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Planters, the State, and the Restoration City

Planters, the State, and the Restoration City

(p.116) Chapter Four Planters, the State, and the Restoration City
Urban Dreams, Rural Commonwealth
Paul Musselwhite
University of Chicago Press

This chapter traces the way in which Chesapeake political elites sought to use new kinds of refined urban spaces to secure their place within the Restoration vision of empire. It begins by examining the connection between the efforts of the new monarch Charles II to clamp down on urban corporate autonomy and his efforts to centralize the Atlantic empire. In response to this new reality, major new town-founding projects in the Chesapeake during this era represented an effort, on the part of Virginia’s governor, Sir William Berkeley, and Maryland’s proprietary Calvert family, to align their colonies with the royal vision but also to maintain local power to manage the tobacco market. This involved establishing new kinds of imperial urban spaces that resembled Restoration London. But this elitist vision of the city attracted resentment and hostility from the majority of middling planters, who clung to an ideal of independent urban civic communities as guarantors of their economic rights. This division, which catalyzed a broader class conflict over the region’s political economy, played a completely overlooked role in the tensions that fueled Bacon’s Rebellion and the parallel uprisings in Maryland.

Keywords:   Charles II, Sir William Berkeley, Lord Baltimore, Jamestown, St. Mary's City, urban corporations, urban culture, urban planning, English Empire, Bacon's Rebellion

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