Thursday, August 20, 2015

Call for Papers: "Empires of Liberty and the American Revolution"

Sons of the American Revolution: Annual Conference on the American Revolution
June 10-12, 2016, Pasadena, CA
Empires of Liberty and the American Revolution

In a 1780 letter to George Rogers Clark, Thomas Jefferson spoke of an “empire of liberty,” claiming that if Clark succeeded in his maneuvers in the Northwest, he would “add to the Empire of liberty an extensive and fertile Country.”  Jefferson is not the only American to use the phrase.  In 1786, John Adams wrote that “It has ever been my hobby-horse to see rising in America an empire of liberty, and a prospect of two or three hundred millions of freemen, without one noble or one king among them.”  Others expressed similar sentiments.  In his last “Circular to the States,” General Washington noted that “the foundation of our empire was not laid in the gloomy age of Ignorance and Superstition, but at an Epocha when the rights of mankind were better understood and more clearly defined, than at any former period.”  Given the republican leanings of America’s founding generation, this imperial language is jarring, and perhaps paradoxical.   Even so, it reminds us that the American Revolution grew out of a crisis in the British Empire, and that the imperial problems the colonists faced in the 1760s and 1770s did not go away 1776.  In some ways, the difficulties they faced were those of reconciling empire with liberty in an independent America and in a world of competing empires.

This problem, even paradox, of “the empire of liberty” is the theme of the 2016 Sons of the American Revolution Annual Conference on the American Revolution.  The conference will focus on the crisis in the British Empire that led to the American Revolution, and the efforts after 1776 to resolve, or at least manage, the imperial problem or problems. 

In support of their Congressional mandate to encourage historical research, the Sons of the American Revolution invites paper proposals from graduate students and advanced scholars in history and political science on any aspect of the themes of empire or empires of liberty in the American Revolution.

The 2016 conference will honor Jack P. Greene for his years of distinguished service as a scholar of American history and mentor to so many students.  The subject matter of the conference pays tribute to Professor Greene’s deep study of the British empire in North America, and of the constitutional history of the American Revolution.

Publication of accepted papers in a published volume is anticipated.  The SAR will cover presenters’ travel and lodging expenses, and shall offer a $500 stipend.

Papers will be delivered in Pasadena, California, June 10-12, 2016.  Paper proposals should include a short, 250 word abstract of the proposed paper and a short CV, and be submitted to Richard Samuelson, (, Associate Professor of History, California State University, San Bernardino, by November 31, 2015.