Like many another Roundhead, George Downing had a problem when Charles II returned in 1660, not least because he had been inconveniently prominent in urging Oliver Cromwell to become king. Luckily there was a way out. In 1638 the Downing family had decamped to Massachusetts, where young George had become the second person to graduate from Harvard.
Across the 17th century, more than 350,000 English people went to America. Yet many, if not most of those who went brought with them a keen sense of their bringing ‘Englishness’ with them, rather than transforming into ‘Americans’. Emigrants travelled to the New World for a variety of reasons.
Exile has long been central to our understanding of certain Early Modern topics. The flight of English Protestants, and then Catholics, to the Continent in the 16th century, or the exodus of Huguenots (many to England and Ireland) after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in the 17th, are perhaps the best known examples to UK audiences.
Although most Americans take pride in being ‘a nation of immigrants’ (a slogan apparently popularized by John F. Kennedy), the process of immigration causes perennial controversy in the United States. That is true even in New York City, which would not exist without it, and which stars in many historical narratives of it.
Asian American studies in which the ‘American’ refers to Latin America have seen a considerable growth in recent years.