November 6, 2014 / by admin / American History / No Comments

An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America

An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America

Nick Bunker

Language: English

Pages: 448

ISBN: 030774177X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in History

Written from a strikingly fresh perspective, this new account of the Boston Tea Party and the origins of the American Revolution shows how a lethal blend of politics, personalities, and economics led to a war that few people welcomed but nobody could prevent.  

“A great Empire, like a great Cake, is most easily diminished at the edges,” observed Benjamin Franklin, shortly before the American Revolution. In An Empire on the Edge, British author Nick Bunker delivers a powerful and propulsive narrative of the road to war. At the heart of the book lies the Boston Tea Party, when the British stumbled into an unforeseen crisis that exposed deep flaws in an imperial system sprawling from the Mississippi to Bengal. Shedding new light on the Tea Party’s origins and on the roles of such familiar characters as Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Thomas Hutchinson, and the British ministers Lord North and Lord Dartmouth, Bunker depicts the last three years of deepening anger on both sides of the Atlantic, culminating in the irreversible descent into revolution.

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carefully drawn up in numbered paragraphs to condemn every single component of the Coercive Acts. They included words of warning as strident as Barré’s. To enforce the new laws, the British would need to use military force: a force so large and so expensive that it would bring about “the inevitable ruin of the nation.”16 And that was the final scene in the rearguard campaign by the Rockinghams and their allies. The curtain fell on a performance that had occupied three months of political time.

Secrecy, Feb. 9, 1773, reprinted in Reports from Committees of the House of Commons (1804), vol. 4 (East Indies), pp. 68–69, containing a profit-and-loss account for the China trade for the years 1762–72; and from the same volume, p. 278, an account of shipping costs, in the 5th Report of the same committee, March 30, 1773. 6.   Size of the smuggling trade: Author’s estimate, calculated by taking total Chinese tea exports, given in tables in Dermigny, La Chine et l’Occident, and then deducting

Far from being exhausted or inert, the British were exactly the reverse, an energetic but reckless nation, eager to explore every opportunity for profit. In about 1760, suddenly the pulse of economic life in the British Isles began to accelerate. With hindsight, we can see that this was so more clearly than anyone could in the eighteenth century. New roads, new mines, and new canals, and scores of patents, filed for new inventions: we can make lists, draw lines on a graph, and show how the

and the articles appeared when Parliament was on holiday and the London social season had yet to begin. And so the articles merely came and went without raising more than a laugh. The publication of the Hutchinson letters was quite another matter. This did excite genuine anger in the government and convinced it that Franklin had become an enemy in league with the worst elements in New England. The early death of a colleague as competent as Thomas Whately had left his friends distraught, and they

the more deeply felt because of the way the tea scheme had been organized. By now the East India Company had appointed local merchants to act as its consignees in each American port. They swiftly became targets of derision, easily portrayed as villains in league with avaricious financiers and the tyrannical Lord North. In New York, for example, the consignee Abraham Lott doubled as the colony’s tax collector; a colleague, Henry White, sat on the council that advised Governor Tryon; and a third

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