Together with the Vere Harmsworth Library, we have organised a trial to America and Great Britain: diplomatic relations, 1775-1815. Oxford readers can access it via SOLO or OxLIP+.
This resource is the digitised Cambridge Archive Edition 9-volume set of facsimile British diplomatic primary material, charting the emergence of an independent United States and comprising diplomatic correspondence between America and Britain.
It provides access to diplomatic and official correspondence between America and Britain and gives a good insight into the shaping of a nation, from America being referred to as ‘our Colonies and Plantations in North America’ by the King, to its recognition as the ‘United States’ by Britain in 1782.
The correspondence is formed of diplomatic letters between the British Government and American officials including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, James Madison, John Jay and John Hancock. The collection begins with a résumé of events centered around American protests over taxation, follows the course of the War of Independence, and concludes, after ratification of the Treaty of Ghent in February 1815, with the restoration of normal diplomatic relations.Together these correspondences form a narrative which not only captures major historical events from a contemporary viewpoint, but also provides a vivid, lively and uniquely personal insight into the creators of modern America.
Transcript: “All that the americans want from Europeans is a supply of European manufactures… ” America and Great Britain : diplomatic relations, 1775-1815. British government documents. Volume 3. 1783-1791 (Cambridge, 2016), p.344
The archive is a valuable tool in understanding an era of modernization in diplomatic practises. With the expansion of the British Foreign Office, there was a movement away from the era of the aristocratic amateur towards a more tightly controlled process, where professionalised servants of the British Crown filed regular despatches from across the world to a rigid procedure. The collection also provides an insight into European politics during this period. Conflicts between America, France and Britain arising over trade, defence and diplomacy are explored and increase our understanding of this complex trans-Atlantic triumvirate.
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