British models of colonial governance: Adam Smith and John Bruce on the Cape Colony

Johnson, David (2010). British models of colonial governance: Adam Smith and John Bruce on the Cape Colony. The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, 51(1-2) pp. 103–127.

Abstract

The Scottish Enlightenment models of colonial governance produced for the Cape Colony by Adam Smith (1723-1790) and John Bruce (1744-1826) are examined. The article ranges between Smith and Bruce’s views on Britain’s colonial policy in general terms, and the specifics of their ideas on the Cape Colony. The comparison focuses on three aspects: one, how in political terms the relation between nation and colony should be constituted; two, how the economics of colonial trade should be regulated; and three, how the indigenes of new colonies should be integrated into Britain’s political economy. The differences between Smith, the theorist of free trade, and Bruce, the apologist for the East India Company, are highlighted, but so too are the similarities, most notably their common silences about the colonial violence accompanying European expansion.

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