An Age of Atlantic Revolutions

An Age of Atlantic Revolutions
American Colonies
The revolutionary era in America,
1. British North America: The American
2. French St. Domingue: The Haitian Revolution,
1790-1804: the end of slavery and the first
black republic.
3. Spanish America: Rebellions, War and
Independence in Mexico and South America,
• Linkages and associations? The concepts of
‘Democratic’ and ‘Atlantic Revolution’: Palmer and
• Repercussions? Turning point in Americas’ history
– Dissolution of empires from California to Cape Horn by
separation from European rule: few remnants left.
– Political independence and economic freedom
– Americas as the new political and economic frontier
International Contexts
• Origins of Revolutions in Americas: crisis in colonial
relations with European wars, related to international
• Decline of Spain and growth of French and British
empires in America: trade and population expansion in
the West.
• Character of international wars in 18th century: coupled
with competition for overseas empire, esp. France, Spain
and Britain.
• Atlantic expansion and tendency of European Wars to
‘globalise’. Americas became major theatre.
• Impact of inter-imperialist competition in Americas:
economic growth; more communication and exchange;
increase in political tensions.
The American Revolution
Origins of conflict: the Seven
Years’ War and expulsion of
‘no taxation without
representation’ and
Parliamentary despotism
Source of ideas: defence of
traditional British ‘liberties’ +
Tom Paine.
Comitees of correspondence
Nationalism? Provincial
Unity? from Continental
Congress to United States of
Democracy? From republican
monarchy to monarchical
New rights for everybody?
The laboratory of republicanism
Native Americans
The federal constitution of 1787
The French Colony of
France in America post-1763: the
Caribbean minus Canada
War of American Revolution and
Crisis in Paris in 1789: onset of
French Revolution
Slave colony: Saint Domingue
The wealthiest in the world
The Haitian Revolution
Repercussions of French Revolution:
escalation of crisis from divisions in
elite to slave insurgency
French abolitionism
1789: the revolt of white elites
1790: the revolt of free people of
1791: the slave insurrection
Foreign intervention exacerbates crisis
Slave revolution? Toussaint’s
compromise and Napoleon’s
From social rebellion to revolution for
Political transformation and social
revolution: the end of slavery
Reception in the United States
Spanish American Revolutions:
• Spain’s revival under the Bourbons
• Reform and rebellion: Quito (1765), Comuneros
(1781), Túpac Amaru (1780-2)
• American critiques of Spain: ‘Creole patriotism’
and the Enlightenment.
• Impact of American French, and Haitian
Revolutions: 1790s conspiracies and their
• The French Revolution and Spain: ‘decapitation’
of the state 1808-1810 and political revolution in
Spain: towards constitutional monarchy.
Spanish America: revolutions and
Imitating Spain:1810
Restive elites and delegated
sovereignty: the juntas, autonomy
and independence.
Cadiz Constitution and the defeat
of insurgency
Revolution from above, 1821.
Defining the patria: Regional
conflicts and confederations
Revolution defeated: Spanish
restoration and re-conquest 18141825
Militarization of the revolution:
Wars of liberation under Bolívar
and San Martin.
• Simon Bolivar
• International Contexts: revolutions all related to
international wars.
• Ideological Contexts and Linkages: Democratic
revolutions? Influence of Enlightenment attack on
privilege, and growth of anti-monarchical and republican
• Ambiguities of pre-revolutionary Enlightenment;
enlightened ideas for revolutionary legitimation.
• Importance of distinctive political cultures: American
Revolution ‘born democratic’ in British political culture;
Haitian Revolution drew on French Revolution; Spanish
American revolutions combine modern doctrines of rights
of man from both, but also draw on Spanish traditions of
political thought.
Circulations and connections
Circulation of ideas : sovereignty,
republicanism, citizenship
Circulations and connections
Circulation of people: diplomats, refugees,
merchants, privateers, runaway slaves
Thomas Paine
Francisco de Miranda
• Nationalist Revolutions? Expressions of nascent national
identities? First nationalist revolutions or ‘imagined
communities’? (role of print in North American and
Spanish America).
• Social revolutions driven by class and ethnic conflicts? –
popular grievances drawn in and drove revolutions
• Revolutions share origins in erosion of political
legitimacy of old regimes: in British America, driven by
metropolitan aggression; in French and Spanish America
based on collapse at the centre.
• Outcomes: US Republic; Haitian ‘republic of bayonets’;
Spanish American tendency towards oligarchies and
limited participation in politics.