Law’s empire
Chartering English colonies on the American mainland in the seventeenth century
in Law, history, colonialism
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This chapter addresses mainland settlement from the outside, as first and foremost an expression of, largely English, colonizing impulses. Examination of the charters that authorized English intrusions onto the American mainland both relativizes and reinforces the Jean Comaroffs' critique. As the seventeenth century became the eighteenth, English colonization of the American mainland became more and more completely a self-colonization. It seems clear that law as a discourse of authority-in-general had a crucial role to play in the processes by which English colonizers claimed, planted, manned and kept the American mainland. American historians have tended to write the history of the colonial era largely as an inside narrative of the formation of the settler societies that eventually became building blocks of a new nation. Much of American historiography assumes English legal culture as a foundation, notably as a font of liberties more perfectly realized in a revolutionary America.

Law, history, colonialism

The reach of empire

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