Lauren Michalak, University of Maryland
MCEAS Consortium/Friends of MCEAS Fellow
“‛The Mobs All Cry’d Peace with America’: The Gordon Riots and Revolution in England and America”
“‘The Mobs All Cry’d Peace with America’” examines the myriad connections between the 1780 Gordon Riots and the American Revolution to understand how power was contested on both sides of the Atlantic and how ideas and information spread and shaped political ideology. My dissertation explores how Britons situated the riots in relation to the American war, why so many American leaders wrote about the Gordon Riots, why both Patriot and Loyalist American newspapers covered them so extensively, and how the riots influenced diplomatic negotiations and alliances. The domestic riots occurred at a moment when the British Empire was in crisis and revolutionary ideas were percolating around the Atlantic world. The events leading up to the riots, as well as the riots themselves, reflected many of the contentions that would help to shape the Age of Revolutions: concerns about representation, questions about power and authority and the role of the government, attacks on iconographies of power, identity fracturing and formation. I argue that the Gordon Riots reveal that American criticisms of creeping absolutism, deficient representation, and betrayals of British identity and liberties was not merely an imperial misunderstanding between the center and the periphery. The Gordon Riots demonstrate those same criticisms were raised in the very center itself—London—in relation to what was ostensibly a domestic government issue.