Advertisement

Informal and Formal Empires in the Americas

  • Barry Gough
Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)

Abstract

It was in the Americas that a repositioning of power took place during the first few decades of Pax Britannica. The British consolidated their authority in British North America, aided, as we have seen, by the development of Bermuda as a naval base, which supplemented their old anchors of empire at such places as Antigua and Barbados. There existed some nagging possibility that France would make an ill-judged attempt to reassert influence in the Americas. However, it was the ascendant United States that posed the certain rival to the British. Successive presidents and secretaries of state were anxious to assert their dominance in the Americas, even announcing, as President James Monroe did in 1823, the Monroe Doctrine. This was designed as a warning to European powers against asserting territorial claims. British naval power allowed such a declaration. The British, however, were not prepared to concede that a mere paper declaration sufficed, and in their formal as in their informal empires they continued to strengthen their positions, particularly in the Americas. As late as 1850 they still held to the ancient policy that they reserved the rights over any future isthmian canal, and entered into a treaty with the United States on that score.1 It was not until after the Spanish-American War that Britain was able to accede to Washington’s view that the Caribbean had ceased to be a British lake and had become a central point of American strategic thinking.

Keywords

Falkland Island Formal Empire British Merchant Home Island British Interest 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 2.
    Jerry Bannister, The Rule of the Admirals: Law, Custom, and Naval Government in Newfoundland, 1699–1832 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Herman Merivale, Lectures on Colonization and Colonies (2nd ed. London: Longman, Green, Longman and Roberts, 1861), vi–vii.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Paul Knaplund, James Stephen and the British Colonial System, 1813–1847 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1953), 91–93.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    A. G. L. Shaw, ed., Great Britain and the Colonies, 1815–1865 (London: Methuen, 1970), 2.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    John Gallagher and R.E. Robinson, “The Imperialism of Free Trade”, Economic History Review, 2nd series, 6 (1953), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 7.
    Albert H. Imlah, Economic Elements in the “Pax Britannica” (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1958), 186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 8.
    Paul Kennedy, The Rise of Anglo-German Antagonism, 1860–1914 (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1982), 5.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    J. Blankett to E. Nepean, 25 January 1795, in Vincent Harlow and Frederick Madden, eds., British Colonial Developments, 1774–1834: Select Documents (Oxford: Clarendon, 1953), 19–21.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    See the important Abraham P. Nasatir and Gary Elwyn Monell, comps., British Activities in California and the Pacific Coast of North America to 1860: An Archival Guide (San Diego: San Diego State University Press, 1990).Google Scholar
  10. 13.
    Robert Erwin Johnson, Thence Round Cape Horn: The Story of United States Forces on Pacific Station, 1818–1923 (Annapolis: United States Naval Institute, 1963), 1, 6, 79.Google Scholar
  11. 14.
    T. Jefferson to T. Leiper, June 1815, in Dorothy K. Coveney and W.H. Mendlicott, eds., The Lion’s Tail: An Anthology of Criticism and Abuse (London: Constable, 1971), 177.Google Scholar
  12. 16.
    Barry Gough, Fighting Sail on Lake Huron and Georgian Bay: The War of 1812 and Its Aftermath (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2002), 122–36.Google Scholar
  13. 17.
    George Raudzens, The British Ordnance Department and Canada’s Canals, 1815–1855 (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1979).Google Scholar
  14. 18.
    Regis A. Courtemanche, No Need of Glory: The British Navy in American Waters, 1860–1864 (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1977) for discussion. See especially 175.Google Scholar
  15. 19.
    R. A. Humphreys, ed., British Consular Reports on the Trade and Politics of Latin America, 1824–1826 (London: Camden Society, 1940), viii–ix.Google Scholar
  16. For further particulars, see D.C.M. Platt, Finance, Trade and Politics in British Foreign Policy, 1815–1914 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1968), 322–23.Google Scholar
  17. Principal: in-letters to the Admiralty are printed in Gerald S. Graham and R.A. Humphreys, eds., The Navy and South America, 1807–1823: Correspondence of the Commanders-in-Chief on the South American Station (London: Navy Records Society, 1962).Google Scholar
  18. 20.
    Michael Barratt Brown, The Economics of Imperialism (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974), 170.Google Scholar
  19. 21.
    Quoted in Dexter Perkins, The Monroe Doctrine, 1823–1826 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1932), 154.Google Scholar
  20. 22.
    Charles K. Webster, Britain and the Independence of Latin America (2 vols. London, Oxford University Press, 1938), 1: 11.Google Scholar
  21. 23.
    Quoted in Neville Thompson, Earl Bathurst and the British Empire (Barnsley: Leo Cooper, 1999), 147.Google Scholar
  22. 25.
    Rudy Bauss, “Río de Janeiro: Strategic Base for the Global Designs of the British Royal Navy, 1777–1815”, in Craig L. Symonds, ed., New Aspects of Naval History (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1981), 75–89.Google Scholar
  23. 27.
    Brian Vale, Independence or Death! British Sailors and Brazilian Independence, 1822–25 (London: Tauris, 1996).Google Scholar
  24. 31.
    Platt, Finance, Trade and Politics, 322–23; John F. Cady, Foreign Interventions in the Río de la Plata, 1838–50 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1929);Google Scholar
  25. and Henry S. Ferns, Britain and Argentina in the Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon, 1960).Google Scholar
  26. 34.
    Barry Gough, The Falkland Islands/Malvinas: The Contest for Empire in the South Atlantic (London: Athlone, 1992). Despite my heroic attempts to write a neutral history of this subject, I discovered that my reviewers were invariably inspired by anti-imperial motives. I learned how difficult must have been Sisyphus’s calling.Google Scholar
  27. 37.
    A.J. Coles to B. Gough, 2 July 1982, author’s files. The modern account may be followed in Lawrence Freedman, The Official History of the Falklands Campaign (2 vols. London: Routledge, 2005), and a review of the same by Bernard Porter, “Palmerstonian,” London Review of Books, 20 October 2005.Google Scholar
  28. 38.
    David Cordingly, Cochrane: The Real Master and Commander (London: Bloomsbury, 2007);Google Scholar
  29. Brian Vale, The Audacious Admiral Cochrane: The True Life of a Naval Legend (London: Conway, 2004).Google Scholar
  30. 40.
    Jorge Ortiz-Sotelo, “Peru and the British Naval Station (1808–1839)”, PhD thesis, University of St Andrews, 1993.Google Scholar
  31. 41.
    All particulars of these regulations, which changed over time, are set forth in Barry Gough, “Specie Conveyance from the West Coast of Mexico in British Warships c. 1820–1870: An Aspect of the Pax Britannica”, Mariner’s Mirror, 69, 4 (November 1983): 419–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 46.
    For sources, see Barry Gough, “HMS America on the North Pacific Coast”, Oregon Historical Quarterly, 70, 4 (December 1969): 292–311.Google Scholar
  33. 50.
    A.E. Ekoko, “British Naval Policy in the South Atlantic,” Mariner’s Mirror, 66 (1980): 209–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 52.
    For further discussion, see Barry Gough, “Profit and Power: Informal Empire, the Navy and Latin America”, in Raymond E. Dumett, ed., Gentlemanly Capitalism and British Imperialism: The New Debate on Empire (London: Longman, 1999), 69–81.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Barry Gough 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Gough

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations