How British Are You?

Very. The legacy of British traits in America is deeper and more significant than we knew.

As one of the most imaginative historians in contemporary America, David Hackett Fischer has produced a work that may put his fellow scholars’ teeth on edge. Historians, rather conservative in temperament, are reluctant converts when their choice ideas are thrown into question. Yet Fischer’s latest book, Albion‘s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (Oxford University Press) will fascinate them as well as the general reading public.Read more »

Does A Freeborn Englishman Have A Right To Emigrate?

Just before the Revolution, newly studied documents reveal, the flight of British subjects to the New World forced a panicky English government to wrestle with this question

In the early 1770s it still seemed likely that the struggle between Britain and her American colonies would be peacefully resolved. If it had been, history would have recorded far more clearly a remarkable development that was temporarily cut off by the Revolution. This development was a flood of immigration to British mainland North America and a sudden and immense spread of settlement in the backcountry of the coastal colonies and in the trans-Appalachian West.Read more »

Roanoke Lost

Four hundred years ago the first English settlers reached America. What followed was a string of disasters ending with the complete disappearance of a colony.

Roanoke is a twice-lost colony. First its settlers disappeared—some 110 men, women, and children who vanished almost without a trace. Ever since, it has been neglected by history, and few Americans of today are aware that the English tried and failed to colonize this continent long before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth. Four hundred years ago, between 1584 and 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh and his associates made two attempts to establish a settlement on Roanoke Island, in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. One colony returned to England; the other disappeared in America.Read more »

Britain’s Yankee Whaling Town

The curious story of Milford Haven

Milford Haven is the name of both a town and a natural harbor set in the rolling hills of southern Wales some 250 miles west of London. Once famous for its trawling fleet, it is now a major terminal for supertankers bringing crude oil from the Persian Gulf. Read more »

Lord Bryce

Few men—foreign or native born—have ever understood us better than this infinitely curious, inveterate Visitor from England

When James Bryce presented his credentials as ambassador from Great Britain to President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907, he probably knew more about the nation to which he had been sent than any foreign envoy in Washington before or since.Read more »

The Lion’s-eye View

A British Officer Portrays Colonial America

We owe a considerable debt to the British army for our visual perception of the eighteenth-century American scene. Among the officers London posted to North America were a number skilled with sketch pad and paintbrush who spent off-duty hours recording the landscape around them and the campaigns in which they fought. None of these soldier-artists was more observant than Thomas Davies, Royal Artillery. Read more »

His Most Detestable High Mightiness

Besides being a bigot, a fop, and a thief, the British governor Lord Cornbury, had some peculiar fetishes

Despite their many differences, Queen Anne’s North American colonies all shared a decent respect for propriety—or at least the appearance thereof. Why, then, did the early-eighteenth-century inhabitants of New York and New Jersey put up for years with a governor who paraded about in women’s clothes? One reason, no doubt, was that they were impressed by the governor’s royal connections and hoped to derive some benefit from them.Read more »

To The Manor Born

In 1639 an Englishman named Lion Gardiner singled out a piece of the New World and removed his family thereto—his very own island off the Connecticut coast. And despite invasions of pirates, treasure hunters, and British soldiers, Gardiners Island has remained in the hands of that family ever since. Because of Lion’s shrewd investment his descendants have indeed been

Robert David Lion Gardiner is a large landowner on Long Island, a successful developer and an impassioned preservationist. What makes Mr. Gardiner exceptional is that he also represents the eleventh generation of a family which has continuously owned the same land since 1639, making the Gardiners the oldest nonaboriginal landowners in America as well as the first American family to found a still-flourishing fortune based primarily on land. Were Long Island still a province of Great Britain, as it was for nearly a hundred and twenty years, Mr.Read more »

Flamborough Head

Eighth in a series of paintings for AMERICAN HERITAGE

On September 23, 1779, Captain John Paul Jones, wallowing along the English coast in the unwieldy Bonhomme Richard , met the British frigate Serapis . The battle that followed remains one of the most extraordinary single ship actions in history. The Richard had been a weary old French Indiaman, condemned for rot, when Jones took her over.Read more »

Fox Hunting In America

Riding to hounds has been as much of a sport among well-to-do Americans as among the British gentry

Ask anyone where fox hunting originated and odds are he will respond promptly, “Why, the British Isles, of course.” Indeed, the cry of “Tallyho!” conjures up visions of Lord or Lady Poddlesmere galloping across the English countryside, leaping mammoth hedges for hours on end, and sipping strong waters around the fireside at the end of the day. As it turns out, though, we Americans can lay just as much claim to pioneering the sport as our cousins across the Atlantic, and probably no one will ever know for sure who is entitled to the honors. Read more »