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Patriot Royalism: The Stuart Monarchy in American Political Thought, 1769–75

Eric Nelson
The William and Mary Quarterly
Vol. 68, No. 4 (October 2011), pp. 533-572
DOI: 10.5309/willmaryquar.68.4.0533
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5309/willmaryquar.68.4.0533
Page Count: 40
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Patriot Royalism: The Stuart Monarchy in American Political Thought, 1769–75
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Abstract

“Patriot Royalism” makes the case that American patriots of the early 1770s became the last Atlantic defenders of the early Stuart monarchs. Their constitutional argument—that America was “outside of the realm” of Great Britain and therefore to be governed not by Parliament but by the royal prerogative—had famously been made by James I and Charles I in their acrimonious disputes with Parliament over colonial affairs in the 1620s. Most patriot writers were fully aware of the provenance of this new position and enthusiastically embraced its ideological implications. In the process they developed a radical, revisionist account of seventeenth-century English history. A proper reckoning with the story of patriot Royalism should allow us to appreciate the true drama of the republican turn in 1776, as well as to understand the persistent allure of prerogative powers in the formative period of American constitutionalism.

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