Creating British Global Leadership: The Liberal Trading Community from 1750 to 1792
AbstractThis paper explores the process by which Great Britain rose to a position of global leadership in the 1800s. It examines the critical period from 1750 to 1792 when Great Britain moved from global leadership based on colonial/mercantile power to leadership based on industrial/commercial power. I hypothesize that the roots of the Pax Britannica of 1815-1873 have their source in the emerging liberal trading community created by the British in the fifty years before the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. This coalition of states was created around a dominant new idea (economic liberalism) based in the distribution of positive benefits from inclusion in the community, and intended to provide an innovative solution to the problems of international political economy created by the burgeoning industrial revolution. The community was created through the actions of successive British governments throughout the period, and served as the basis for the British-led coalitions which emerged victorious from the global wars of 1792 to 1815. This case study helps answer important questions about how Great Britain was able to move from one period of global leadership to another, and on a more general level provides some insights into the role coalition-building plays in attaining and exercising global power.
Copyright (c) 2015 Daniel J. Whiteneck
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