Britain and France at the Birth of America

BookBritain and France at the Birth of America

Britain and France at the Birth of America

The European Powers and the Peace Negotiations of 1782-83


May 1st, 2001





This is the first comprehensive study of the peace negotiations which ended the American War of Independence. It challenges traditional views and uses a wide range of sources to provide a detailed analysis of the treaties signed between Britain and France, Spain, the Netherlands and the United States. It shows that American independence, rather than being the important issue of the negotiations, was consistently subordinated to European balance of power considerations. The book demonstrates the importance of personality and popular prejudice in determining foreign policy, and new insights are offered into the personalities and objectives of the leading political figures of the time, including George III, Louis XVI, Benjamin Franklin, Lords Shelburne, Grantham and North, Charles James Fox, the Comte de Vergennes, John Jay, John Adams, Catherine the Great and Frederick the Great. The result is a significant study of eighteenth-century diplomatic and political history which overturns previously established views.

Andrew Stockley obtained his doctorate in history from the University of Cambridge and is currently Lecturer in Constitutional Law, University of Canterbury, New Zealand and Principal of College House, Christchurch, New Zealand. His research interests are Constitutional Law, The Role of the Crown and Republicanism, Parliament and the Electoral System, The Treaty of Waitangi, Civil Liberties and Human Rights. He is a former Head of the School of Law and is Principal of College House - New Zealand's oldest and most traditional university college.

... Turns the established view of the creation of the USA upon its head ...

This splendidly produced volume needs to be set in the historiographical context of its subject, one much written about from varying national viewpoints ... The merits of this book by Andrew Stockley are that he incorporates recent scholarship; adds new material of his own; notes the impact of internal politics in Britain and France; and, above all, as his title suggests, puts the whole topic in a European rather than American setting ... An excellent synthesis of a complicated topic, leavened with fresh material and marked by an original approach.

The British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 25.1

Highly recommended for all college libraries.

Choice, Vol. 39, No. 6

The specialist will find much to enjoy and benefit from, especially the analysis of the construction of a viable British foreign policy towards the American colonies and their European allies.

The International History Review, Vol. 24:1

Author Information

Andrew Stockley is Lecturer in Constitutional Law at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand and Principal of College House, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
List of Illustrations
A Note on References
Summary Chronology
1 The Approach of Peace
2 The Birth of America
3 Shelburne, Vergennes and the European Settlement
4 The Domestic Political Context
5 Fox and the 1783 Negotiations
Appendix: Dramatis Personae
Select Bibliography