The United States in the British Empire *
The early American republic remained embedded in the structures of the British Empire long after the achievement of its political independence in 1783. The nationalism of “postcolonial America,” as recent scholarship has called it, owed much to the on-going struggle to consolidate independence from an increasingly powerful and global British Empire. The best means of loosening Britain’s economic grip over the new republic triggered great social and political conflict. Furthermore, Britain intensified the sectional conflict over slavery that would lead to civil war, both by increasing Southern insecurity through its anti-slavery position and by offering a market and potential alternative political alliance to the cotton producing states of the Deep South. Yet, paradoxically, Britain’s persistent influence and its global pre-eminence played an important role in the consolidation and expansion of the United States.
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