upon which I focus are those that engaged with the American public imagination. These were magazines, journals, newspapers, travel guides, pulpit sermons, and political debates. Both as consumers of popular media and as visitors to the provinces, Americans explored what it meant to be different using their nearest point of comparison. Commitments to the republican experiment and egalitarian democracy were accentuated in contact with monarchical, hierarchical British America. I argue that the survival of Catholic Canadiens reaffirmed an aggressive Protestant Anglophone identity that was specifically American, and the notion that national integrity could only be denuded by multiculturalism. Fugitive black Americans found a space in Canada where hierarchy trounced white Jacksonian democracy, enabling them to assert positive identities as families, communities, and citizen-subjects. More importantly, the British American presence sustained continentalism, a core ideology of the Revolution, complicating Americans’ definition of their own space and place within the hemisphere they occupied. The British provinces were unlike any other polity in the western hemisphere. They demanded America’s attention because of proximity and seeming similarity, both confusing and affirming the nation’s identity.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Lost Horizons: The United States and the Challenge of British North America, 1760-1871
Event: UCL
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Licence (https://creative commons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10068653
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