Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 November 2006
This article explores mid-Georgian debates about the nature of citizenship by focusing on a key political scandal that has hitherto been overlooked by modern historians. In 1756, one of the many Hanoverian soldiers who were stationed in England was arrested for theft in Maidstone. The subsequent efforts to release him on the part of his military superiors and the British government created a political controversy that highlighted issues such as legal liberty, the abuse of executive power, home defence policy, and the moral state of the nation. In particular, this article argues that the furore gave weight to contemporary calls to reform the militia, not so much for instrumental military reasons, but for the supposed social and political benefits of an organization that relied upon the patriotic zeal and masculine virtue of the indigenous citizen. This article is therefore a contribution to the new cultural histories of politics that emphasize the roles of nation and gender in conceptions of citizenship, and argues that the Seven Years War was in this respect a moment of crucial importance.
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