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Transferring the British Club Model to the American Colonies: Mapping Spaces and Networks of Power (1720-70)”

Valérie Capdeville

Résumés

Cet article se propose d’explorer les liens entre espace, mobilité et pouvoir dans l’histoire des premiers clubs américains, à travers l’étude d’une institution spécifique exportée depuis la Grande-Bretagne vers ses colonies. Indissociable de l’urbanisation, de la croissance commerciale et de l’expansion de la presse, la sociabilité du club répond parfaitement aux besoins d’intégration sociale, de partage de valeurs culturelles et de progrès collectif propres aux colons britanniques. Étudier les vecteurs et les modalités de transfert du modèle du club de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique permettra de retracer son destin colonial. Ce phénomène nous renseigne sur la façon dont les idées étaient diffusées, les pratiques sociales reproduites et adaptées dans les principales villes et ports coloniaux, sur le rôle d’individus et de cercles d’individus dans le succès des clubs coloniaux, sur la formation des élites sociales, politiques et culturelles. Dans quelle mesure les premiers clubs américains représentent-ils des espaces de pouvoir? Quelle influence ont-ils sur la constitution des nouvelles élites locales? Comment ces gentlemen se servent-ils de leur appartenance à un club pour construire leur identité sociale et leurs réseaux?

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  • 1 See Élise Marienstras’s analysis of social "transplantation".

1The first clubs on the British model appeared in North America at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Benjamin Franklin, a member of several London clubs, can be considered as a major agent in the transfer of this quintessentially British institution and in the development of the first clubs in colonial America – he created the Junto Club in 1727. Cities such as Philadelphia, Boston, New York, as well as the Chesapeake Bay area were particularly favourable locations for the expansion of clubs since they were the most populated regions in the Northern Atlantic and increasingly dynamic cultural and trading centres. As in the metropole, the rise of the club in America was indissolubly linked to urbanisation, commercial growth and the expansion of the press. It perfectly answered men’s need for social integration, sharing cultural values and collective improvement. Starting new lives in territories distant from their homeland required for the colonists to recreate communities and prompted their aspiration for sociable encounters.1

  • 2 For a specific and detailed study of eighteenth-century London clubs, see Capdeville, Âge d’or.
  • 3 The difference between the French model of the salon and the British model of the club is analysed (...)
  • 4 Most of the club gatherings mentioned by Dr. Alexander Hamilton or William Black in their respectiv (...)
  • 5 For an extensive study of British clubs and societies, see Peter Clark.
  • 6 Two main reasons may explain this rather misleading approach: first, the lack of precision in the d (...)

2As a major social institution, the British club embodied male sociability and social exclusiveness.2 Its birth in England during the Restoration era and its success in eighteenth-century Britain contributed to the emergence of a British model of sociability, different from other European models.3 Across the Atlantic, similar groups of prominent men formed in the main British colonial cities, meeting mostly in taverns and promoting friendship and mutual improvement through conviviality and conversation.4 Several historians of the long eighteenth century, such as Peter Clark or David Shields, have explored what is referred to as the “associational world,”5 composed of a multitude of different voluntary associations and pertaining to diverse forms of sociable institutions and practices, and indeed most studies tend to place clubs, literary salons, Masonic lodges, friendly societies, debating societies, philanthropic associations or civic associations − only to name the main ones − on the same footing, or rather under the same umbrella. Moreover, historians have often used the word “club,” and they continue to do so, for any selective social gathering, essentially among men, which first met on a regular basis in a public place such as a tavern or a coffeehouse.6

  • 7 “Social spaces were neither fully public nor private but rather a space-between, created in part by (...)

3However, I would like to argue that the British club was a distinctive social institution, with specificities and character which single it out from other spaces or forms of sociability that developed in parallel during the long eighteenth century. We may point out that the club challenges Habermas’s theory of the public sphere: the British institution not only questions the designation of the public sphere as “bourgeois,” but it also undermines the Habermasian distinction between private and public spheres, the club being a social space half-way between those two spheres.7 Only as it flourished and became a central and characteristic institution of British sociability in the eighteenth century and beyond, could the club be defined as a specific form of social interaction, with its rules, norms, recognizable practices, rituals and British character.

4A close examination of the main vectors and modes of its transfer across the Atlantic will enable us to map the colonial destiny of the club. It will also reveal how the club institution was reproduced and adapted in major colonial cities and ports before the American Revolution. This particular phenomenon reveals how ideas and social practices circulated, about the role some individual men and circles of men played in the success of club sociability across the Atlantic, about the formation of the social, political and cultural colonial elites. To what extent did early American clubs represent spaces of power? What influence did clubs have on the constitution of new local elites? How would these gentlemen use club membership as part of their status identity and the building of social networks?

  • 8 While taking into account the local variations in the implantation and success of various forms of (...)

5This paper analyses the interactions of space, mobility, and power in the history of early American clubs, through the study of a specific institution exported from Britain to its colonies. The focus on “elite” club sociability will provide a useful and long-range lens through which to understand the practices of exclusive sociability as well as their modes of reproduction in and transfer to British North America from the beginning of the eighteenth century to the 1760s, an era of important social and political transformation.8

Transplanting the British club model to the American colonies

6Addison and Steele’s Spectator famously justified the existence of clubs in England by man’s natural need for social interaction: “Man is said to be a Sociable Animal, and, as an Instance of it, we may observe, that we take all Occasions and Pretences of forming ourselves into those Nocturnal Assemblies, which are commonly known by the Name of Clubs” (Addison, Spectator no 9). This idea was echoed by Dr. Alexander Hamilton, the founder of the Tuesday Club of Annapolis in Maryland (1745): “This has been called by these philosophers, the power of attraction, which we find prevails and governs very much, among men and other Animals, and occasions that great propensity in human nature, to unite and form into Clubs” (Hamilton, History 1, 33).

  • 9 People would "club together" to share food and drink expenses for example. The word "clubbe" was us (...)
  • 10 First located on the East side of St James’s Street, White’s was opened as a chocolate-house in 169 (...)

