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American States of Nature – The Origins of Independence, 1761-1775 - Oxford Scholarship Online
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American States of Nature: The Origins of Independence, 1761-1775

Mark Somos


The exact phrase, “state of nature,” was used thousands of times in the British colonies between 1630 and 1810, in juridical, theological, medical, political, economic, and other senses. From the plurality of meanings, a distinctive American state of nature discourse started to emerge by the 1760s. It combined existing European and American semantic ranges and sidelined others in moments of intense contestation, for instance during the 1765–66 Stamp Act crisis, and the 1774 First Continental Congress. In numerous laws and resolutions, forensic arguments, petitions, sermons, broadsides, books, ... More

Keywords: state of nature, American Revolution, early constitutional design, 1761–1775, Stamp Act, First Continental Congress, James Otis

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2019 Print ISBN-13: 9780190462857
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2019 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190462857.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Mark Somos, author
Senior Visiting Research Fellow, Sussex Law School, UK