Conflict and Identity in Massachusetts-Louisbourg Expedition of 1745

TitleConflict and Identity in Massachusetts-Louisbourg Expedition of 1745
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1972
AuthorsShortt, S. E. D.
JournalSocial History
Date Published01/1972

The conquest of Louisbourg by a combined British and colonial force in 1745 represented more than a creditable military victory: for eighteenth-century Massachusetts, it became an event of immense symbolic importance. The 1740s brought to a head certain long-term trends in colonial society and in addition, witnessed the sudden unleashing of the Great Awakening, the Land Bank controversy, and the bitter war with France. By destroying the religious homogeneity of Massachusetts, the Awakening removed the traditional basis of the colony's social cohesion. The currency question and threat of military disaster simply added to the chaos of the existing identity crisis. Falling in the middle of this decade of turmoil, the Louisbourg expedition assumed the symbolic attributes necessary for the construction of a new Massachusetts identity. Certainly, the clergy retained somewhat more traditional viewpoints and merit separate consideration. But for the majority in the colony the expedition became a symbol of pride and unity, of a cautious but viable sense of provincial awareness. In less than three decades the legacy of this secular affection for Massachusetts would permanently alter the British colonial system.

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