7The changing definition of the word “club” itself reflects the progressive transformation of urban masculine sociability through the eighteenth century. Clubs were first rather informal assemblies of men meeting in public places such as coffeehouses and taverns.9 Samuel Johnson’s definition in 1755 was still rather vague, but introduced a limitation: “an assembly of good fellows, meeting under certain conditions.” As spaces devoted to social intercourse and public debate, British clubs gradually integrated new elements of regulation, selection and restriction and, between the 1730s and the 1760s, rapidly gained more influence on the British social, cultural and political scene. Characterized by increasing privacy and exclusiveness, various clubs adopted stricter election procedures and internal regulations which determined the nature and the identity of each institution. For example, in 1736, White’s Chocolate-House became a private club, then moved to a dedicated clubhouse in 1755.10 This trend originated from a desire to restrain the access to clubs, as a reaction to the open and public sociability of coffeehouses and taverns, and as a means to guarantee a certain social homogeneity. The same concern was explicitly formulated as a founding principle in the rules of the Old Colony Club of Plymouth (Massachusetts), founded on January 13, 1769:

We whose names are underwritten, having maturely weighed and seriously considered the many disadvantages and inconveniences that arise from intermixing with the company at the taverns in this town of Plymouth, and apprehending that a well-regulated club will have a tendency to prevent the same, and to increase not only the pleasure and happiness of the respective members, but also will conduce to their edification and instruction, do hereby incorporate ourselves into a society by the name of the Old Colony Club; for the better regulation of which we do consent and agree to observe all such rules and laws as shall from time to time be made by the Club. (“Records of the Old Colony Club” 389)

The British club model is clearly reproduced here and typically corresponds to a gentlemen’s club characterized by a selective membership, regular meetings and regulated convivial social practices or rituals. The social function of such a select homo-social space was always to combine pleasure and improvement.

  • 11 Peter Clark’s Chapter 11 entitled ‘Overseas’ provides an excellent picture of the expansion of Brit (...)
  • 12 An observation made by Dr. Alexander Hamilton in his Itinerarium illustrates this point: "I need sc (...)
  • 13 From 250,000 inhabitants in 1700 to 1,695,000 in 1760, according to Evarts B. Greene and Virginia D (...)

8London was the main urban hub of the British world and the heart of sociability and club association.11 The growth of clubs in America was obviously dependent on the same convergence of factors, which were all concomitant with the emergence of a public sphere. Even if the levels of urbanization were far lower than in the metropole at the beginning of the eighteenth century, the main Northern cities quickly grew in population, in size and in cultural influence, thanks to high levels of migration. Boston was the largest colonial city in 1740 with 17,000 inhabitants, with growing rivals such as New York (10 000) and especially Philadelphia, which reached 13,000 inhabitants in the same year.12 Maryland was not as urbanized as Northern colonies such as New York or Massachusetts but had an increasing density of settlement along the Chesapeake Bay, especially around ports such as Baltimore or the smaller Annapolis, the colonial capital. The demographic growth of the British colonies between 1700 and 1760 has been considered by historians as “phenomenal” (Marienstras 61).13

  • 14 For further information on tavern sociability in the American colonies, see Rice’s illustrated volu (...)
  • 15 Benjamin Franklin’s journalistic debt to Addison and Steele’s Spectator is generally acknowledged. (...)
  • 16 The Boston News-Letter was the first newspaper published in the colonies in 1704; Philadelphia prin (...)

9In most cities, the tavern had become a prime venue for a multitude of social activities and a privileged space for club gatherings.14 By mid-century, Philadelphia had about one hundred licensed taverns, one for every 135 city residents (Thompson; Roney 70). Merchants, businessmen and local officials had taken the habit of meeting there to discuss the news, engage in business, and share a few drinks. The expansion of the colonial press was parallel to the evolution of sociability in colonial America. By the 1720s, British newspapers were read in the main cities of the East Coast of British North America. Metropolitan news, intellectual debates, social habits and fashions were thus diffused across the Atlantic and periodicals such as the Spectator or the Gentleman’s Magazine became very popular among the colonists. They not only disseminated British fashions and trends but were also to shape the emerging colonial press.15 By 1739, there were thirteen colonial papers, many of which also regularly printed news of British sociable events.16

10British settlers were naturally prone to reproducing familiar social interaction and eager to gather as a group, for mutual identification and edification. Yet, clubs would not have experienced such an expansion in the colonies without the agency of some individual men, who had themselves experienced and cherished club life in Britain and wished to recreate similar institutions in their colonial cities and diffuse the core values of “clubbability” (Capdeville).Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Alexander Hamilton were two leading agents of colonial sociability, two clubbable men who had a considerable influence in the “transmigration” of club sociability, to use Hamilton’s own word, in their respective colonial environments (Breslaw, Records 1, 60).

  • 17 Autobiography, part 4, in the digital edition of The Papers of Benjamin Franklin.
  • 18 The first entry in the ‘Minute Book’ dates from October 27, 1743. The manuscript is kept at the Roy (...)
  • 19 Any guest had to be introduced by the president of this prestigious assembly, gathering those inter (...)

11Benjamin Franklin played a significant role in diffusing British values and social practices to colonial America and was particularly instrumental in developing clubs and associations in Philadelphia (Gilbert; Bridenbaugh). Living in London for about seventeen years in total, he was struck by the intellectual life of the capital and found London’s social life stimulating. During his first visit from 1724 to 1726, the promising young printer was introduced to coffeehouse and club life shortly after his arrival in the winter. In his autobiography, Franklin recalls his meeting Bernard Mandeville at a club in Cheapside, through a surgeon named Dr. Lyons: “[he] carried me to the Horns, a pale alehouse in ––Lane, Cheapside, and introduc’d me to Dr. Mandevile, Author of the Fable of the Bees who had a Club there, of which he was the Soul, being a most facetious entertaining Companion.”17 As various references in his vast correspondence also attest, Franklin truly enjoyed “the club and coffeehouse experience for which the Spectator had prepared him.” (Goodwin 29) When he returned to London for longer stays from 1757 to 1762, then from 1764 to 1775, he frequently attended, as guest, the reputed dinners of the Royal Society Club, originally called the “Club of Royal Philosophers” and founded by the astronomer Edmund Halley in 1731.18 His name appears for the first time in the original club records, on August 11 and August 25, 1757 (“Menu books,” Royal Society Library).19

  • 20 “[Its] name implies a political club, and it is true that over the years this circle acquired signi (...)
  • 21 A letter To Richard Price, Aug. 16, 1784, Vol. 37: Unpub. 1784–85, www.franklinpapers.org/franklin/

