Vincent T. Harlow introduced the idea of ‘two British Empires’. The first began with the foundations of the settlements in America in the seventeenth century, the establishment of British power in the West Indies, exploration in the Pacific, and the development of trading networks in Asia and Africa. The ‘second British Empire’ dated from 1783 and reflected the nature of imperialism that came after the American War of Independence.1 Whilst this change conveys the idea of a turning point for Britain in America, no account was taken of the continued growth of a considerable British overseas empire elsewhere, particularly in India, which took place between the 1750s and early 1800s. A focus on the Americas also obscures the long-term economic influence of the industrial revolution, which can be traced back to the early eighteenth century.
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