Governing an Empire

On the eve of the American War for Independence, the British Empire stretched from the eastern coast of India to Ireland to the interior of North America and contained an extraordinarily diverse population of different races, religions, and ethnicities. What its peoples largely shared was a cultural heritage of English law and political thought, especially the notion of representative government. Such ideas adapted in different ways to particular social, economic, and physical environments, rendering each colony strikingly different from one another. The result was an unprecedented challenge to those responsible for managing the interests of the Empire and relations among its constituent parts.

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