Hubs of Empire: Outside of ‘The Narrative’

Dr. Matthew Mulcahy of Loyola University Maryland points out in Hubs of Empire: The Southeastern Lowcountry and British Caribbean (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014) that the colonial Lower South has generally been seen as “too distinct” to fit into the mainstream American historical narrative. He argues that “there are good reasons… for thinking about the Lowcountry and the islands as part of a broader region, the Greater Caribbean.” He presents a Golden Circle narrative which challenges the New England-centric (and anti-Southern) perspective of American history:

[T]his book makes an argument for considering the British plantation colonies in the Caribbean – particularly the major islands of Barbados, Jamaica, Antigua, St. Christopher, Nevis, and Montserrat – and the Carolina and Georgia Lowcountry – a coastal zone stretching from the Cape Fear River to the Altamaha River in Georgia and inland roughly fifty miles – as a distinct region, the British Greater Caribbean. These colonies do not loom large in the historical imaginations of many Americans. The phrase “colonial America” is more likely to call forth images of Boston, Salem, or Williamsburg in the minds of most Americans rather than the sugar plantations in Antigua or the governor’s mansion in Spanish Town, Jamaica. One reason is that the island colonies did not join their mainland counterparts in the revolution against British rule in 1776. As a result, they are often ignored or marginalized in textbooks and courses dealing with the colonies that eventually formed the United States. Similarly, the Carolina-Georgia Lowcountry, with an economy focused on rice production and a majority population of enslaved Africans, has long been viewed as a place apart from the other mainland colonies. Its history and experiences often seemed too different, too distinct to fit into larger narratives concerning “the thirteen colonies” as anything other than exceptions.

Dr. Mulcahy continues, pointing out that the old New England-centric narrative is no longer completely without competition:

U.S. historians increasingly have recognized that the boundaries of colonial British America extended beyond the North American mainland, and several have highlighted links between the islands and the Lowcountry in particular. Nevertheless, few scholars consider these colonies as forming a coherent region akin to the more familiar groupings of New England, the Chesapeake, or the Middle Colonies.

The author then goes on to explain how the British plantation complex developed in Barbados, was taken to Carolina and then spread throughout the South.

Mulcahy draws many of the same conclusions we have in numerous previous articles on Occidental Dissent and in my book Our Southern Nation: Its Origin and Future about the Golden Circle and the planation South:

  • Restores an older perspective of American history which was largely erased from public mind after Lincoln’s conquest of Dixie.
  • Underscores that there were more than 13 British American colonies.
  • Places the South “at the center of analysis, rather than at the periphery.”
  • “Helps render both the Lowcountry and the islands less anomalous within the larger context of colonial British America.”
  • And “highlights the diverse influences that shaped the development of colonial British America, and in the longer term, the development of the United States.”

This then is essentially a Southern Nationalist text even if the author did not mean for it to be. It represents the power of our historical perspectives to re-enter the mainstreamin and challenge anti-Southern narratives and raise consciousness within our people.

About Palmetto Patriot 242 Articles
South Carolinian. Southern Nationalist. Anglican.

18 Comments

  1. A thought while reading this column: could the extreme Puritan ‘Pocahontas John Smith’ New England mythos about America’s founding, be also based on the fact that even the New Englanders didn’t want to acknowledge the Negroes in any fashion, as intimately involved with the founding of this nation?

    I mean, later on -when the Calvinists became Unitarians, and a new religious ‘god’ needed to be found – abolitionists elevated the ‘magical Negro’to that position, as the blog writer ‘Cambria will not yield,’ has so often noted.

    But earlier, the New Englanders (as well as the gentry of the Low country) never once considered the nonwhite to be part of this new nation.

    Just a thought…

  2. You are beating a dead horse by ignoring the British Mercantile System. Anything that the planters, like George Washington wanted, had to come by way of British factors, in British ships, with taxes paid to Britain. That’s the way it was bucko.

    • It tended to be a good system for farmers and plantation owners. Many of whom were loyalists. Tarleton’s Dragoons were mostly landowners in the South.

      It was a bad system for ‘mechanics’ mostly clustered in the poor soil up north. Very few loyalists around New England. Because their soil was poor they were making ends meet as manufacturers.

      Neutral policy for ship owners.

  3. What annoys me is how the historical narrative focuses almost exclusively on the northeast’s part in the Revolutionary War while virtually ignoring the role the South played in that conflict, esp. after the British failed to secure the Hudson River in 1777. From that point on most of the fighting took place in the South.