12His favourite club though remained the Club of Honest Whigs, which met every two weeks on Thursday evening at St Paul’s Coffee-house, before moving to the London Coffee-house in 1772. Despite its name, the club was originally and essentially a philosophical club (Crane 210).20 In August 1784, then an ambassador in France, Franklin expressed his nostalgia in a letter to his friend Richard Price: “I often think of the agreeable Evenings I used to pass with that excellent Collection of good Men, the Club at the London, and wish to be again among them. Perhaps I may pop in, some Thursday Evening when they least expect me.”21 His two longer stays in London as a colonial agent were definitely those which enabled him to fully experience an active and diversified club life. He had already transplanted and adapted this British associational model to Philadelphia, as early as in 1727, just one year after his return from his first London visit:

[…] I had form’d most of my ingenious acquaintance into a club of mutual improvement, which we called the JUNTO; we met on Friday evenings. The rules that I drew up required that every member, in his turn, should produce one or more queries on any point of Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy, to be discuss’d by the company. (Franklin, Autobiography part 6)

In fact, Franklin was certainly directly inspired by a “Society of Improvement” designed by John Locke. The second rule established by Locke stipulated that no person should be admitted unless he had agreed to three preliminary questions. On the original manuscript entitled “Junto book” (1732), we find the same rule with four preliminary questions, three of them being strikingly identical to Locke’s:

2. Do you sincerely declare that you love mankind in general; of what profession or religion soever?
3. Do you think any person ought to be harmed in his body, name or goods, for mere speculative opinions, or his external way of worship? Ans. No.
4. Do you love truth’s sake, and will you endeavour impartially to find and receive it yourself and communicate it to others? Answ. Yes. (“Junto Book” [1732] Historical Society of Pennsylvania)

  • 22 The Easy club was associated most closely with the poet Allan Ramsay who had formed in 1712 a club (...)

13The thriving club life of Edinburgh and the values of the Scottish Enlightenment also served as models to North American colonists. When Dr. Alexander Hamilton arrived from Scotland to Annapolis in 1738, he was first disenchanted by the lack of cultural and social life of this small Maryland port city (Breslaw, Dr. Alexander Hamilton 1-5). Nostalgic of his home city’s social and intellectual dynamism, he decided to embark on a journey through the Eastern colonies of North America in 1744, minutely described in his Itinerarium. After returning from his almost therapeutic peregrinations during which he was entertained by various groups devoted to learning, genteel conversation and music in Philadelphia, New York and Boston, the Scottish physician was willing to bring similar sociable amenities to Annapolis (Breslaw, Records xv). He founded the Tuesday Club of Annapolis in 1745, which he modelled into “a center of pleasurable companionship for cultivated gentlemen” (Burnard 228). His previous Scottish experience as a member of the Whinbush Club, being itself modelled after the Edinburgh Easy Club, undoubtedly influenced his imitation of the similar burlesque ceremonies and procedures of the Tuesday Club.22

Mapping clubs as spaces of power

14From 1700 to the end of the 1760s, a constellation of clubs and societies had formed in the American colonies and different types of clubs had spread, depending on their nature and their objectives. Their growth and their spatial distribution were obviously unequal depending on the factors mentioned earlier. The club institution was mostly confined to port cities and administrative towns. Besides, the pace of its development was irregular and a turning point can be observed in the two decades preceding the Revolution, both in terms of scale and geography.

  • 23 Hamilton (July 27): “At night I went to the Physical Club at the Sun Tavern, according to appointme (...)

15One valuable account to map colonial clubs is Hamilton’s Itinerarium which provides a rich and lively picture of colonial club life as his travels took him along the coast from Maryland to Maine and back from the end of May to the end of September 1744. His tour was punctuated by evenings spent at various clubs held in local taverns, an experience that enabled him to make comparisons. For instance, the Scottish physician found that people were more hospitable and candid to strangers in Boston than in New York or Philadelphia and that there was “an abundance of men of learning and parts so that one is at no loss for agreeable conversation, nor for any set of company he pleases” (Hamilton, Itinerarium 479). Boston’s cultural and social life offered a variety of occasions and venues for social interaction. Hamilton was invited to attend a meeting of the Physical club at the Sun Tavern, where he and other members drank, smoked, and had a pleasant and varied conversation (Itinerarium 387).23 In New York, he visited the Hungarian Club, meeting at Todd’s Tavern, several times during the summer (Itinerarium 145, 154, 300, 574). There he enjoyed wit and laughter but was rather impressed by the excessive drinking (Itinerarium 154, 300).

  • 24 A mystery persisted until American scholar George Boudreau identified ten years ago the twelfth mem (...)
  • 25 In two recent studies on the political and cultural role of associations, Jessica Choppin Roney and (...)
  • 26 His travel narrative was published in four parts in the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biogra (...)
  • 27 “The Governour gives them his presence once a week, which is generally upon Wednesday, so that I di (...)
  • 28 Hamilton’s taste for music will express itself in the songs performed during the Tuesday Club’s rit (...)

16Philadelphia’s social and cultural life was burgeoning, with about a dozen clubs by mid-eighteenth century (Lemay, Life 1: 240). The Junto (also called the Leather Aprons’ Club), which counted 12 members, all craftsmen and friends of Benjamin Franklin, held its first meetings at the Indian Head Tavern.24 Different types of clubs co-existed in the city.25 William Black, a Virginian government commissioner, travelled to Philadelphia in the same year as Hamilton and published a journal which gave a complementary account of the city’s club life.26 He visited The Beefsteak Club, explicitly modelled after London’s Sublime Society of Beefsteaks (created in 1735), whose members met every Saturday at the Tun Tavern to eat beef steaks (Black, June 2). Both Alexander Hamilton and William Black visited The Governor’s club, which also met at the Tun Tavern.27 Black described it as “a Select Number of Gentlemen that meet every Night at a certain Tavern, where they pass away a few Hours in the Pleasures of Conversation and a Cheerful Glass” (May 28).As for Hamilton, he particularly liked to take part in the conversations which he found at times entertaining, or agreeable or instructive, and always rolling on a variety of subjects. He also enjoyed an evening at the Musick Club, where he delighted himself “with musick, and good viands and liquor” (Hamilton, Itinerarium 639).28

17Back in Maryland, the Scottish physician did play a decisive role in the development of colonial club life, thanks to the success of the Tuesday Club. The club met on a weekly basis in one of the members’ houses and exemplified the Age of Enlightenment’s enthusiasm for literature, music, theatre, and philosophy providing an archetypal representation of a select social club the life of which revolved around good food, drink and convivial conversation. The Tuesday Club experience had an obvious impact on the creation of other local clubs. The membership of the Forensic Club created in 1759 was composed of lawyers and business men who met twice a week to discuss political, philosophical or ethical questions (“Rules and Minutes of the Forensic Club”). The Homony Club was founded in 1770 to revitalize the satiric tone of the Tuesday club: it met “to promote the ends of Society, and to furnish a rational amusement for the length of one Winter evening a week” (“Records of the Homony Club”). As Lemay pointed out, both clubs “imitated the apparatus which Hamilton created for the Tuesday Club”. (Lemay, Men of Letters 189) Within thirty years, Annapolis had transformed from a small rural village to “a sophisticated urbane centre of social life for the colonists” (Breslaw, Dr. Alexander Hamilton 8). Far from Hamilton’s 1738 description of a poor and unrefined city, Rev. Jonathan Boucher’s 1770 account praised Annapolis as the “genteelest town in North America, and many of its inhabitants were highly respectable, as to station, fortune and education” (Boucher 65).

