Andrew O’Shaughnessy argues that the drive to centralize control over its growing empire led Britain to adopt authoritarian policies to govern its American colonies and was one of the main causes of the American Revolution. Britain’s North American colonists resisted and ultimately rebelled to avoid the fate of Irish, a people denied the rights enjoyed by Englishmen. Colonial opposition to the aggressive centralization of power was widespread, but the colonists who relied on the Royal Navy for protection—particularly the island colonies in the West Indies—did not follow the colonists on the mainland into resistance and revolution.
About the Speaker
Andrew O’Shaughnessy is the director of the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello and the author of An Empire Divided: The American Revolution and the British Caribbean (2000), co-editor of Old World, New World. America and Europe in the Age of Jefferson (2010), and the author of The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution and the Fate of the Empire (2013). The British Empire and the Causes of the American Revolution was the 2016 George Rogers Clark Lecture.