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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 British Past in the Imperial Crisis

The British Past in the Imperial Crisis

(p.95) Chapter Three The British Past in the Imperial Crisis
Past and Prologue

Michael D. Hattem

Yale University Press

This chapter explores the use of the British past in the political writings of the imperial crisis. Primarily, it explores how colonists’ interpretations of the Glorious Revolution changed during the crisis and how their new understanding of that event helped shape patriot rhetoric after 1767. Having previously served as the foundation of their identities as British subjects, patriots came to understand the Glorious Revolution not as having restored the balance of the “ancient constitution” but as having given rise to the doctrine of “parliamentary supremacy,” which allowed Parliament, in colonists’ minds, to exert absolute authority over the colonies and act as arbitrarily as any seventeenth-century Stuart monarch. This fundamental shift in their historical understanding brought colonists’ cultural relationship to the Glorious Revolution, and hence the British past, into question and resulted in the turn toward more universal arguments based on natural law after 1773.

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

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