18While the club institution perfectly answered a need for conviviality, its identity as a space of exclusive male affiliation was characterized by an ambivalent quest for both social cohesion and social distinction. Half way between the private and public spheres, it was both an instrument of integration and exclusion, a paradoxical feature seen by Alexis de Tocqueville as an English anomaly:

I cannot completely understand how “the spirit of association” and “the spirit of exclusion” both came to be so highly developed in the same people, and often to be so intimately combined. Example a club; what better example of association than the union of individuals who form the club? What more exclusive than the corporate personality represented by the club? (Tocqueville 88)

This paradox was an integral part of the “gentleman ideal,” so dear to the eighteenth-century clubman. Gentility was both exclusive and egalitarian. In his study of the Maryland elite, Trevor Burnard sees this quest for gentility as “a key ingredient in these important reformulations of provincial identity,” yet he considers it as “a deeply conservative impulse that relied on distant metropolitan arbiters for a definition of what was proper and tasteful.” (Burnard 227-28) Indeed, the definition of gentility was strongly shaped by the influence of English cultural networks. Jack P. Greene interprets this mimetic instinct as a longing for stability and order, and considers that, in search of identity, the colonists had “a strong predisposition to cultivate idealized English values and to seek to imitate idealized versions of English forms, institutions, and patterns of behaviour” (Greene 206).

  • 29 Hamilton (June 15): “After supper they set in for drinking, to which I was averse, […] They filled (...)

19Drinking was crucial to the process by which a gentleman adopted the forms of “gentility” and demonstrated his gentility to his peers and to society at large. Thus, convivial drinking was considered as the best qualification for a stranger to be accepted and be considered as sociable: “To drink stoutly with the Hungarian Club, who are all bumper men, is the readiest way for a stranger to recommend himself, […] To talk bawdy and to have a knack at punning passes among some there for good sterling wit” (Hamilton, Itinerarium July 9, 300). Peter Thompson, underlining the link between toasting and gentility, also argues that “Gentlemen pointed to their drinking rituals as evidence that they were of the ‘better sort’” (Thompson, “Friendly Glass,” 550).29 Most colonial clubs practised toasting: club members either drank to some great cause or to ladies’ healths. Hamilton related a visit to the Governor’s club, where “several toasts were drank, among which were some celebrated ones of the female sex” (June 11). As a matter of fact, the rituals which governed the drinking of Philadelphia’s social elite were informed by several concerns: the existence of environments or spaces to welcome their gatherings, personal refinement and the display of “genteel” manners through contact between refined persons.

  • 30 For both a conceptual and national approach of elites, see the works by T. B. Bottomore; G. Parry; (...)

20In colonial America, being a gentleman remained a marker of status in a context where the elite formed a less homogeneous, more diversified and more mobile group than British elite. The term “elite,” which appeared in the OED in 1823 and became widely used only at the end of the nineteenth century, refers to the individuals who lead or dominate in any category or social activity.30 In The Best Circles, Leonore Davidoff considers that “such groups, through social interaction often bar aspiring others from the acquisition of privileged economic and social positions. […] At the same time participation in the group is a reward and a badge of arrival into these positions, a public seal of acceptance into elite status” (Davidoff 37). Different types of elite groups can thus co-exist: the governing elite, social elite, landed elite, merchant or financial elite, intellectual elite... A particular feature of the colonial population was its diversity and high mobility.

  • 31 Contrary to the middle and southern colonies, Massachusetts remained a predominantly ‘agrarian econ (...)

21The colonial elite were composed of merchants, professional men, civil and military officials, as well as large landholders (or planters), yet each colony had its specificities, depending on their economic activities.31 While maintaining a degree of exclusiveness and gentlemanly standards, which helped harmonize social expectations, club sociability also played a role in the formation of the new elites in the rising cities and towns of the East coast.

  • 32 For a clear description of the role of colonial governors, see Van Ruymbeke 527-28.

22The Maryland elite, for example, formed “one of the most sparkling communities in America” (Risjord xix). For example, Annapolis differed from Williamsburg (Virginia) in associational development (though both colonial capitals possessed a population equivalent in size). The reason lay in the fact that Annapolis had a more developed urban economy. The city played an important role in Maryland’s dynamic import and export trades and concentrated administrative and residential functions. As a British province, Maryland had royal officials and governors residing in Annapolis who had a leading role in the government, business, and “Britishness” of the colony.32 Not only did they represent political and economic power, but they were also models of fashion, who “brought England with them into the heart of colonial America” (Clive & Bailyn 207).

  • 33 Jonathan Boucher mentions the Homony club: “Three or four social and literary men proposed the inst (...)

23The men of the Tuesday Club were professionals and tradesmen: doctors, lawyers, and military men, as well as members of the clergy (among other professions). The club was made up of 15 regular members with visiting honorary members (Breslaw, Records 82, 86). Jonathan Boucher, an honorary member of the Homony Club, invented a fake Greek etymology for the word “hominy”: he affirmed in 1771 that it “literally signified Unanimous: so that our American word Homony in this sense applyd to our Club, may be meant to intimate that we are a Club of men of like minds” (“Records” 69), thus showing the importance of the community of values and behavioural standards.33 Richard Bushman suggests that a conscious class of gentlemen, united by standards common to all the colonies, emerged in eighteenth-century America (Bushman 345-83). The omnipresence of the word “gentleman” in club records is telling, as well as the use of the adjectives “select” or “small,” which reflect a constant will to restrict the access to a club in order to promote an apparent greater social homogeneity and cohesion.

  • 34 Five additional members were elected subsequently; this new group included two more Harvard graduat (...)

