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Hubs of Empire

, 256 pages

9 b&w illus., 6 maps

September 2014



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Hubs of Empire

The Southeastern Lowcountry and British Caribbean


In Hubs of Empire, Matthew Mulcahy argues that it is useful to view Barbados, Jamaica, and the British Leeward Islands, along with the South Carolina and Georgia Lowcountry, as a single region. Separated by thousands of miles of ocean but united by shared history and economic interest, these territories formed the Greater Caribbean.

Although the Greater Caribbean does not loom large in the historical imaginations of many Americans, it was the wealthy center of Britain’s Atlantic economy. Large-scale plantation slavery first emerged in Barbados, then spread throughout the sugar islands and the southeastern mainland colonies, allowing planters to acquire fortunes and influence unmatched elsewhere—including the tobacco colonies of Maryland and Virginia.

Hubs of Empire begins in the sixteenth century by providing readers with a broad overview of Native American life in the region and early pirate and privateer incursions. Mulcahy examines the development of settler colonies during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, explores diverse groups of European colonists, and surveys political, economic, and military issues in the decades before the Seven Years War.

The plantation system achieved its fullest and harshest manifestation in the Greater Caribbean. The number of slaves and the scale of the slave trade meant that enslaved Africans outnumbered Europeans in all of the affiliated colonies, often by enormous ratios. This enabled Africans to maintain more of their traditions, practices, and languages than in other parts of British America, resulting in distinct, creole cultures. This volume is an ideal introduction to the complex and fascinating history of colonies too often neglected in standard textbook accounts.

Matthew Mulcahy is a professor of history at Loyola University Maryland. He is the author of Hurricanes and Society in the British Greater Caribbean, 1624–1783, also published by Johns Hopkins.

"An impressively constructed and stylistically presented account of the British Greater Caribbean, Hubs of Empire is historically sound and intellectually appealing. Matthew Mulcahy demonstrates great skill and command of the historical period and contexts."

"Overall this is a fine book: balanced, comprehensive, and well written... The use of texts like Hubs of Empire is critical to the recuperation of this historical experience shared alike by what became the United States and its Caribbean neighbors in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries."

"Mulcahy's theoretical approach is sure to foster much debate in both the classroom and the wider academy... Recommended."

"Mulcahy's theoretical approach is sure to foster much debate in both the classroom and the wider academy... Recommended."

"[Mulcahy] writes with clear, thoughtful and engaging prose. This book would be an ideal choice for undergraduate courses on the early United States or on the Atlantic World."

"... Hubs of Empire: The Southeastern Low country and British Caribbean is an ideal introduction to the main themes of the Greater Caribbean for undergraduate classrooms and for graduate students seeking a snappy and thought-provoking synthesis."

"Written with clarity and vigor and will be key to changing perceptions in the teaching of early American history."

"... Mulcahy’s survey provides a good argument for thinking about the way we delineate historical spaces and the way geography and environment shaped the social and economic worlds of the people who came to inhabit them..."

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