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British Imperialism, Liverpool, and the American Revolution, 1763-1783

HILL, S (2015) British Imperialism, Liverpool, and the American Revolution, 1763-1783. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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This thesis draws upon evidence from over twenty archives in the UK and US. It uses the context of Liverpool, arguably the ‘second city of empire’ because of its extensive social, economic, and political networks overseas, to enhance knowledge of British imperialism during the American Revolutionary era (1763-1783).Part One analyses the ‘gentlemanly capitalist’ paradigm of P.J. Cain and A.G. Hopkins. In brief, this theory argues that the landed elite and financial-commercial services, concentrated upon the City of London, held sway over British imperial policy-making. This was chiefly because these interests were regarded as being ‘gentlemanly’, or socially acceptable, to the landed elite. In contrast, northern manufacturers were less influential in the imperial decision-making process. By working longer hours and being associated with labour unrest, industrialists were not perceived as being sufficiently gentlemanly by the ruling order. My dissertation tests this theory within the context of the late-eighteenth century. This is an original contribution to knowledge because most, although not all, studies of Cain and Hopkins focus upon later periods. Hanoverian Liverpool is an ideal test case because the town had a mixed economy. It contained a manufacturing base, served a wider industrial hinterland, and, because Liverpool was linked to the Atlantic empire, spawned a mercantile service sector community with interests in commerce and finance. This thesis generally supports Cain and Hopkins, but with some modifications. One of these is to view the late-eighteenth century as a period of emerging gentlemanly capitalism, referred to here as ‘proto-gentlemanly capitalism’. The fact that Liverpool merchants and the local landed elite were not yet fully socially integrated, is one of several reasons why the town lacked success in influencing imperial policy-making between 1763 and 1783.Warfare was synonymous with the Hanoverian empire. Therefore, Part Two expands our knowledge of the empire at home, or how the American War (1775-1783) impacted upon Liverpool economically, socially, and culturally. Previous histories of the economic impact of this conflict upon Liverpool concentrated upon overseas trade, and therefore stressed its negative consequences. However, this thesis looks at both overseas trade and domestic business. It paints a more nuanced picture, and, by using Liverpool as a case study, shows that the impact of warfare upon the UK economy produced mixed results. Finally, this thesis considers the socio-cultural impact of the war upon Liverpool. In the process, it demonstrates that military conflict affected both the northern and southern regions of Britain during the eighteenth century. Militarisation of the local community prompted discussions regarding the boundaries of national and local government. The War of Independence split opinion, thereby revealing divergent trends within British imperial ideology. Finally, on balance, the American War cultivated a ‘British’ national identity in the town (although there were still other identities present).

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Revolution, America, Liverpool, Warfare, Empire, Gentlemanly Capitalism, Policy-Making, Slavery, Privateering, Economy, National Identity, Ideology
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
E History America > E11 America (General)
Divisions: Humanities & Social Science
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2016 13:34
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 23:26
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00004350
Supervisors: White, Nicholas, Webster, Anthony and Haggerty, Sheryllynne
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/4350
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