James Vaughn: Envisioning Empire

British empire in America

Envisioning Empire: The New British World from 1763 to 1773

Edited by James Vaughn and Robert Olwell


Envisioning EmpireExamining the pivotal period between the end of the Seven Years’ War and the dawn of the American Revolution, Envisioning Empire reinterprets the development of the British Empire in the 18th century. With exceptional geographical scope, this book provides new ways of understanding the actors and events in many imperial arenas, including West Africa, North America, the Caribbean, and South Asia.

While 1763 has long been seen as marking a turning point in British and British-colonial history, Envisioning Empire treats this epochal year, and the decade that followed, as constituting a discrete ‘moment’ in Imperial history that is significant in its own right. Exploring the programs and plans that sought to incorporate the vast new territories and millions of new subjects into the British state and imperial system, it demonstrates how the period between the end of the Seven Years’ War and the beginning of the American Revolution was one of contested ideas about the future of British overseas expansion. By examining these competing imperial visions and designs from the perspective of Britain’s new subjects as well as from that of British ministers, Envisioning Empire both illuminates and complicates the boundaries that have been drawn between the first and second British empires and reveals how the Empire was being conceived, discussed, and debated during an era of rapid transformation.

JMC fellow James Vaughn has contributed the chapter entitled “The Ideological Origins of Illiberal Imperialism: Metropolitan Politics and the Post-1763 Transformation of the British Empire.”

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James VaughnJames Vaughn is the JMC-Thomas W. Smith Postdoctoral Fellow (2019–2021) at George Washington Forum at Ohio University. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and his B.A. from Cornell University. He taught at the University of Texas at Austin and held a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University. His first book, The Politics of Empire at the Accession of George III (Yale, 2019), provides a revisionist account of British imperial expansion and politics during the eighteenth century. Another book, The East India Company and the English Revolution, c. 1640–1714 (Primus), will be out next year. As a postdoctoral fellow, he will be completing a new book, A Very British Revolution, which reexamines and reinterprets the Atlantic Age of Revolution and the origins of liberal democracy.

Professor Vaughn is a JMC postdoctoral fellow.

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