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The North American Colonies and the British Empire

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Arrival of the Englishemen   America
'arriual of the Englishment in Virginia', William Strachey, Travels Through Virginia, illustrated by Theodor de Bry [Sloane, 1622, f.71]
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  'Theodor de Bry' America [G.6627]
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The European countries of Spain, France and Britain all had important interests in North America, not least because these colonies promised future wealth and were strategically important to the sugar, tobacco and coffee islands of the Caribbean.

By the mid-eighteenth century, the British North American colonies were well-established settlements, closely tied into Atlantic and Caribbean trading networks. Although religious beliefs provided the motivation for many settlers, others also saw the colonies as an opportunity to own their own land, work for themselves or find their fortune. From fish and furs to tobacco and timber, it seemed that great wealth could be made from securing exclusive mercantile access to these lands, which also traded closely with the sugar isles of the Caribbean.

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Newes from America
John Underhill, Newes from America, 1628 [C.33.c.35]
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Competition over these resources intensified the conflict between Britain, France and Spain (the major European powers in the Americas), and the British colonies had to be defended from French and Native American attacks.

Who should meet these costs became the question of the day.

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Introduction
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The North American
Colonies and the British
empire
Costs of empire:
the stamp act crisis
Pamphlet war and the
Boston massacre
War of independence
Peace of Paris
British revival
Dawn of the American republic
Rights and liberties: the legacy of the American revolution
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