    • The Southern White man has been JEWED SCREWED and TATTOOED in the UNITED STATES since Day 1 but he had no real choice. Here was why

      When the American Revolution broke out, many Southern leaders led by the likes of Thomas Jefferson and others believed that the South had to join the New England conflict while other Southrons said no it was New England’s fight, let New England pay the price. The reason VIRGINIA supported New England so strongly was two reasons. One the Virginia Colonial Charter gave Virginia everything from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. The British began abrogating Virginia’s Charter when it instituted the Quebec Act in 1774 which took the Ohio Country away from Virginia. The British also said that the Scots Irish settlers from Pennsylvania and Virginia were violating British treaties with the Shawnee by pushing into Kentucky and Trans-Allegheny Virginia. There seemed to have been some disagreement among the British about jurisdiction below the Ohio. Lord Dunmore took armies from Virginia into the Trans-Allegheny to push the Shawnee back above the Ohio. This confusion over jurisdiction seemed not to have been quite solved by the Revolution because once the Revolution was declared, Britain instructed the Shawnee to invade Kentucky and Virginia.

      • Virginia thus found itself between a rock and a hard place, Either side with hostile Yankees or side with the British who had in effect voided Virginia’s colonial charter. Washington and others chose the Yankees and the rest is history. Of course Lord Dunmore’s emancipation of the Virginia slaves helped make this decision as Dunmore promised that Black men would be equal to White men once Virginia was subdued. I personally believe that the British would have given the Negroes full Civil Rights had they been victorious and we would have been completely screwed.

        Let’s venture into Alternate History. Say London had voided Lord Dunmore’s proclamation following the war with America after England won. The South would have had a few more decades of peace as New England would have been a brutal police state under Royal edict. However once Wilberforce’s crew managed to get Emancipation through in 1833 Slavery would have been finished without a fight, Then they would have begun importing Subcontinent Indians and today Dixie would look like Trinidad and Tobago or Guyana

        • The Yankees were the better choice overall BUT it wasn’t an easy relationship as it wasn’t long before the South made concessions such as Virginia allowing Jefferson who sided with the Yankees at first in their plan to Emancipate the Slaves. Jefferson and Madison considered Negroes PERSONS and Madison wrote them as such in the Constitution even though under the Common Law Persons are EQUAL in every way. White and Negro. Jefferson tried to have it both ways, the Negro became a Person OF SORTS somehow exempt from the Common Law but also Property at the same time. Madison’s great error in the Transatlantic Slave clause wasn’t corrected until the Dred Scott Decision in 1857, the CSA constitution defines slaves strictly as property. Judge Taney rightly declared one cannot be both a Person and Property they are either one or the other.

          The Confederacy faced alot of WHAT IF’s as well. Britain and France practiced full racial equality, yet they needed British and French Trade and some Wealthy Southern families and children desired British educations. Could the South have kept out the British social Influence while at the same time taking their money? That would have taken a complete change in government as the CSA Constitution was much too weak and it allowed for Freedom of Speech and the Press. The South would have had to become a Religious Police State where Christianity was mandatory and White women were in a sense STRIPPED of all Human rights in effect making them our property if it meant to maintain every aspect of the culture. Before the 19th Amendment women had already attained voting rights in many Southern states.

          • This is the conundrum we face. Only a dictatorship/police state will give us exactly what we want, yet it goes against our sense of desiring freedom. There are plenty of females who support Southern Nationalist beliefs, but would as soon cut your throat if you wished to institute a bullet proof Christian Patriarchy. The question is how do we get there from here? Its very obvious that for any future, women will have to be in effect enslaved. However saying such a thing in a sense is way too harsh. The question is where do we draw the lines in the society we all desire?

    • As a boy, I thought George Washington was from Vermont and that Yorktown was in Massachusetts or Connecticut.

  4. The phrase “colonial America” is more likely to call forth images of Boston, Salem, or Williamsburg in the minds of most Americans.

    Nothing south of Pennsylvania. As far as contemporary American History is concerned, the South didn’t exist until 1861, when it became an existential threat to the North.

    • Williamsburg is south of Pennsylvania, James–unless that means Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

  5. “Places the South “at the center of analysis, rather than at the periphery.”

    My teachers in elementary and middle school certainly did. I’d add that Spanish settlement in Carolina, Florida and the Gulf Coast, and coterminous French settlement, even further tied the South to the Caribbean and Golden Circle.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Founding Greater Caribbean – Occidental Dissent
  2. Review: Hubs of Empire – Occidental Dissent

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