Today I talked to Lawrence B. A. Hatter about his book, Citizens of Convenience: The Imperial Origins of American Nationhood (University of Virginia Press, 2016). Citizens of Convenience documents how traders in the northern borderlands of the early American Republic constantly shifted sides between British and American nationalities for their own benefit. Or, at very least, the fear that this was happening. By exploring the loopholes created by treaties the nascent United States signed with Britain, Hatter shows that the U.S.-Canadian border was a critical site to America’s nation and empire building, and that the shifting loyalties of borderland residents threatened to derail this project.
Lawrence B. A. Hatter is Associate Professor of History at Washington State University. Hatter specializes in transnational history and Early American history.
Derek Litvak is a Ph.D. student in the department of history at the University of Maryland.
Derek Litvak is a PhD candidate at the University of Maryland—College Park. His dissertation, "The Specter of Black Citizens: Race, Slavery, and Citizenship in the Early United States," examines how citizenship was used to both bolster the institution of slavery and exclude Black Americans from the body politic.