24According to Alan Tully, two “loose but recognizable elites” existed in Pennsylvania, one comprising Quakers and another consisting of wealthy but more recently arrived Anglicans and Presbyterians, yet they shared similar social tastes, and ‘‘men of different religious and political connections mingled together at club meetings, dinners, and other social occasions.” (Tully 80-81) Besides, an increasing proportion of club members was recruited from the “professional middle and tradesman lower-middle classes”, such as Franklin’s circle which formed the Junto, yet it was said to be composed of the most ingenious men (Clive & Bailyn 204). The colonial elite included an increasingly educated middle class that drove the associational world to incorporate a wider array of intellectual association, particularly in urban centres (Ill 67). From the 1760s, some club records reveal that a growing number of clubmen had received a higher level of education, as shown for example in the commented edition of the “Records of the Old Colony Club” through the detailed status of its seven original members, their education and future professions. These young gentlemen were indeed part of the Massachusetts local elite: two were lawyers, one a customs officer, four were young men of business, and four of them were Harvard graduates.34

  • 35 Blumin argues that there were in fact distinct clusters of leadership groups (209).

25The select community created through membership to a club in particular tended to extend beyond the club level, since a “community of clubmen” took shape in the British colonies and constituted a wider elite group composed of different types of elite circles, which tended to overlap or even to merge.35 The constant quest for social, intellectual and political recognition or pre-eminence led to the creation of networks of influence and power.

Building networks of influence

26Networking through clubs to promote their social and professional success was an obvious concern for young clubmen in the colonies, as they embraced the best opportunities to develop friendships and intellectual affinities. The promotion of male friendship through intellectual conversation, professional exchange or table conviviality was central to club experience and favoured the building of circles and networks, thus shaping the contours of a densely-organized urban masculine sociability.

  • 36 In London for example, the Whig politician Charles James Fox was an eminent member of Brooks’s (176 (...)
  • 37 The Lunar Society (1765–1813, originally "Lunar Circle") was a Birmingham learned society gathering (...)

27Club membership and connections logically resulted in a growing mobility within prominent social circles. In that respect, multi-membership could be extremely useful. This fashionable practice was common among the urban elite and made it possible to widen the circle of one’s acquaintances, offering thus greater opportunities to be elected thanks to good recommendations.36 While in London, Franklin frequented several clubs, as well as the Lunar Society of Birmingham.37 Back in the colonies, apart from being the founding and leading member of the Junto, he also visited the Tuesday club of Annapolis in January 1754, where he was dubbed “Electro Vitrifico” as the club records reveal (Micklus 3, 295).

  • 38 The OED gives a definition of a faction as “a small organized dissenting group within a larger one, (...)
  • 39 Sir William Keith (1669–1749), a Scottish Jacobite, was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the Coloni (...)
  • 40 James Logan (1674–1751), an Irish-born Quaker, served as colonial secretary to William Penn and was (...)
  • 41 For a precise analysis of Pennsylvania’s political factions in the 1720s, see Wendel.

28Asserting local power and influence through clubs could be performed in rather contrasting ways: through factious action or through civic improvement. Just like the first London clubs in the Restoration era, such as The Green Ribbon Club, the very first colonial clubs were in fact political factions,38 which agitated urban life and could pose a certain threat to the established order. At the end of the seventeenth century, in the city of New York, the negative influence of clubs was deplored by Governor Richard Coote: “Cabals and Clubbs […] are held dayly at Colonel Fletcher’s lodgings […], false reports and rumours are spread about the City and province, whereby mens minds are disturbed and an odium cast upon the Government.” (Shields 185). In the 1720s in Philadelphia, Governor William Keith39 himself formed two clubs in order to further his political program against the Quaker establishment represented by James Logan.40 The Gentleman’s Club (made up of the elite of his party) and the Tiff Club were anti-proprietary factions.41 The power he managed to develop locally thanks to them, also using the press to disseminate his political views, made the wealthy Quaker Isaac Norris, Sr. say that Philadelphia’s politics was at the time controlled by Keith’s clubs (Lemay, Life 1, 239).

29Social or political influence could also be increased thanks to local civic improvement. Colonial clubs were an efficient means to integrate newcomers into their new communities as they helped members establish a reputation, meet business contacts, find support, etc. William Black observed at a club that “in such a Company, [he] could Learn More of the Constitution of the Place, their Trade, and manner of living, in one hour, than a Week’s Observation Sauntering up and down the City could produce” (May 31). As for the civic improvement promoted by the Junto, it was so beneficial that it spread thanks to the creation of similar smaller institutions: “Our Club, the Junto, was found so useful, and afforded such Satisfaction to the Members, that several were desirous of introducing their Friends […].” As the founders were against any extension of its size, it was decided that:

[…] every Member separately should endeavour to form a subordinate Club, with the same Rules respecting Queries, &c. and without informing them of the Connexion with the Junto. The Advantages propos’d were the Improvement of so many more young Citizens by the Use of our Institutions; Our better Acquaintance with the general Sentiments of the Inhabitants on any Occasion, […] the Promotion of our particular Interests in Business by more extensive Recommendations; and the Increase of our Influence in public Affairs and our Power of doing Good by spreading thro’ the several Clubs the Sentiments of the Junto. (Franklin, Autobiography, part 11)

  • 42 The Union Fire Company was directly inspired by the mutual aid clubs (among which fire clubs) that (...)

30Together with the original Junto, this network of self-improving young men laid the basis for civic transformation in Philadelphia. Franklin’s other creations such as The Library Company in 1731, the Union Fire company in 1736 and the American Philosophical Society founded in 1743 under the name of New Junto, should not be considered as clubs, but as civic voluntary associations of a different nature and purpose.42 Even if the Library Company of Philadelphia is often seen as an offspring of the Junto, it did not play the same cultural and social role as a club nor did it have its defining features.

31In his History of the Ancient and Honorable Tuesday Club, Dr. Alexander Hamilton considered that by offering their members even a low-level but a regular political experience, clubs were like “civil governments in miniature” (Micklus 188-89). They were thought to provide useful experience in institutional politics and rule at a time when the Empire had a reputation of laxness in its colonial administration. Interestingly enough, the members of the Tuesday Club observed a “gelastic law” that required satire and laughter:

That if any Subject of what nature soever be discussed, that levels at party matters, or the administration of the Government of this Province, or be disagreeable to the Club, no answers shall be given thereto, but after such discourse is ended, the Society shall laugh at the member offending, in order to divert the discourse. (Hamilton, History 1, 151)

32Wit in particular, even though it was often denounced as a superficial and dangerous art which could subvert all sincere feelings, was used by several clubs to prevent disputes, making it possible for political opponents to meet at a common table and amuse themselves by travestying the tensions that were being enacted daily in their offices. Any controversial topic could thus be discussed in an oblique or satirical way. In the parodic tradition of the Tuesday Club, even if it had among its ranks influential members and provincial officials, clubs such as the Homony Club claimed that power really lay in wit and liberty: toasts, rituals and mock trials were among the club’s central activities and badinage took the place of seriousness in their proceedings (“Records of the Homony Club”).

