“Aliens” in the Empire: Diversity in the American Colonies

Tuesday, October 11, 2011
7:00–8:30 p.m. (EST) Enter Classroom Enter Forum


Kathleen DuVal
Associate Professor of History
UNC at Chapel Hill
National Humanities Center Fellow

About the Seminar

Benjamin Franklin thought America had an immigration problem in 1751. Too many Germans. “Why,” he lamented, “should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens?”

Actually, Pennsylvania and the other colonies were home to lots of people Franklin probably considered aliens in one way or another: not only Germans but Dutch, French, Scotch-Irish, Native Americans, and Africans. If Franklin resented “aliens,” many of them loathed people like him, whom they considered British, and they resisted the cultural and political dominance the British claimed.

Who were these “aliens?” How did they relate to the British and the British to them? How did they shape the political and social life of the colonies?

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Assigned Readings

  1. Two British-Americans Observe Their Neighbors
  2. New Netherland to New York
  3. Servitude in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
  4. Scots-Irish in South Carolina
  5. An African in New England
  6. They’re All Aliens to Us