The New Laboratory for Empire: Quebec and the Reformulation of British Imperial Practice, 1760-1775

Type of resource
Author/collaborator
Title
The New Laboratory for Empire: Quebec and the Reformulation of British Imperial Practice, 1760-1775
Abstract
At the conclusion of the Seven Years War in 1760, Britain found itself in control of a vast new territory in North America containing 70,000 formerly French subjects. The author explains that the local crises which erupted within Quebec and those in London over plans to govern the new colony helped to shape emerging attitudes to heterogeneity in an expanding empire. The Quebec Act (1774), which sought to settle the governance of the colony after almost a decade and a half of instability and uncertainty, was in many ways revolutionary. Controversially, in the context of contemporary debates and attitudes, the bill granted broad toleration to the Catholic Church. The bill maintained French civil law, while instituting English criminal law. The author argues that the principles underlying the Quebec Act challenged and upended the predominant British understanding and practice of empire. Over the course of more than ten years British officials considered a multitude of reports, addresses, communications, and other streams of information in order to come to terms with their new imperial territory. In the face of a number of difficult questions posed by the new peoples and territories ceded to Britain in the Treaty of Paris (1763), British imperial administrators relied on evidence to formulate a policy to reform the governance of Quebec. Quebec, the author argues, was a laboratory for new practices of empire that drastically differed from that which came before. The process of incorporating Quebec into the British Empire explains future practice both in its particulars and in the nature of its making. He points out that Quebec fostered a change in attitude towards pluralism in the forms of civil governance, and cultural values; opening new possibilities for imperial governance. In responding to the attacks of those wedded to older notions of empire and the constitution British officials developed a historical, intellectual, and legal case for policies of cultural continuity. In their three pronged approach advocates for the strategies developed in Quebec laid the foundation for a new set of practices that would define British rule over India, Africa, and beyond.
Type
PhD dissertation
University
University of Notre Dame
Place
South Bend, IN
Date
2015
Language
en
URL
Citation
Willis, Aaron Lukefahr. “The New Laboratory for Empire: Quebec and the Reformulation of British Imperial Practice, 1760-1775.” PhD dissertation, University of Notre Dame, 2015. https://curate.nd.edu/downloads/q811kh06s3c.
Find in a library
Permalink