Americans of patriot sympathies in London and the colonial strategy for opposition, 1774-1775.
The thesis indentifies fifty-one Americans of Patriot sympathies who
were resident in London during the political crisis which followed the
Boston Tea Party (1774-1775) and who were active in support of the Patriot
movement at some point during the crisis. Using this number of Patriots as
a focal point, the thesis addresses two problems: to what extent did the
advice of their confederates in London influence the policy-making of the
Patriot leaders who met in Congress in 1774 and the spring and summer of
1775? And what efforts, if any, did the Patriots make to transcend the
limitations of the direct action tactics employed by the Congress in order to
negotiate a peaceful settlement with Britain?
A survey of the transatlantic correspondence of the number of Patriots
in London reveals that Patriot advice from the metropolis reflected the full
spectrum of moderate and extremist opinion within the movement at large in
America. This fact, together with the fact that the Patriots in London lacked
any mechanism for advising the Congress as a whole or claiming authority
to define the intentions of the British government, meant that the Patriots in
London did not have the means of shaping policy within the Congress, but
rather reflected its lack of consensus on certain issues, notably the question
of how amenable Government was to negotiations.
Located as they were at the administrative center of the empire, this last
question was of particular concern to a number of the Patriots in London.
Certain of them had connections among the Ministry and the Opposition,
and they investigated the potential for opening talks between British
politicians and Patriot leaders. Their collective efforts make it clear that the
Patriots were aware of the shortcomings of the intransigent tactics and
remote posture assumed by the Congress, and sought to find some
effective procedure for discovering common ground with the mother
country. However, the diplomatic void proved unbridgable, and only when
the Americans had given up the task of seeking reconciliation with Britain
did they finally acquire the consensus on policy necessary to assume a
more distinct diplomatic posture in Europe. Much of the early U.S.
diplomatic corps was chosen from among the Patriots who had acted
informally for the Congress in London in 1774-1775.