Decolonisation and the British Empire, 1775–1997 by George Boyce

By George Boyce

This publication combines an research of the information and rules that ruled the British adventure of decolonization. It exhibits how the British, probably extra competently the English, political culture, with its emphasis on event over summary thought, was once indispensable to the way the empire was once considered as being remodeled instead of misplaced. This used to be an important element of the quite painless British lack of empire. It areas the method of decolonization in its wider context, tracing the twentieth-century family and foreign stipulations that hastened decolonization, and, via an in depth research of not just the coverage offerings but additionally the language of British imperialism, it throws new mild at the British method of dealing with either the growth and contraction of empire.

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29 The Canadian model adopted in 1791 sought to ease the position of governors in Upper and Lower Canada by making them more financially independent, and by creating an upper house nominated by the Crown, to check the more popular lower house. Now that this had failed, it was necessary to think about some modification of a system that was not in itself bad, but had failed to achieve the desired results, of reconciling colonial liberties with imperial control. This need not be a new, radical departure, a break with traditions; and it could arise from the English domestic habit of using contingencies and even contradictions in such a way as to create harmony out of discord.

When Louis Joseph Papineau, the leader of the more radical French Canadians, was elected Speaker in the New Assembly, the Governor, Lord Dalhousie, refused consent. 25 This was a serious dispute with implications for the relations between colony and imperial power: an assembly which claimed to control expenditure and an elected Upp er Chamber (instead of a nominated one) in the assembly was likely to collide with the mother country and perhaps, at worst, provoke another North American crisis for the British Empire.

But the question for the King, and for the British Empire, was whether or not the sovereignty of the King in Parliament could in practice be applied across the Atlantic. 9 The British attempt to raise money from the colonies which were most expensive to defend raised wider constitutional questions. British decisions and colonial responses were not merely decisions and responses; the question asked in Britain was, could the King in Parliament oblige his subjects in America to meet the reasonable demands that the British Empire needed for its security and defence; the question asked in America was, ifthe British state were indeed a unitary one, with American subjects regarded as ordinary British subjects at several removes of distance only, then the whole British system of church and state, king and parliament, laws and ordinances, would shape and mould their political, religious and economic futures in ways that could not yet be foreseen, but must raise anxieties on the head of fundamental liberties.

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