The crisis of Spain’s empire in 1810 contrasts sharply with the crisis of the British empire in 1776. In the latter, a group of North American colonies engaged in protracted disputes over their respective rights to authority until, after these disputes had escalated into violence in 1775-6, colonials joined together to declare a republic and fi ght for their independence. Although hopes of reconciliation persisted and colonials divided over their allegiances, the lines were clearly drawn. The American rebels affi rmed their sovereignty by creating their own provincial governments, which in turn sent deputies to the Continental Congress. While the Continental Congress sought to unite opposition to Britain, it also created a unifi ed military command, pooling provincial forces in the Continental Army under General Washington. Whitehall, on the other hand, responded to the colonial challenge by aiming to overcome the rebellion with overwhelming force. Britain, then at the meridian of its colonial power in the West, mounted a massive array of armed forces to assert its political authority. In late 1776, about two-thirds of the British army were deployed across the Atlantic: over 36,000 regulars, plus some 10,000 German troops, moved to North America, ready for large-scale, transregional campaigns. Supported by 70 naval vessels-about half the fi ghting ships of the large British navy-this represented the “largest projection of seaborne power ever attempted by a European state.” 1 Thus, the political crisis shifted into an arena for war in 1776 when the British government determined that it would crush colonial defi ance by an unprecedented use of force.