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- The William and Mary Quarterly
- DR. MICHAEL GUASCO
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The William and Mary Quarterly
Share Give access Share full text access. Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Volume 79 , Issue 2 Summer Pages Related Information. Close Figure Viewer.
DR. MICHAEL GUASCO
Browse All Figures Return to Figure. Previous Figure Next Figure. Email or Customer ID. On one side, plantation owners and their allies sought a political alliance and military protection from the English state, but vigorously opposed commercial regulation. They believed it their right to trade with merchants of all nations, and that open trade was the only way to ensure a steady supply of affordable African slaves.
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Against this view, the later Stuart monarchs and metropolitan officials worked to reign in the autonomy of colonial elites and to bring imperial trade under the aegis of a centralizing state. Scholars of British imperialism in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries will be familiar with these battle lines. Those who controlled imperial policy in London employed a variety of strategies in seeking to strengthen metropolitan influence over colonial trade and assemblies.
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Over three chapters, Swingen examines debates about the organization of the company and its two successor African Companies from the Restoration to the Glorious Revolution. Despite the hopes of successive administrations, no iteration of the African Company was able to maintain a profitable monopoly on the slave trade for long.
Interlopers were a constant presence, and planters took advantage of moments of political turmoil in England--such as the Exclusion Crisis--to push for more open trade. The book concludes by documenting the growing consensus in the decades after in favor of deregulation, as well as the efforts of the African Company to maintain its viability in the face of increasing competition.
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Competing Visions of Empire makes a valuable contribution to a number of areas of study. By showing how colonies were integral to state-building efforts and debates during the latter half of the seventeenth century, Swingen offers a useful counterbalance to a large body of scholarship that privileges a nationalist or three-kingdoms approach to the political history of the period.