Pursuit of Profit and Preferment in Colonial North America
John Bradstreet’s Quest
How did an ambitious British army officer advance his career in mid–eighteenth–century North America? What was the nature of political opportunism in an imperial system encompassing an old world and a new?
This study examines the career of an Anglo–Irish–Acadian army officer, treating in considerable detail the network of old-world connections and patrons which at times facilitated his advancement. John Bradstreet was born in Nova Scotia and died in New York. He was a major participant in colonial North American military events ranging from the capture of Louisbourg in 1745 to the British campaign against Pontiac in 1764. Early in his career he became lieutenant–governor of St. John’s, Newfoundland, and eventually rose to the rank of major–general in the British army, while linking his military performance to a relentless pursuit of profit and preferment. He was a man consistently on the periphery of both English and American societies; yet his career reveals a great deal about the mid–eighteenth–century trans–Atlantic world and about the dilemma of proponents of Empire who were viewed with increasing suspicion in both mother country and colonies.
The author draws upon British, American, and Canadian archival sources, taking advantage of Bradstreet’s prolific correspondence to support and develop his narrative.