33The building of networks of influence and power at the colonial level was often connected to wider transatlantic networks. If power usually flew from the centre to the periphery, the circulation of British sociability in turn transformed those peripheries into real dynamic cultural centres, which themselves reverberated throughout the colonial world.

  • 43 Alexander Hamilton to Gavin Hamilton, June 13, 1739, Dr. Alexander Hamilton Letterbook, Dulany Pape (...)

34Through his travels and thanks to his frequent attendance of clubs, Dr. Hamilton secured existing friendships and made new acquaintances in other American colonies, many of whom made periodic visits to Annapolis, and in turn attended his club. He had also kept contact with fellow members of his Scottish Whinbush Club in Edinburgh. In a letter to his brother Gavin Hamilton (a book-seller and Baillie of Edinburgh) he asked him to “be so good as Remember me to all the Members of the whin-bush Club, [...] Inform them that every friday, I fancy myself with them, drinking twopenny ale, and smoking tobacco, I Long to see those merry days again.”43

  • 44 A letter From Richard Price, Nov 18, 1782, Vol. 37: Unpub. 1782-83, www.franklinpapers.org/franklin
  • 45 Marienstras points to the importance for colonial agents to preserve and build matrimonial connecti (...)

35Benjamin Franklin is remembered for having an incredible talent for building strong transatlantic networks. Thanks to a rich and sustained correspondence, he entertained durable friendships with his British fellow clubmen: Joseph Pringle from the Royal Society Club, Joseph Priestley and Richard Price from the Club of Honest Whigs and many others. A letter from Price perfectly illustrates the deep ties secured, not only between the two men but also between Franklin and the whole club: “We are often talking of you at the little society of Whigs at the London Coffee-house. We are proud of still numbering you among our members; and I now begin to flatter myself with the hope, that the time may not be far distant when the return of peace may bring you among us.”44 As a matter of fact, for British officials who came to the American colonies as well as American travellers to the British Isles, club membership promoted the multiplication of their contacts and the building of transatlantic connections.45 The proliferation of clubs in the Atlantic world undeniably facilitated mobility and exchange across the burgeoning English-speaking world.

  • 46 The Loyalists are the Winslows, Thomas, Cushman and White; the Patriots are the Lothrops, Angier, M (...)

36Inevitably, the outbreak of the American Revolution momentarily disturbed the pattern of public sociability and clubs in particular. As early as 1765, Hugh Roberts, writing to Benjamin Franklin, deplored growing tensions among Junto members : “I sometimes Visit the worthy remains of the Antient Junto, for whom I have a high Esteem, but alas the Political Polemical divisions, have in some measure contributed to lessen that Harmony, we there formerly Enjoy’d” (“Letter from Roberts to Franklin” May 20, 1765). Political tensions among divided club members sometimes put an end to their activities: in 1773, the Old Colony Club of Plymouth did not survive the strains of the Revolution, opposing the Loyalist members, who were forced to flee the town, to the Patriots, who remained influential in local affairs.46 In March of the same year, the Homony Club had to cease its activities: “It lasted as long as I stayed in Annapolis, and was finally broken up only when the troubles began and put an end to everything that was pleasant and proper” (Boucher 67).

  • 47 There is evidence of the existence of clubs in the Caribbean, some of which were directly inspired (...)

37This essay has endeavoured to analyse to what extent the club, emblematic of British identity and embodying a cultural bridge with the mother-land, had become an institution of power in colonial America, a social space which favoured the formation of new elites and new networks in the Anglo-American colonies. The successful development of gentlemen’s clubs across the Atlantic has proved the “striking exportability” of this British exclusive masculine institution (Clark 388). Throughout the eighteenth century, a multitude of clubs were thus created in various other parts of the British colonial world.47

  • 48 See Marienstras (26) referring to Zuckerman: “the very effort to preserve traditional precepts and (...)
  • 49 See Peter Clark’s two tables showing the expansion of clubs in the English-speaking world (128, 132 (...)

38The exportation of British clubs to the American colonies must be understood as part of a wider transfer of British cultural and social values to the Empire. A British model of elite urban sociability was thus exported to the colonies while undergoing evolutions or variations as it incorporated new features and social practices.48 Despite the inevitable evolution of the club model, its transfer resulted in the forging of a community of clubmen across the Atlantic world and in the British Empire. Beyond the famous London West End, “clubland” was not reduced to being a space on the map, but had become a “defined community of elite men” who shared the same cultural and social values (Milne-Smith 22). The prodigious booming of the associational world in the eighteenth century and the general propensity of Americans to gather in groups of all kinds was definitely fuelled by the multiplication and the success of clubs on the British model.49

  • 50 And “those colonies are, on all such occasions, esteemed as a branch of part of ourselves, and of t (...)
  • 51 One of the most important ethnic societies in colonial America was the St Andrew’s Society, a Scott (...)
  • 52 The question is raised by Marienstras: “Les colons sont-ils en voie de devenir des ‘créoles’ issus (...)
  • 53 While clubs were also created in Canada as well as in the Caribbean, they started a century later i (...)

39Many more aspects of the British club’s colonial destiny deserve further investigation. In particular, what role did the transfer of the British club model to the American colonies play in the construction of colonial identity? Daniel Defoe in his Review of the State of the British Nation (1707) mentioned the Britishness of the colonists who were “every way part of Ourselves” (Defoe 4, 536),50 a view confirmed by historian Linda Colley who insists on the fact that the inhabitants of the American colonies “[…] dressed like Britons back home, purchased British manufactured goods and […] were the same people as their brethren on the British mainland” (Colley 134). Yet, most American colonists considered themselves first as English, Scottish or Welsh − as illustrated by the existence of several “ethnic” clubs and societies − then as British.51 Furthermore, their location and involvement in the Atlantic World set them apart from their fellow Britons, leading them to forge unique identities that incorporated their roots while adjusting them to the local contexts in which they lived.52 A mixed-identity took shape through the very process of the colonial experience and was clearly echoed in the hybridization of the British club model across the colonial Empire.53

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Notes

1 See Élise Marienstras’s analysis of social "transplantation".

2 For a specific and detailed study of eighteenth-century London clubs, see Capdeville, Âge d’or.

3 The difference between the French model of the salon and the British model of the club is analysed in Capdeville, “London Clubs or the Invention of a Home-made Sociability.”

