Title Reviewed:
Anglo-American Political Relations, 1675-1775

Author Reviewed:
Alison Gilbert Olson; Richard Maxwell Brown

Jack M. Sosin


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 67, Issue 1, pp 78-79

Article Type:
Book Review

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Anglo-American Political Relations, 1675-1775. Edited by Alison Gilbert Olson and Richard Maxwell Brown. (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1970. Pp. x, 283. Notes, index. $10.00.)

This collection of scholarly articles is an outgrowth of the Twentieth Conference on Early American History held at Rutgers University in October, 1966, at which time Richard S. Dunn, Stanley N. Katz, David Alan Williams, and Richael Kammen delivered papers, here published, on the theme of Anglo-colonial political relations in the century preceding the American Revolution. For the purpose of this volume the editors solicited additional articles from David S. Lovejoy, Thomas C. Barrow, and John Shy and a bibliographical essay by Joseph E. Illick. The editors themselves contributed introductory essays: Olson summarizes the studies and points out future lines of inquiry while Brown places them within a behavioral, analytical framework. The essays by Kammen, Dunn, Katz, and Barrow have been preempted by their subsequent fuller publications, either in book or article form. In themselves the contributions by the other authors are valuable for their particular content. The bibliographical piece by Illick shows an admirable grasp of the recent literature, but given the limitations of space it cannot do justice to the monographs discussed. It is nonetheless a good introduction for students who wish to delve further into the field. In her introductory essay Professor Olson is perhaps too quick to accept conclusions from limited evidence and study. Citing the work of Katz to the effect that the Duke of Newcastle's appointments in New York were "abysmal" she suggests that a comparison of his appointees with those of the Marquis of Halifax, usually considered a superb administrator, would show that there was little difference between the governors nominated by the two ministers. But surely this is too limited a sample. Moreover whatever the quality of Newcastle's appointments for New York, what of William Shirley for Massachusetts and others?

Taken together these essays implicitly attack the notion that for most of the century there were American as distinct from imperial or English interests and that colonial political developments were institutional or ideological, occurring within the local rather than the imperial framework. They demonstrate further the extent to which American politicians sought to use English connections to advance their particular interests. In this respect the studies diverge from the imperial "school" which sees a pattern in the rise of the provincial legislatures at the expense of imperial and executive authority. Olson attempts to bridge this gap, but this reviewer is not convinced that there did indeed develop in England during the last two decades preceding the American Revolution pressure groups which reduced the chances for compromise and accommodation, or that separate English and American interest groups self-consciously began to develop by the middle of the century and so broke down the Anglo-colonial connection. The research done by Katz on the period before the outset of the Seven Years' War indeed goes far to confirm such a connection, but it can hardly be used to sustain an argument for developments after 1753. Nor does the work of Kammen on the years after 1755, published here and elsewhere, sustain the thesis as the operations of a host of agents, land speculators, office seekers, and merchants testify.

University of Nebraska, Lincoln Jack M. Sosin

Published by theĀ Indiana University Department of History.