Cambridge Journals Digital Archives
English, American Studies
After the firm establishment of the English Atlantic colonies, and before the emergence of ‘the American identity’, these provinces participated with the metropolis in a political and economic ‘empire’. If ‘empire’ might be challenged as conveying too much political or economic meaning, it might also be challenged as conveying too little social meaning. Was the English Atlantic at the opening of the eighteenth century a civilization, a culture, a society, or a community? Though these terms are maddeningly ill-defined and somewhat interchangeable, they are suggested here as a scale of increasing social cohesiveness, from a relationship that is primarily inherited and parallel (civilization, culture) to a connexion that is primarily based upon the sharing of current ideas, institutions and interests (society, community). One essential pre-requisite for such sharing is a network of communications judged adequate by the people using it.
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