Item of the Day: History of the War with America, France, Spain, and Holland (1785)

Full Title: History of the War with America, France, Spain; and Holland; commencing in 1775 and ending in 1783. By John Andrews. In Four Volumes with Portraits, Maps and Charts. London: Published by his Majesty’s Royal Licence and Authority. For John Fielding, Pater Noster Row; and John Jarvis in the Strand, MDCCLXXXV.

 

INTRODUCTION.

NO Nation ever terminated a war more to its advantage and glory, than that which Great Britain carried on against the united powers of France and Spain, and concluded with the Treaty of Paris, in one thousand seven hundred and sixty-three.

The strength of the British nation had been conducted by the most spirited and fortunate Minister that ever presided over its councils, and had been exerted with a vigour and energy unexampled in any preceding aera; an uninterrupted series of successes attended it in every quarter of the globe, and victories followed each other by sea and land, that astonished all Eruope, and thoroughly subdued the spirit and broke the strength of the enemy.

The terms of the pacification that ended this memorable contest, though not so advantageous, in the opinion of some, as the state of this country on the one side seemed to claim and to expect, the depresst situation of its enemeis might, on the other, have sumbitted, still they were such as exalted the British monarchy to a degree of splendor and power that rendered it equally the envy, the admiration, and the terror of Europe.

By this treaty Great Britain remained entire mistress of the immense continent of North America, from the banks of the Missisippi [sic] to the shores of Greenland. She aquired several valuable islands in the West Indies, and established her power in the eastern parts of the world on such extensive foundations, as left her a decided superiority over all the European nations that have any trade or settlements in those distant countries.

But there were no few politicians, both at home and abroad, who thought they perceived in this spendid conclusion with France and Spain, infallible, though perhaps latent causes of much future mischief. The entire cession of the French possessions in North America, an immense tract, opened a wide field of speculation to people of a thinking dispostion.

While this prodigious extent of land remained in the hands of France, though it might seem a heavy curb to the industry and enterprizing temper of the British nation, it was, in fact, a boundary to the ambitious spirit of its Colonies. By restraining them within determinate limits, and keeping them in perpetual alarms, it obliged them to look continually for aid to the parent-state, and obviated all ideas of disobliging a people, of whose friendship and protection they stood in perpetual need.

It has even been surmised, that France itself fully saw the consequences of her cession of Canada to England, and that some fo the shrewdest of the French Ministry did not refrain from dropping some hints to this purport. However that might be, it may with great truth be said, that no profound penetration was necessary to discover, that the acquisition of the French North American possessions, by delivering the British Colonies from all apprehensions on that dangerous quarter, gave them immediately an ease security in their domestic transactions, to which they must for ever have been strangers; and, of course, excited a train of ideas, which they would not, and could not otherwise have harboured.

While the dread of France was present to their minds, ages would probably have elapsed before they would have thought of facing so great a power singly, and unsupported. The long habit of depending on the assistance of the parent-state would have been retained; and as protection and obedience are reciprocal, the connection that had so long subsisted between Great Britain and her Colonies, would, in all likelihood, have remained the same as before, unimpaired and unaltered, in every circumstance attending it.

To these considerations, others might be added of equal weight: –The state of the British Colonies at the Aera of the general pacification, was such as attracted the attention of all the politicians in Europe. Their flourishing condition at that period was remarkable and striking; their trade had prospered in the midst of all the difficulties and distresses of a war, in which they were so nearly and so immediately concerned. Their population continued on the increase, notwithstanding the ravages and depredations that had been so fiercely carried on by the French, and the native Indians in their alliance. All this shewed the innate strength and vigour of the constitution of the British Colonies.

The conclusion of the quarrel between Great Briatin and France, placed them immediately on such a footing as could not fail to double every advantage they already possest. –They abounded with spirited and active individuals of all denominations. They were flushed with the uncommon porosperity that had attended them in their commercial affairs and military transactions. The natural consequence of such a disposition was, that they were ready for all kind of undertakings; and saw no limits to their hopes and expectations.

As they entertained the highest opinion of their value and importance, and of the immense benefit that England derived from its connection with them, their notions were adequately high in their favour. They deemed themselves, not without reason, entitled to every kindess and indulgence which the mother-country could bestow.

Though their pretensions did not amount to a perfect equality of advantages and privileges in matters of commerce, yet in those of government, they thought themselves fully competent to the task of conducting their domestic concerns, with little or no interference from abroad. Though willing to admit the supremacy of Great Britain, they viewed it with a suspicious eye, and with a marked desire and intent speedily to give it limitaitons.

Their improvements in all the necessary and useful arts did honour to their industry and ingenuity. Though they did not live in the luxury of Europe, they had all the solid and substantial enjoyments of life; and were not unacquainted with many of its elegancies and refinements. . . .

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Filed under 1780's, England, Great Britain, History, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

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