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Almanack

On-line version ISSN 2236-4633

Abstract

MUSSELWHITE, Paul. GLOBAL CITIZENS: URBAN CITIZENSHIP IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF ENGLISH AMERICA. Almanack [online]. 2020, n.24, ed00619.  Epub Apr 30, 2020. ISSN 2236-4633.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/2236-463324ed00619.

This essay explores the role that ideas about urban citizenship played in the political and economic development of English colonies across the Americas. Scholars have traditionally portrayed English America as rural in comparison to Spanish and Portuguese Americas. While it is true that English colonial towns did have smaller populations than Iberian cities, ideas about urban political identity were not absent in English colonies. In fact, urban citizens, and their political culture, were at the forefront of English colonization in the early-seventeenth century. In contrast to Iberian America, though, English colonists established fewer new urban communities and instead continued to hold on to their identity rooted in particular English towns and cities. As such, English America became a web of overlapping urban citizen networks still tied to English corporate communities. As a result, when the English monarchs sought to centralize the imperial state in the early seventeenth century, colonists resisted this political and economic encroachment by adopting the structures and rhetoric of urban republicanism. The importance of these urban republican traditions helps to explain the specific form of republicanism that became popular in English America in the decades before the American Revolution. This rich tradition of urban republicanism was largely disconnected from specific urban communities in the New World, and this allowed the ideology to be flexible enough to resist the rationalizing reforms of the late eighteenth century and give rise to a more overtly exclusionary definition of citizenship in the new United States.

Keywords : Citizenship; English America; urban republicanism; corporation; political culture; puritanism.

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