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History 2

Colonial élites. Rome, Spain and the Americas by Ronald Syme

By Ronald Syme

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English habits and attitudes tend to be exaggerated beyond the seas, ENGLISH AMERICA careerin the year 1790. Supposehisvigour andvitality had preserved him for three or four years longer. We can then see him duly elevated for public service to the peerage as Lord Franklin, that inventor and practical philosopher, a plain man, but far from simple. His energy unabated, Franklin would no doubt have re- verted to journalism, but in a superior capacity, as one of the lords of the daily press. And with what aims and what policy?

16 Inquiry shows that this ' sugar lobby ' totalled only thirteen, although in passing it may be said that no fewer than seven were 57 COLONIAL ELITES ENGLISH AMERICA from Jamaica. 17 the same family group, being connected with William Beckford, the largest landowner in the island. The men of the Thirteen Colonies at this time were highly suspicious of the ' sugar aristocracy ' of the West Indies, perhaps unduly. They themselves, in the year 1761, had not a single representative in the EnglishParliament.

Early in the eigh- teenth century we can discover the Uneaments of the traditional Virginian aristocracy, exemplified by the names Byrd, Carter, Randolph, Lee. 6 In the early years there certainly arrived from England a few members of the highest nobility. But it would appear, on scrutiny, that most ofthem died or went away. Instead, the lower gentry or their younger sons, or various 50 These were families that held large estates. They were now able to build splendid mansions and were concentrating their influence through intermarriage.

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