Why are we speaking English? Replenishing the Earth gives a new
answer to that question, uncovering a 'settler revolution' that
took place from the early nineteenth century that led to the
explosive settlement of the American West and its forgotten twin,
the British West, comprising the settler dominions of Canada,
Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
Between 1780 and 1930 the number of English-speakers rocketed from
12 million in 1780 to 200 million, and their wealth and power grew
to match. Their secret was not racial, or cultural, or
institutional superiority but a resonant intersection of historical
changes, including the sudden rise of mass transfer across oceans
and mountains, a revolutionary upward shift in attitudes to
emigration, the emergence of a settler 'boom mentality', and a late
flowering of non-industrial technologies -wind, water, wood, and
work animals - especially on settler frontiers. This revolution
combined with the Industrial Revolution to transform settlement
into something explosive - capable of creating great cities like
Chicago and Melbourne and large socio-economies in a single
When the great settler booms busted, as they always did, a second
pattern set in. Links between the Anglo-wests and their
metropolises, London and New York, actually tightened as rising
tides of staple products flowed one way and ideas the other. This
're-colonization' re-integrated Greater America and Greater
Britain, bulking them out to become the superpowers of their day.
The 'Settler Revolution' was not exclusive to the Anglophone
countries - Argentina, Siberia, and Manchuria also experienced it.
But it was the Anglophone settlers who managed to integrate
frontier and metropolis most successfully, and it was this that
gave them the impetus and the material power to provide the world's
leading super-powers for the last 200 years.
This book will reshape understandings of American, British, and
British dominion histories in the long 19th century. It is a story
that has such crucial implications for the histories of settler
societies, the homelands that spawned them, and the indigenous
peoples who resisted them, that their full histories cannot be
written without it.
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