In 1839 a disgruntled reader wrote to the United States Magazine, describing a trip he had recently taken to Philadelphia. ‘When I landed,’ he wrote, ‘I fancied I was in some city in the English dominions.’ On the wall facing the docks he saw a gigantic poster announcing that a portrait of the British Queen was still on show at the Masonic Hall. A little further on, in the window of a barber’s shop, he saw ‘a variety of hair brushes, with portraits of “Her Most Gracious Majesty” on them’. In the exchange he noticed a marble bust with familiar regal features; stopping to buy soap at a perfumer’s, he caught sight of a range of ‘Queen Victoria soaps’. The city, he complained, might as well be renamed ‘Victoriadelphia’.
Since the whole point of the American Revolution was to throw off the supposedly tyrannical rule of the old country, its excesses apparently embodied in the terrible despotism of George III, the enduring American love affair with the British monarchy has often puzzled foreign observers. In the Yale historian Frank