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   Chapter 18 No.18

Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 5524

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


[Sidenote: European war.]

[Sidenote: George III.]

[Sidenote: The war continued.]

The conflict in Europe continued for three years after the colonial war was at an end. During 1758, 1759, and 1760 Frederick the Second of Prussia had held his own, with English aid; he was now to lose his ally. The sudden death of George the Second had brought to the throne the first energetic sovereign since William the Third. An early public utterance of George the Third indicated that a new dynasty had arisen: "Born and bred in England, I glory in the name of Briton." With no brilliancy of speech and no attractiveness of person or manner, George the Third had a positive and forcible character. He resented the control of the great Whig families, to whom his grandfather and great-grandfather had owed their thrones. He represented a principle of authority and resistance to the unwritten power of Parliament and to the control of the cabinet. He had virtues not inherited and not common in his time; he was a good husband, a kind-hearted man, punctilious, upright, and truthful. He had, therefore, a certain popularity, notwithstanding his narrow-mindedness, obstinacy, and arrogance. Resolved to take a personal part in the government of his country, he began by building up a party of the "king's friends," which later supported him in the great struggle with the colonies. In a word, George the Third attempted to restore the Crown to the position which it had occupied under the last Stuart. Between such a king and the imperious Pitt there could not long be harmony. The king desired peace with all powers, and especially with France; Pitt insisted on continuing aggressive war. In 1761 Pitt was forced to resign, and Frederick the Second was abandoned. A change of sovereigns in Russia caused a change of policy, and Prussia was saved. Still peace was not made, and in 1762 Spain joined with France in the war on England; but the naval supremacy of England was indisputable. The French West India Islands and Havana, the fortress of the Spanish province of Cuba, were taken; and France was forced to make peace.

[Sidenote: Question of Annexations.]

[Sidenote: Canada ceded.]

In the negotiations the most important question was the disposition of the English conquests in America. Besides the Ohio country, the ostensible object of the war, Great Britain held both Canada and the French West Indies. The time seemed ripe to relieve the colonies from the dangers arising from the French settlements on the north, and the Spanish colonies in Florida and Cuba. The ministry wavered between keeping Guadeloupe and keeping Canada; but if they were unable to deal with 8,000 Acadians in 1755, what should they do with 80,000 Canadians in 1763? Was the i

nhospitable valley of the Lower St. Lawrence worth the occupation. And if the French were excluded from North America, could the loyalty of the colonies be guaranteed? France, however, humbled by the war, was forced to yield territory somewhere; Canada had long been a burden on the French treasury; since concession must be made, it seemed better to sacrifice the northern colonies rather than the profitable West Indies. Choiseul, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, therefore ceded to England all the French possessions east of the Mississippi except the tract between the Amitic and the Mississippi, in which lay the town of New Orleans. The island of Cape Breton went with Canada, of which it was an outlyer. The wound to the prestige of France he passed over with a jaunty apothegm: "I ceded it," he said, "on purpose to destroy the English nation. They were fond of American dominion, and I resolved they should have enough of it."

[Sidenote: Louisiana ceded.]

Meanwhile, the Spaniards clamored for some compensation for their own losses. The English yielded up Havana, and kept the two provinces of Florida lying along the Gulf; and France transferred to Spain all the province of Louisiana not already given to England, that is, the western half of the Mississippi valley, and the Isle d'Orléans. The population was stretched along the river front of the Mississippi and its lower branches; it was devotedly French, and it was furious at the transfer. Of all her American possessions France retained only her West Indies and the insignificant islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon in the Gulf of St Lawrence. Thenceforward there were but two North American powers. Spain had all the continent from the Isthmus of Panama to the Mississippi, and northward to the upper watershed of the Missouri, and she controlled both sides of the Mississippi at its mouth. England had the eastern half of the continent from the Gulf to the Arctic Ocean, with an indefinite stretch west of Hudson's Bay.

[Sidenote: Interior boundaries.]

The interior boundaries of the English colonies were now defined by proclamations and instructions from Great Britain. A colony of Canada was established which included all the French settlements near the St. Lawrence. Cape Breton was joined to Nova Scotia. On the south Georgia was extended to the St. Mary's River. Florida was divided into two provinces by the Appalachicola. The interior country from Lake Ontario to the Gulf was added to no colony, and a special instruction forbade the governors to exercise jurisdiction west of the mountains. In Georgia alone did the governor's command cover the region west to the Mississippi. The evident expectation was that the interior would be formed into separate colonies.

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