C A R L A G A R D I N A P E S TA N A Miami University Oliver Cromwell's Western Design--the project to conquer the Spanish West Indies that brought Jamaica into the English colonial orbit--marked a signal moment in the development of an English imperial vision. For the first time the state captured the colony of a rival European power, that of its longstanding nemesis, Hapsburg Spain. Considered an embarrassing failure at the time, the design dramatically increased the acreage controlled by the English in the Caribbean--Jamaica was larger than all the other English islands combined--and eventually allowed Britain to emerge as a leading sugar producer. This article explores the sense of failure wrought by this ambitious imperial program, rather than the long-term success it ultimately brought. In worrying over the performance of the English officers and men sent out on the design, commentators revealed the anxieties and assumptions that animated early English imperial endeavors. Mortification occurred within the dual contexts of burgeoning imperial schemes and tottering English revolution, and both of those contexts intensified the discussion about the failure. The design fit into Cromwell's elevated ambitions for England and for its revolution. He
Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Oct 23, 2005
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