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Publication Type
Conference Proceedings
UWI Author(s)
Author, Analytic
Robertson, James
Author Role
Presenter
Author Affiliation
Department of History and Archaeology
Paper/Section Title
What was the western design?
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Date of Meeting
March 3, 2004
Place of Meeting
John Carter Brown Library, Brown University, Rhode Island
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Notes
Fellow's presentation
Abstract
For historians today the only thing worse than an exercise in imperialist aggression is an unsuccessful exercise in imperialist aggression. In such a chilly context the 350th anniversary of Oliver Cromwell's Western Design in 2005 looks all-too-likely to pass unmarked, swamped in the backwash from the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. The Western Design's significance lies in its long term consequences - including inadvertent consequences-as much as in the ambition of its intentions. England was late in pressing into the Caribbean. The fleet that Oliver Cromwell directed to the West Indies was the first such imperial assault that the English state sent into the Caribbean. Britain would then continue to sustain such naval expeditions for a hundred and fifty years - up until Trafalgar. Looked at from the West Indies, the events of 1655 and 1805 mark two ends of a significant phase in Britain's engagement with the region. The author concludes that the Western Design fell short of all the dreams that it carried with it; for the army, the navy and for a white settlement. The potentcy of these hopes at Cromwell's own court sustained the expedition, even when it degenerated into the interminable guerilla war of the English conquest of Jamaica.....
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