A joint project of the Graduate School, Peabody College, and the Jean & Alexander Heard Library

Title page for ETD etd-07162013-010207

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Vanzant, Kevin Singletary
Author's Email Address kevin.s.vanzant@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-07162013-010207
Title "We Sweat and Toil": Self-Interest, Labor, and the Power of the People in early American Politics, 1607-1689
Degree PhD
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Daniel H. Usner, Jr. Committee Chair
Catherine Molineux Committee Member
Dana D. Nelson Committee Member
Jane Landers Committee Member
  • English Atlantic World
  • Early America
Date of Defense 2013-07-03
Availability unrestricted
This dissertation examines political thought in the English colonies during the seventeenth century and investigates the role played by empire in the colonists' demands for political rights. Much of the existing scholarship on early North American politics has employed a reactionary paradigm, emphasizing the colonists' struggles to secure their English rights within an increasingly intrusive empire. This dissertation argues that this approach, which was first developed in studies of colonial politics during the eighteenth century, overlooks the dynamic relationship between center and periphery that existed in early decades of English settlements. During the seventeenth century, there was a wide-ranging colonial literature that advertised the New World to an English audience and tackled the many anxieties that accompanied a transatlantic migration. In their efforts to attract migrants in sufficient numbers, these promotional tracts catered to the aspirations of potential settlers and reflected the widespread hope of individual improvement among the migratory population. Within the broader context of this colonial literature, the political demands of the colonists become progressive, not conservative, as they sought to secure the promised political empowerment that had accompanied their decision to migrate. For many colonists, the empire was a possible pathway to new liberties, not a threat to rights previously possessed. By the end of the seventeenth century, this dissertation argues that a liberal and radically populist understanding of empire had fully emerged in the colonial literature, which would become the primary language of justification for the colonists in their pursuit of increased political power in America. By integrating the efforts of colonists to create a self-serving definition of empire, this dissertation offers a more complex and dynamic understanding of politics and empire in seventeenth century North America.
  Filename       Size       Approximate Download Time (Hours:Minutes:Seconds) 
 28.8 Modem   56K Modem   ISDN (64 Kb)   ISDN (128 Kb)   Higher-speed Access 
  Vanzant.pdf 1.93 Mb 00:08:56 00:04:35 00:04:01 00:02:00 00:00:10

Browse All Available ETDs by ( Author | Department )

If you have more questions or technical problems, please Contact LITS.