Settlement, weaponised: Alexandra Lunn Montgomery, Projecting Power i n the Dawnland: Weaponizing Settlement in the Gulf of Maine, 1710-1800, PhD dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 2021


Abstract: After the British “conquest” of the French colony of Acadia in 1710, the British Empire sought ways to transform what was in practice the sovereign homeland of several Wabanaki nations into a loyal Protestant colony. In addition to subduing French and Indigenous populations militarily, British plans centered on increasing the number of loyal, white, Protestant settlers. These settlers, however, proved stubbornly illusive, forcing British imperial and colonial governments to turn to experimental strategies which ranged from using Parliamentary money to pay for settlers’ transportation, provisions, and land to encouraging private speculative companies. This study examines these colonization schemes in the far northeast of North America from 1710 to 1800. It makes two key interventions. The first is to bring state power into the discussion of settler colonialism and expansion in the colonial era. My research shows that rather than an unstoppable herd of white settlers that only incidentally overwhelmed Native communities, white Protestant expansion was a process actively pursued from the top down as early as the first decade of the eighteenth century. The second argument is that government officials and others in a position to plan settlements were well aware of the disruptive and dispossessive power of settlers. Throughout the eighteenth century, British men in power tried to deploy planned settlements of “loyal” settlers in an attempt to control or eliminate “non-loyal” populations — Indigenous, French, and, later, citizens of the nascent United States. I refer to this vision of state-directed expansion as weaponized settlement. Weaponized settlement is an approach to colonization that is directed from the top down, rather than led by settlers themselves, and that sees settlers as a means to achieve greater geopolitical goals. Despite a large expenditure of money and effort, however, these schemes were almost all failures until after the American Revolution. Ultimately, the cost of a loyal British northeast would be the majority of the British North American empire. For Wabanaki people, it would be far higher.

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