4 Most of the club gatherings mentioned by Dr. Alexander Hamilton or William Black in their respective travel accounts were held in taverns. Similarly, the meetings of Benjamin Franklin’s Junto took place at the Indian Head Tavern, then at the Bear Tavern, both kept by Nicholas Scull, one of its members, and later at the Pewter Platter Tavern (see Boudreau 310 and Lemay, Life 1: 334).

5 For an extensive study of British clubs and societies, see Peter Clark.

6 Two main reasons may explain this rather misleading approach: first, the lack of precision in the definition of the word club itself, due to variations in meaning through time; second, the fact that many associations termed themselves "clubs" but lacked the main characteristic features of a club, which in turn influenced club definitions.

7 “Social spaces were neither fully public nor private but rather a space-between, created in part by the nature of the activities that took place there, and comprising all the spaces for ‘society’ both inside or outside the home” (Cohen & Hitchcock 47).

8 While taking into account the local variations in the implantation and success of various forms of sociability in the colonies, my ongoing research specifically examines ‘gentlemen’s clubs’ and how these British-inspired exclusive institutions developed on the other side of the Atlantic and to what extent they shaped colonial society and identity. This essay focuses on the exportation of the British club model to the American colonies and on a few significant examples of clubs which developed in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts from 1720 to the eve of the American Revolution.

9 People would "club together" to share food and drink expenses for example. The word "clubbe" was used in 1659 for “a sodality [a society, association, or fraternity of any kind] in a tavern” (Aubrey 46).

10 First located on the East side of St James’s Street, White’s was opened as a chocolate-house in 1693 by Francis White. Four years later, owned by John Arthur, it moved to its West side, at No 69. The house and its adjoining buildings were completely destroyed by fire in April 1733, as depicted in "Scene in a Gaming House" (1735) in Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress. By then, the exclusive club was reputed for its high gambling. The clubhouse to which it moved in 1755 was called ‘the Great house,’ at No 37 on the East side of the street (its present location).

11 Peter Clark’s Chapter 11 entitled ‘Overseas’ provides an excellent picture of the expansion of British associations in the Empire, see especially 388–403.

12 An observation made by Dr. Alexander Hamilton in his Itinerarium illustrates this point: "I need scarce take notice that Boston is the largest town in North America, being much about the same extent as the city of Glasgow in Scotland, and having much the same number of inhabitants, which is between twenty and thirty thousand. It is considerably larger than either Philadelphia or New York, but the streets are irregularly disposed, and in general too narrow" (16 August 1744).

13 From 250,000 inhabitants in 1700 to 1,695,000 in 1760, according to Evarts B. Greene and Virginia D. Harrington, American Population before the Federal Census of 1790, New York, 1932.

14 For further information on tavern sociability in the American colonies, see Rice’s illustrated volume, or a more recent analysis by Salinger.

15 Benjamin Franklin’s journalistic debt to Addison and Steele’s Spectator is generally acknowledged. The Spectator was echoed in style and content by most other periodicals of the early eighteenth century, for instance James Franklin’s New England Courant and Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette. See Kamrath & Harris.

16 The Boston News-Letter was the first newspaper published in the colonies in 1704; Philadelphia printed its own newspaper, the American Weekly Mercury in 1719; New York followed in 1725 and Annapolis in 1727. See Charles Clark.

17 Autobiography, part 4, in the digital edition of The Papers of Benjamin Franklin.

18 The first entry in the ‘Minute Book’ dates from October 27, 1743. The manuscript is kept at the Royal Society Library in London together with the small leather-bound ‘Menu books,’ starting on March 24, 1747. Also Geikie.

19 Any guest had to be introduced by the president of this prestigious assembly, gathering those interested in natural philosophy, among the social and intellectual elites of Britain. Eminent scientists and philosophers from many parts of the world were regularly invited to join the club’s convivial dinners and erudite discussions.

20 “[Its] name implies a political club, and it is true that over the years this circle acquired significant overtones of libertarian politics. In origin and essential character, however, it was a philosophical club.”

21 A letter To Richard Price, Aug. 16, 1784, Vol. 37: Unpub. 1784–85, www.franklinpapers.org/franklin/

22 The Easy club was associated most closely with the poet Allan Ramsay who had formed in 1712 a club for the mutual improvement in conversation, which promoted fellowship with the polite part of mankind (Mc Elroy).

23 Hamilton (July 27): “At night I went to the Physical Club at the Sun Tavern, according to appointment, where we drank punch, smoaked tobacco, and talked of sundry physical matters.”

24 A mystery persisted until American scholar George Boudreau identified ten years ago the twelfth member whose name never appeared in Franklin’s notes.

25 In two recent studies on the political and cultural role of associations, Jessica Choppin Roney and Albrecht Koschnik have emphasized the local particularities of Pennsylvania sociability and offered a rich account of Philadelphia civic and political life before and after the American Revolution.

26 His travel narrative was published in four parts in the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (1877–1878).

27 “The Governour gives them his presence once a week, which is generally upon Wednesday, so that I did not see him there” (June 8). The Governor of the time was George Thomas (Deputy Governor from 1738 to 1747).

28 Hamilton’s taste for music will express itself in the songs performed during the Tuesday Club’s rituals and composed for the club by Rev. Thomas Bacon.

29 Hamilton (June 15): “After supper they set in for drinking, to which I was averse, […] They filled up bumpers at each round, but I would drink only three, which were to the King, Governour Clinton, and Governour Bladen, which last was my own. Two or three toapers in the company seemed to be of opinion that a man could not have a more sociable quality or enduement than to be able to pour down seas of liquor, and remain unconquered, while others sank under the table. I heard this philosophical maxim, but silently dissented to it.”

30 For both a conceptual and national approach of elites, see the works by T. B. Bottomore; G. Parry; P. Stanworth & A. Giddens. Milner revamps the "elite paradigm" by redefining "the most common varieties of elites and non-elites and the related patterns of cooperation and conflict in different historical periods."

31 Contrary to the middle and southern colonies, Massachusetts remained a predominantly ‘agrarian economy’, despite the growth of trade through the main seaport of Boston.

