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Past and ProloguePolitics and Memory in the American Revolution$
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Michael D. Hattem

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780300234961

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300234961.001.0001

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The Colonial Past in the Imperial Crisis

The Colonial Past in the Imperial Crisis

(p.56) Chapter Two The Colonial Past in the Imperial Crisis
Past and Prologue

Michael D. Hattem

Yale University Press

This chapter examines the explosion of historical writing that took place in the political literature of the imperial crisis. In their political rhetoric, patriots began creating a newly shared colonial past, particularly by forging a new historical memory of their colonial origins. This newly shared past contributed to both colonists’ sense of themselves as part of a community with their fellow colonies and their sense of cultural difference with Britain. It then shows how colonists’ cultural reverence for the authority of the past shaped the ways in which they understood the actions of Parliament and the rhetoric of its supporters, whereas British actions and rhetoric were based largely on the exigencies of the present. These different conceptions of the relationship between the past and present, I argue, contributed greatly to the intractability of the debate and colonists’ emerging sense of cultural difference with Britain.

Keywords:   colonial America, American Revolution, British Empire, historical memory, identity

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