Due to unforeseen circumstances, this event has been canceled.
Much of the history of the American Revolution has been predicated on the assumption that the colonists had a strong and committed group of supporters within British Parliament. These supporters were known as the “Friends of America” – peers and members who opposed all that the colonists loathed. Chief among them stood the 2nd Earl of Shelburne, who was a significant opponent against Britain’s war with America and was a principal architect of the 1783 Treaty of Paris that ended it.
This talk will look beyond the colonists’ mere assertion of friendship and will instead look to the activities, speeches, and votes of Lord Shelburne. One discovers far less firm support for the colonists and much more agile maneuvering than what canonical history has led us to believe. Long after the signing of the definitive treaty, Shelburne believed the States would return to the imperial fold. Curiously, that belief only strengthened his hand while negotiating an end to the American war for independence.
The Colonial History Lecture Series is cosponsored by the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Illinois, in partnership with the History Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
David John Hancock is Professor of History at the University of Michigan.
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