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The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction Paperback – April 12, 1988
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
-- Esmond Wright, The New York Times Book Review
"With a spare and delicate genius, [Bailyn] sketch[es] out the fiendishly complex essentials of a world where 'everything seems strange close up.'... Bernard Bailyn's work has the grandeur of a Braudel and the humanity of a Michelet. And he's got to the roots."
-- Gwyn A. Williams, The Guardian
Top Customer Reviews
Surely one of the most important studies of the vast movement of immigrants to the New World is Bernard Bailyn's The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction. In a nuanced thesis regarding the motivations for promoting movement of large numbers of people to the American wilderness, he also shows how long-held traditions with regard to land ownership and tenantry were transformed in America, due largely to the new environment. Bailyn argues that after the "initial phase of colonization, the major stimuli to population recruitment and settlement were...the continuing need for labor, and...land speculation." The land speculation of the 17th and 18th centuries, Bailyn argues, "shaped a relationship between the [land] owners and the workers of the land different from that which prevailed in Europe." (60) Bailyn writes that land speculation was common in America among all classes of men, "a major preoccupation of ambitious people...launched as a universal business." (67) But with all of this pervasive land accumulation came an indispensable caveat; speculators needed settlers to populate the land they claimed, so that an owner could rent or sell his property. "Land speculation was, and remained, boundless, ubiquitous," (74) writes Bailyn, who goes on to describe the various schemes and methods speculators used "to people the land they claimed." (69) Yet as Bailyn points also out, long-held, customary tenancy relationships that British landowners were used to were not adaptable to America. Instead, new methods were needed to attract settlers and clear the land, so that property in the trackless wilderness would become useable, and as a result, valuable.Read more ›
Understand that this is a short book. It should only take about a couple of hours (maybe less) to read. "Voyagers to the West" runs about 800 pgs, so you'd probably want to read this before that, just to make sure this is what you are interested in.
Bailyn uses four "propositions" to frame the themes of his lectures. The propositions boil down to the idea that the received wisdom we have about the peopling of the British colonies in America is wrong and that the process was more complex then we thought. I would refer those unfamiliar with this approach (that of framing "propostions" for historical inquiry), to the work of the Annales school in France (Marc Bloch, Phillipe Aries, etc).
Fans of David Hackett Fischer's "Albion's Seed" will want to check this one out.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fascinating look at migration to British North America in the 17th and 18th Centuries. You really get an idea of where people came from and why they migrated or how they ended up... Read morePublished 3 months ago by ESM517
If your family came from Great Britain, you must read this book to understand how the attitudes in the colonies developed. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Hobbit
Clever and very well written, this book opens up ones eyes to the realities and the facts of life of the early colonial periodPublished 20 months ago by Leonard Z.