Essay: Wood’s ‘The American Revolution’, Niall Ferguson’s ‘Empire’ and Walter Nugent’s ‘Habit of an Empire’

In Wood’s ‘The American Revolution’ the assigned text was the two of the seven subsections that detail the events that caused the formation of the American Resistance. Wood tries to illustrate the difficulty of the dealings that came with economic and social situations created by the distant king who sat on a throne all the way in england. One of the things that he points out perhaps most important issue, Great Britain’s money had just spent a rather substantial amount of money invested in the Seven Years War against the French, an armed conflict involving all major European superpowers. The war ended in 1763, England was left a mountainous debt of ??137 million to which nowadays is more preferable then its today’s debt, a figure equivalent to 17 times that of the yearly peacetime budget. After the war the populations throughout the colonies were booming, Benjamin Franklin predicted ”the center of the British Empire would shift to America’ and grew to the point that people began settling in previously unexplored lands such as the areas near and beyond the Appalachians. Increased taxation occurred after the latter part of the French Indian War, The King and Parliament decided the colonies should pay for part of with a series of tax acts to increase revenue such as sugar act of 1764, Townshend acts of 1767 and stamp act of 1765. Needless to say the new acts were not received as warmly the parliament intended, although neither of those bills lasted longer than two years, they had in effect unintentionally sparked a future wild fire. Gordon’s paper looks through the American perspective but rather ignorant ramblings about they were fighting tyranny of the evil British not with unclear eyes rather he explains it through data such logistics, population shift of the colonies and the state of the British economy after fighting a war. Overall I felt that his paper although lacking more information of the British perspective, was mostly informative given information of why the British did the things they did. If he and Niall performed a collaboration work it might create unbiased and neutral tone book focusing on historical points information rather than causes like who shot who first for and they terrorized them.
Niall Ferguson’s ‘Empire’ writes the through the perspective of the English empire. Ferguson’s document starts off and only reviews of chapter two dubbed White plague. The British Empire’s origins, he described the British as the ‘white plague’ of colonization. This massive migration of British and Europeans chiefly seeking economic freedom rather than the religious freedom is what made and allowed the British Empire to continue existing. The chapter called plantation, does not speak about the crops, nor is he referring to slaves or workers that work them but rather focused on the potential agriculture in the American colonies, those who owned it and how much of it and the troubles of colonist given by the Native American population who were referred to as ‘weeds’.pg48 ‘Empire’. In the Chapter White and Black, He does not start right off the bat with perspective of indentured servants nor slavery of the African people but rather talks about the rapid emigration of British, Europeans and indentured servants from their native homelands to the colonies. Only on page 62 that he begins to bring up the mass exportation of African slaves to the Caribbean’s isles due to the high mortality rates of working the sugar and tobacco plantations, in later pages he talks about the horrendous treatment and conditions on the slave ships like the Argyle; where slaves packed together in small spaces, were in state of poor hygiene and inadequately fed. He talks briefly towards the end of this section about the rogue slaves or rather the ‘Maroon’s’ guerilla warfare against the British in the Caribbean Sea. In the civil war section, He tells us about ‘shot heard round the world’ between the colonial militia of concord against the Lexington redcoats, which to this day continues dumbfound all expert historians as informational black hole. He then continues on about how the war was started by further acts of aggression like Townshend acts, Boston tea party, and need of money after seven years war but does not mention things Boston massacre. He also drones on about a history of the American Revolution without any information about the actual battles and skips to the formation of congress and the creation of the declaration of independence. Toward the end he points out the hypocrisy of the declaration of independence in regard to owning slaves. While Niall writes through the perspective of British Empire and uses factual information to a lesser degree than Wood, I cannot help but feel a degree of animosity in his writings. Though Informational from the British point of view like Gordon, Niall does not include a American perspective.
In the Trans-Appalachia chapter of Walter Nugent’s ‘Habit of an Empire’, he discusses what the newly formed American’s did after attaining its independence. He notes the hypocrisy in America behavior, a land devoted to the ideal of liberty and democracy even before independence, have an imperial like behavior in acquiring land. He explains how these new addition lands inspired the people of the newly formed America, with this ‘we can conquer everything’ attitude. The Empire by which today’s grew from thirteen Atlantic coast colonies, the settling of unexplored Western territories like Trans-Appalachia, meant opportunities for many people. Like The Quebec Act of 1774 enacted by British as part of the intolerable acts, their territory expanded to take part of the Indian Reserve that was agreed upon by both Indians and colonist, including much of what are now southern Ontario, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and etc. Kings, colonists, soldiers, hell even peasants knew that beyond Rrans-Appalachia were more vast lands, plains, and potential farmland but they also know there’ll be more Native American tribes than one can care for nor deal with. Nugent goes more in-depth in land acquisition of post-colonial and post-revolutionary, but later goes onto historical points like the peace negations that transgressed during the war or points like the end of Seven year’s war. Out of all documents so far this paper takes the neutral stance in the telling of American history. Overall the document is clear, precise, give clear information like information about relative historical points and statistics about acres of land acquired both pre & post-revolutionary war.

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