Edmund Andros: Historiography

As anyone taking the time to read this blog surely already knows, the History 404 class offered this year with Professor Bilodeau revolves around New England, New France, Native Americans, and their complex interactions from first contact up until pretty much the revolution. My experience in this particular field of colonial America was, shall we say, deficient coming into the course. Undaunted – and with no other option as a second semester senior – I soldiered on, and have made it to the historiography stage of the seminar!

My paper will ultimately surround Edmund Andros, though truth be told, I do not know exactly what I will be arguing yet. That said, I am quite pleased with the direction of my historiography so far.

As I said, I did not have an overwhelming bank of knowledge coming into this, but I have learned an enormous amount in the last few weeks about Andros and his role in colonial America. He was an administrator who first was Governor of New York, and later became the head of the Dominion of New England, an ill-fated attempt by King James II to unify the British colonies under one government. Unfortunately for Andros, his friendship with the Catholic monarch and totalitarian governing style were not to the liking of many New Englanders, and when news of the Glorious Revolution reached the shores of the New World, Andros was soon deposed in a miniature version of the protestant takeover of the British Monarchy.

Part of what was daunting for me last year in History 304, when I wrote on the Clinton presidency, and what was again challenging for this historiography was finding exactly how the sources fit together to create a historical mosaic that hopefully resulted in a useful picture of the subject. What I found after working my way through eight books and four articles (and possibly more to come) is interesting, if not altogether surprising when looked at closely and considered carefully. Andros, most popularly remembered as being on the losing end of a revolution, is in most areas treated as just that. For any historian I have looked at writing on British Imperial policy of the time or the Glorious Revolution as it took place in America, Andros is no more than a piece of evidence to describe how and why the Revolution took place. However, in the four sources that I have categorized as being much closer to Andros the man (as opposed to Andros the deposed administrator), he is treated much more favorably. As historians start to look past the “revolutionary” results of his actions and start to delve into the causes and reasons, the history changes remarkably. No longer is he just a totalitarian military governor (though even his revisionist biographer, Mary Lou Lustig, acknowledges this side of him), but some of his motivations and ideas start to shine through, creating a much more even-handed picture.

The paper is due Monday, and I have just sent an outline off to Professor Bilodeau to be looked at, so stay tuned for me to throw out all of my ideas and start from scratch as soon as he gets back to me, but that’s where I’m at for now!




Minimal revision necessary! Now the only problem is I have 4 pages (ostensibly, about half the paper) written and have only talked about 3 of my 12 sources… uh oh.

–Edit 2–

Andros was Anglican, not Catholic. Corrected.

Not the best looking British colonial administrator though, was he?

Sir Edmund Andros: Governor of New York and head of the Dominion of New England

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