Daniel K. Richter is Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania and former director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies. His research and teaching focus on colonial North America and on Native American history before 1800. He is the author of Trade, Land, Power: The Struggle for Eastern North America (2013), Before the Revolution: America’s Ancient Pasts (2011), Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America (2001), and The Ordeal of the Longhouse: The Peoples of the Iroquois League in the Era of European Colonization (1992). He is also a coeditor of Beyond the Covenant Chain: The Iroquois and Their Neighbors in Indian North America, 1600–1800 (1987) and Friends and Enemies in Penn’s Woods: Colonists, Indians, and the Racial Construction of Pennsylvania (2004). He has been a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow and the Robert C. Ritchie Distinguished Fellow in Early American History at the Huntington Library. He is currently writing a book entitled "The Lords Proprietors: Land and Power in Seventeenth-Century North America."
If England’s King Charles II and his courtiers had their way, most of eastern North America would have been the personal property of about a dozen great men who dreamed of wielding virtually absolute power over their vast domains. Clearly things did not work out quite as planned for those who like to call themselves “Lords Proprietors.” This lecture discusses the competing forces at work—chartered corporations, ordinary colonists, and the Native Americans who actually owned the land—to explore a neglected chapter in the history of the English empire and why it still matters.