A Comparative History of the British Empire and the Causes of the American Revolution

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Date / time
Date(s) - 23 February
6:00 pm

Lecture Theatre C, Avenue Campus, University of Southampton


The John Rule Memorial Lecture will be given by Dr Andrew O’Shaughnessy, Vice President of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Professor of History, University of Virginia

The lecture will contend that imperial history can offer important new insights for our understanding of the causes of the American Revolution. It will be shown that British policy towards America in the 1760s and 1770s was similar to a series of parallel initiatives throughout the British Empire. Indeed, the motivation, causes and direction of these policies are more comprehensible when understood in the broader imperial context.

These similarities in imperial policy raise the obvious question as to why the colonies reacted differently and why some colonies remained loyal.  The topic has indeed been explored in monographs for individual colonies but a collective consideration of all the colonies better enables us to debate and rank the causes of the American Revolution.  The lecture traces and explains the different responses of the colonies to the imperial crisis. It concludes by examining the implications of the responses of the other loyal colonies for our understanding of the causes of the American Revolution.


RSVP: To reserve a place for this lecture please email Sandy White on sw17@soton.ac.uk