In 1720s London, a well-known band of young ruffians gave themselves crescent tattoos and adorned turbans in honour of their so-called 'mohamattan [Muslim]' Indian namesakes, the Mohawk. Few Britons noticed the gang's mistaken muddling of North American and Indian subcontinent geographies and cultures. Even fewer cared in an age in which 'Indian' was a catch-all term applied to theatre characters, philosophies, and objects whose only common characteristic often wasthat they were not European. Yet just thirty years later, when the North American empire had entered centre stage, Londoners bought Iroquois tomahawks at auctions; provincial newspapers debated Cherokee politics; women shopkeepers read aloud newspaper accounts of frontier battles as their husbandscounted the takings; church congregations listened to the sermons of American Indian converts; families toured museum exhibits of American Indian artefacts; and Oxford dons wagered their bottles of port on the outcome of American wars. Focusing on the question, 'How did the British who remained in Britain perceive American Indians, and how did these perceptions reflect and affect British culture?', Savages within the Empire explores both how Britons engaged with the peripheries of their Atlantic empire without leaving home, and, equally important, how their forged understanding significantly affected the British and their rapidly expanding world. It draws from a wide range of evidence to consider an array ofeighteenth-century contexts, including material culture, print culture, imperial government policy, the Church of England's missionary endeavours, the Scottish Enlightenment, and the public outcry over the use of American Indians as allies during the American War of Independence. By chronicling and exploringdiscussions and representations of American Indians in these contexts, Troy Bickham reveals the proliferation of empire-related subjects in eighteenth-century British culture as well as the prevailing pragmatism with which Britons approached them.
- Publication Date:
- 08 / 12 / 2005