32 For a clear description of the role of colonial governors, see Van Ruymbeke 527-28.

33 Jonathan Boucher mentions the Homony club: “Three or four social and literary men proposed the institution of a weekly club, under the title of The Homony Club, of which I was the first president. It was, in fact, the best club in all respects I have ever heard of, as the sole object of it was to promote innocent mirth and ingenious [sic] humour. We had a secretary, and books in which all our proceedings were recorded ; and as every member conceived himself bound to contribute some composition, either in verse or prose, and we had also many mirthfully ingenious debates, our archives soon swelled to two or three folios, replete with much miscellaneous wit and fun. I had a great share in its proceedings; and it soon grew into such fame that the Governor and all the principal people of the country ambitiously solicited the honour of being members or honorary visitants” (66-67).

34 Five additional members were elected subsequently; this new group included two more Harvard graduates and, in addition to another lawyer and another man of business, added two sea captains and a schoolteacher to the membership. Harvard was created in 1636 and would remain the only university in the colonies to deliver degrees from 1642 until 1753 when it was joined by the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia (though founded in 1693). Until the American Revolution, half of the colonists who graduated studied at Harvard. In 1750, only 3 universities comprised 42 students and in 1770, there was a total of 133 graduates from 8 different universities (Van Ruymbeke 612).

35 Blumin argues that there were in fact distinct clusters of leadership groups (209).

36 In London for example, the Whig politician Charles James Fox was an eminent member of Brooks’s (1765), an elite gambling club founded in 1762, became a member of the Society of Dilettanti (1769), a select society created in 1734 gathering young aristocrats who shared the experience of having made the Grand Tour of Italy, and joined Johnson’s Literary Club (1774) or The Club, a famous dining club devoted to conversation, founded by Johnson and Joshua Reynolds in 1764.

37 The Lunar Society (1765–1813, originally "Lunar Circle") was a Birmingham learned society gathering prominent natural philosophers, scientists, industrialists such as Matthew Boulton, Erasmus Darwin, Thomas Day, Josiah Wedgwood, Joseph Priestley, etc. The society gained its name as its monthly meetings were always scheduled for the Monday nearest to the full moon, the better light helping to ensure the members a safer journey home along the dangerous, unlit streets.

38 The OED gives a definition of a faction as “a small organized dissenting group within a larger one, especially in politics”. Samuel Johnson’s defined it as “a party in a state” and associates it to ‘tumult; discord ; dissension” in his Dictionary of the English Language (1755).

39 Sir William Keith (1669–1749), a Scottish Jacobite, was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the Colonies of Pennsylvania and Delaware from 1717 to 1726.

40 James Logan (1674–1751), an Irish-born Quaker, served as colonial secretary to William Penn and was elected Mayor of Philadelphia in 1722.

41 For a precise analysis of Pennsylvania’s political factions in the 1720s, see Wendel.

42 The Union Fire Company was directly inspired by the mutual aid clubs (among which fire clubs) that flourished in Boston at the same time. They had a specific charitable nature and purpose, and cannot be considered as clubs, as defined according to the British model of social gentlemen’s clubs. The American Philosophical Society was a learned society which gathered “Virtuosi or ingenious Men residing in the several Colonies” (Franklin, A Proposal for Promoting Useful Knowledge, May 14, 1743).

43 Alexander Hamilton to Gavin Hamilton, June 13, 1739, Dr. Alexander Hamilton Letterbook, Dulany Papers. MS.1265. Maryland Historical Society.

44 A letter From Richard Price, Nov 18, 1782, Vol. 37: Unpub. 1782-83, www.franklinpapers.org/franklin/

45 Marienstras points to the importance for colonial agents to preserve and build matrimonial connections and networks with their Mother country, thus promoting a cohesion of interest and culture (108).

46 The Loyalists are the Winslows, Thomas, Cushman and White; the Patriots are the Lothrops, Angier, Mayhew, and Scammell ("Records of the Old Colony Club").

47 There is evidence of the existence of clubs in the Caribbean, some of which were directly inspired by the metropolitan model: while travelling to Barbados in 1751, George Washington recorded an invitation to the Saturday dinner of a club called the Beefsteak and Tripe Club, another local version of the illustrious British Sublime Society of Beefsteaks (1735). Friday, November 9th, 1751, Daily Journal (49-50).

48 See Marienstras (26) referring to Zuckerman: “the very effort to preserve traditional precepts and practices provoked innovation” (194).

49 See Peter Clark’s two tables showing the expansion of clubs in the English-speaking world (128, 132).

50 And “those colonies are, on all such occasions, esteemed as a branch of part of ourselves, and of the British government.” Chap 26 "Of The Inland Trade Of England, Its Magnitude, And The Great Advantage It Is To The Nation In General," The Complete English Tradesman 1: 255.

51 One of the most important ethnic societies in colonial America was the St Andrew’s Society, a Scottish charitable organization in Philadelphia, whose archives are kept at the American Philosophical Society ("St. Andrew's Society of Philadelphia minutes and accounts, 1749–1843," Mss.361.Sa2). For more examples of ethnic associations, see Peter Clark 302.

52 The question is raised by Marienstras: “Les colons sont-ils en voie de devenir des ‘créoles’ issus d’une métropole dont ils ont gardé des souvenirs nostalgiques, mais qu’ils ont dû renier parce que leur société se constituait sur des bases raciales, culturelles et sociales différentes?” (46).

53 While clubs were also created in Canada as well as in the Caribbean, they started a century later in India: among them the Bengal Club created in 1827 in Calcutta, the Madras Club in 1831, the Byculla Club in 1833 in Bombay.

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Valérie Capdeville, « Transferring the British Club Model to the American Colonies: Mapping Spaces and Networks of Power (1720-70)” », XVII-XVIII [En ligne], 74 | 2017, mis en ligne le 31 décembre 2017, consulté le 27 mai 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/1718/867 ; DOI : 10.4000/1718.867

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Valérie Capdeville

Valérie Capdeville is a Senior Lecturer in British Civilisation at the University of Paris 13. She is affiliated to the PLEIADE (EA 7338) research laboratory and a member of the SEAA 17-18. Specialised in eighteenth-century British social and cultural history, her work explores urban sociability and more particularly the phenomenon of gentlemen’s clubs. She is the author of L’Âge d’or des clubs londoniens (1730-1784) (Champion, 2008) and co-edited Les Espaces de sociabilité (Le Manuscrit, 2014). Her current research investigates the construction and exportation of the British club model to the colonial Empire (1720-1850), starting with the study of its modes of transfer and progress in colonial America.

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