Replying to a crisis: James Macpherson’s the rights of great britain asserted against the claims of America

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The chaotic period of the American Revolution engaged many writers on both sides of the Atlantic arguing for and against the claims of the American colonists. One of the most popular and effective statements of the British position regarding the rebellion emerged from James Macpherson, poet of Ossian, historian, and government writer. As an accomplished literary talent in the service of politics, Macpherson wrote the pamphlet, The Rights of Great Britain Asserted against the Claims of America (1775), designing a persuasive appeal to the British public for preserving order and supporting the Monarchy. Macpherson displays a controlled, often dispassionate voice in dealing with the American rebellion, while seeking humane solutions with creativity, conviction, and agility in an environment of popular discontent and political instability. Finally, as a poet, he insisted on balancing the historian’s empirical demand for facts with sensitivity and a liberal spirit of dialogue often in opposition to the dominant opinion of his King and ministers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-211
Number of pages17
JournalBritain and the World
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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