Alexandra Montgomery, University of Pennsylvania

Marguerite Bartlett Hamer Dissertation Fellow


My dissertation examines eighteenth-century colonization schemes in the far northeastern coast of North America, a region which is today Maine and the Canadian maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and PEI and was known in various indigenous languages as the Dawnland. Despite the region's coastal location, deep into the eighteenth and even nineteenth century the area had more in common with the trans-Appalachian west than the white settler colonial east: power remained by and large in Native hands, and Europeans were few, far between, and politically unable to assert the kind of sovereignty which they claimed on maps other imperial documents. It was not, however, from lack of trying on the part of European empires. My project examines efforts—largely British, but some French—to import large numbers of white settlers in an attempt to change the demographic and political realities of the Dawnland. Despite a historiographical narrative that sees settlement—particularly British settlement—as haphazard and with little official support, the projects in the Dawnland were state-sponsored to varying degrees; some were even funded directly by the British Parliament, and reveal a very different way of thinking about the role of settlement in eighteenth-century North American empires.


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