Book Review of Marlborough’s America
Posted by William Young on May 16, 2013
Originally posted on International History:
Stephen Saunders Webb. Marlborough’s America. The Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-Century Culture and History series. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2013. ISBN 378-0-300-17859-3. Illustrations. Maps. Notes. Index. Pp. xxii, 579. $45.00 (hardcover).
Originally posted in H-War Military History Network (May 2013)
Few studies grab one’s attention like this study of the Duke of Marlborough’s political and military career and his influence on the development of British America in the early eighteenth century. Dr Stephen Saunders Webb, Maxwell Professor of History and Social Science and Professor of History Emeritus at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, has already provided The Governor’s General: The English Army and the Definition of Empire, 1569-1681 (1979), 1676: The End of American Independence (1984), and Lord Churchill’s Coup: The Anglo-American Empire and the Glorious Revolution Reconsidered (1995). These provocative studies downplayed the role of commerce and colonial self-government in the making of the British empire, and instead, emphasized the role of governors generals (royal governors) and the military in shaping imperial policy in the development of the Anglo-American empire. Webb has stressed that the English monarchy since the restoration of Charles II controlled the colonies by the appointment of experienced military officers to administer them with the support of military troops or what he calls “garrison government.” He believes that militarized administrations took control of colonial governments by 1676. He goes further in his examination of the Glorious Revolution and stresses that John Churchill (the future Duke of Marlborough) led a Protestant coup d’état against the Catholic James II, joined with William III of Orange and his invasion of England in 1688, and then worked to ensure that Protestant military officers took control of the administration of the British empire. Most importantly, Webb points out that from 1660 to 1727 ninety percent of the royal governors overseas had served in the British army (p.xi).