Discovery and Rediscovery: Planters, Puritans and Philosophes

  • Stuart Andrews


The propaganda success of the American Declaration of Independence is shown by the change in European attitudes to America between 1770 and 1790. In 1768 the Dutchman Cornelius de Pauw could boldly assert: ‘It is certain that the conquest of the New World, so renowned and so unjust, was the greatest of the misfortunes that humanity has suffered.’ Twenty years later, but before the fall of the Bastille, Abbé Genty made a contrasting claim in his Influence of the Discovery of America on the Happiness of the Human Race . For the Frenchman, ‘the independence of the Anglo-Americans is the event most suited to hastening the revolution which must restore happiness on earth.’ The shift in European perceptions during those 20 years, was indeed a rediscovery of America.1


Federal Constitution American Revolution Colonial Settlement Cement Column American Declaration 
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  1. 1.
    For de Pauw see René Pomeau in L’Amérique des Lumières: Partie Littéraire du Colloque du Bicentaire de l’Indépendance Américaine (Geneva and Paris, 1977) ix; for Genty, see Yves Morand in L’Amérique des Lumières 9 .Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For Halduyt, see A. L. Rowse, The Elizabethans and America (London, 1959 ) 11.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    William BradfordHistory of the Plymouth Plantation, ed. Harold C. Syrett (New York, 1960) 16, 22;Google Scholar
  4. Voltaire, Essai sur les moeurs 2 vols (Paris: Classiques Gamier, 1961–3) II 381 (my translation).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    R.C. SimmonsThe American Colonies from Settlement to Independence (London, 1976) 193;Google Scholar
  6. V. H. H. Green, The Young Mr Wesley (London, 1961) 250–1.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    See Andrew Hook, Scotland and America (Glasgow and London, 1975) 9–12;Google Scholar
  8. for a typical advertisement, see George R. Mellor, ‘Emigration from the British Isles to the New World, 1765–1775’ in History February/June 1955 (New series XL nos 138 and 139) 68–83; Hook 69.Google Scholar
  9. Voltaire, Letters Concerning the English Nation (Lettres philosophiques), ed. Nicholas Cronk (Oxford and New York, 1994) 24.Google Scholar
  10. 18.
    Charles Chauncy, Seasonable Thoughts on the State of Religion in New England (Boston, 1743)and his sermonGoogle Scholar
  11. Civil Magistrates Must be Just, Ruling in the Fear of God(Boston, 1747)Google Scholar
  12. both quoted in Ralph B. Perry, Puritanism and Democracy (New York and Evanston, 1964) 77, 202.Google Scholar
  13. Simon Schama, Patriots and Liberators:Revolution in the Netherlands 1780–1813 2nd edn(London, 1992) 71; for the Free Corps, see Schama 80–121.Google Scholar
  14. 22.
    Rousseau 121; Peter Gay, ‘The Enlightenment’ in A Comparative Approach to American History, ed. C. Van Wooward (U. S. Information Service, 1968: originally broadcast as talks by the Voice of America) 44; for a list of books published 1760–90, see Palmer I 244.Google Scholar
  15. 23.
    Adam Smith, Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (Oxford World Classics, 1993) 343,363,364; for Smith’s advocacy of an Atlantic Economic Union as a way of preserving the Empire under the umbrella of free trade, see Andrew Skinner in Sher and Smitten 14860.Google Scholar

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© Stuart Andrews 1998

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  • Stuart Andrews

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