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   Chapter 17 1780).

Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 2870

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


[Sidenote: William Pitt.]

[Sidenote: Campaign of 1758.]

Few characters in history are indispensable. From William of Orange to William Pitt the younger there was but one man without whom English history must have taken a different turn, and that was William Pitt the elder. In 1757 he came forward as a representative of the English people, and forced his way into leadership by the sheer weight of his character. He secured a subsidy for Prussia, which was desperately making head against France, Austria, and Russia in coalition. He made a comprehensive plan for a combined attack on the French posts in America. He organized fleets and armies. He was able to break through the power of court influence, and to appoint efficient commanders. The first point of attack was Louisbourg, the North Atlantic naval station of the French. Since its capture by the New Englanders in 1745 (Colonies, § 127) it had been strongly fortified. An English force under Amherst and Wolfe reduced it after a brief siege in 1758. The attack through Lake George failed in consequence of the inefficiency of the English commander, Abercrombie, but the English penetrated across Lake Ontario and took Niagara. Nov. 25, 1758, Fort Duquesne was occupied by the English, and the spot was named Pittsburg, after the great minister. For the first time the tide of war set inward towards the St. Lawrence.

[Sidenote: Capture of Quebec.]

It is not evi

dent that at the beginning the English expected more than to get control of Lake Champlain and of the country south of Lake Erie. The successes of 1758 led the way to the invasion, and eventually to the occupation, of the whole country. France sent thousands of troops into the European wars, but left the defence of its American empire to Montcalm with 5,000 regulars, 10,000 Canadian militia, and a few thousand savage allies. England, meanwhile, was able to send ships with 9,000 men to take Quebec. No exploit is more remarkable than the capture of that famous fortress. It was the key to the whole province; it was deemed impregnable; it was defended by superior numbers. The English, after vain attempts, were on the point of abandoning the siege. Wolfe's resolution and daring found a way over the cliffs; and on the morning of Sept. 13, 1759, the little English army was drawn up on the Plains of Abraham outside the landward fortifications of the city; the fate of Canada was decided in a battle in the open; the dying Wolfe defeated the dying Montcalm, and the town surrendered. The fall of the rest of Canada was simply a matter of time. One desperate attempt to retake Quebec was made in 1760, but the force of Canada had spent itself. The 2,400 defenders of Montreal surrendered to 17,000 assailants. The colony of New France ceased to exist. For three years English military officers formed the only government of Canada.

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