Plank, Geoffrey 1960-
Plank, Geoffrey 1960-
Office—Department of History, University of Cincinnati, 2600 Clifton Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45221. E-mail—[email protected]
University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, associate professor of history. Fellow, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 2007-08.
American Antiquarian Society.
An Unsettled Conquest: The British Campaign against the Peoples of Acadia, University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, PA), 2001.
(With John G. Reid, Maurice Basque, Elizabeth Mancke, Barry Moody, and William Wicken) The "Conquest" of Acadia, 1710: Imperial, Colonial, and Aboriginal Constructions, University of Toronto Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2004.
Rebellion and Savagery: The Jacobite Rising of 1745 and the British Empire, University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, PA), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, Church History, and Acadiensis.
University of Cincinnati historian Geoffrey Plank specializes in the study of the eighteenth-century British empire and the native peoples that empire encompassed—especially the natives of North America. His monograph An Unsettled Conquest: The British Campaign against the Peoples of Acadia discusses the ways in which the British conquest of Acadia (the French colony that later became known as Nova Scotia) affected the locals living in the area, both European and non-European. "Plank traces the interrelationships of the post-1713 British regime in Nova Scotia with the non-British peoples of the region, the Acadians and the Mi'kmaq," wrote John G. Reid in Letters in Canada, "as well as recognizing the important context of the French presence in Ile Royale. His analysis reaches forward to the era of the Acadian deportation (1755-63) and the last major phase of British-Mi'kmaq treaty-making (1760-61)."
Part of Plank's analysis focuses on how the relationships between the conquerors and the non-British conquered affected the growth of the British empire in the New World. "During the years before 1763," declared Lynn R. Simms in the Military Review, "the English were trying to define what being a British subject meant." They were also debating the ways that inconvenient peoples ought to be dealt with—a debate that was partly resolved during the French and Indian War by the deportation of the Acadians from Nova Scotia to what is now Louisiana.
But the relationship between British and non-British is more complex than the act of deportation would seem to suggest. An Unsettled Conquest "is less the story of the British imperialists pursuing clear policies in the colony," wrote Barry Moody in the Catholic Historical Review, "[than] it is the confusing picture of borderland peoples attempting accommodation or confrontation in the face of repeated and often ill-defined British and French imperialist intervention." In their attempt to incorporate the new territory into the existing British world, "the British were hampered by self-made obstacles—inadequate governmental machinery, policy uncertainties, incompetent and self-serving officials, as well as problems arising from the novel Anglo-Scottish union," stated Philip Haffenden in the English Historical Review. "The surge of robust national self-confidence which the British witnessed in the first half of the eighteenth century was ill-suited to the subtle task of moulding a people firmly wedded to its Catholic priesthood and bound in intricate ties, over a century in the making, with Algonkian Indians." "Plank has provided us with an interesting, provocative, and on occasion controversial analysis," Moody concluded, "of the interaction of the peoples of Acadie/Nova Scotia during the first half of the eighteenth century."
In Rebellion and Savagery: The Jacobite Rising of 1745 and the British Empire, Plank examines the impact of "the '45" Scottish rebellion (led by Charles Stuart, aka Bonnie Prince Charlie) on the rest of the British world. Although the rebellion was soon quelled by British soldiers, the rising influenced the ways in which the British responded to all acts of rebellion for the rest of the eighteenth century. "Initially," wrote Kieran R. German in the Journal of British Studies, "Plank traces the precedent set by the government's campaign in Scotland. He identifies a multi-tiered assault on the Highlands: military policing and indiscriminate violence, demilitarization of the inhabitants, forfeiture of property, and the foundation of schools designed to extirpate the language and religion of the younger generation of Gaels." "Even the wholesale transportation of the entire Highland community to the colonies was considered," German continued. "Plank demonstrates the army's responsibility, under the leadership of the Duke of Cumberland, for the formation of such policy and explores how it was acceptable to both the ministry and public."
Some of the Highlanders who were deported to North America were Jacobites: supporters of the Stuart line of British kings that had ruled England from 1603 to 1689, and opponents of the Hanoverian line that supplanted them. They brought with them their culture of opposition to Hanoverian rule and a belief in the right of rebellion against a repressive government that helped lead to the American Revolution later in the eighteenth century. Plank argues that with the Scottish Highlanders and their culture came the methods the British military used to suppress them and to prevent the spread of rebellion. "They provided, Plank argues, the blueprint for similar reforming efforts elsewhere in the British Empire," stated Stephen Conway in War in History. "He suggests that a coterie of officers who had served under Cumberland proceeded to apply the same harsh military rigour, and the same enthusiasm for root and branch reform and modernization, in North America and in the Mediterranean outposts of Gibraltar and Minorca." "With the Crown's opponents identified as either ‘rebels’ or ‘savages,’" Brett F. Woods declared in the Canadian Journal of History, "the stage was thus set for the British to pursue two alternative justifications for suspending what had been previously been considered the conventional rules of warfare. This set in motion a series of events ultimately felt far beyond British Isles, events that favoured a new, uncommonly more aggressive approach to colonial rule and came to mark a turning point in British foreign policy." The volume, Woods concluded, "brings forth a stimulating and persuasive argument that could well present an implicit corrective" to our understanding of British colonial history.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, December 1, 2001, Jennifer I.M. Reid, review of An Unsettled Conquest: The British Campaign against the Peoples of Acadia, p. 1785.
Canadian Historical Review, March 1, 2005, "The ‘Conquest’ of Acadia, 1710: Imperial, Colonial, and Aboriginal Constructions," p. 157.
Canadian Journal of History, September 22, 2006, Brett F. Woods, review of Rebellion and Savagery: The Jacobite Rising of 1745 and the British Empire, p. 367.
Catholic Historical Review, October 1, 2005, Barry Moody, review of An Unsettled Conquest, p. 879.
Choice, July 1, 2001, P.T. Sherrill, review of An Unsettled Conquest; July 1, 2006, P.C. Kennedy, review of Rebellion and Savagery.
English Historical Review, February 1, 2003, Philip Haffenden, review of An Unsettled Conquest, p. 228.
International History Review, September 1, 2002, K. David Milobar, review of An Unsettled Conquest, p. 639; March 1, 2007, Paul Monod, review of Rebellion and Savagery, p. 136.
Journal of American History, September 1, 2002, Denys Delage, review of An Unsettled Conquest, p. 604.
Journal of British Studies, January, 2007, Kieran R. German, review of Rebellion and Savagery, p. 181.
Journal of Military History, April 1, 2006, William C. Lowe, review of Rebellion and Savagery, p. 498.
Letters in Canada, winter, 2001-2002, John G. Reid, review of An Unsettled Conquest, p. 224.
Military Review, January-February, 2003, Lynn L. Sims, review of An Unsettled Conquest, p. 69.
New England Quarterly, June 1, 2002, Marc Milner, review of An Unsettled Conquest, p. 348.
University of Toronto Quarterly, December 22, 2001, John G. Reid, review of An Unsettled Conquest, p. 224.
War in History, November, 2007, Stephen Conway, review of Rebellion and Savagery, p. 513.
William and Mary Quarterly, October 1, 2001, Fred Anderson, review of An Unsettled Conquest, p. 1010.
University of Cincinnati Department of History Web site,http://www.artsci.uc.edu/ (May 22, 2008), "Geoffrey Plank."
University of Pennsylvania Press,http://www.upenn.edu/ (May 22, 2008), summary of An Unsettled Conquest.