OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

The Trans-Atlantic Problem: Great Britain, France, Spain.


Modern History. (a.d. 1492-1898). Peace of Westphalia to French Revolution (1648-1789).
Pages: <1> 2

The earliest European colonisation of North America, apart from Mexico, was effected by the French. In 1534 Jacques Carrier, a navigator of St. Malo, made his way to the west coast of Newfoundland, and discovered Prince Edward's Island (afterwards thus named from Edward, duke of Kent, father of Queen Victoria), Anticosti, and other places. Cape Breton Island had its name from French fishermen of Brittany in search of cod. In 1535 Francis I., pleased with Cartier's success, sent him out with larger vessels, and the explorer sailed up the St. Lawrence to the Indian towns called Stadacona and Hochelaga, on the sites of Quebec and Montreal. Thus was Canada made known to the world, and Cartier heard from the friendly Algonquin and Huron natives something of the existence of great lakes and rivers to the west and south, in regions rich in game, rarely trodden by the foot of man. After passing the winter, Cartier took back to France some Algonquin chiefs who had been enticed on board, and this treacherous act, ending in their death in France prior to the explorer's next voyage, had a bad effect on the native feeling towards Europeans. Various efforts at colonisation failed from cold, famine, and disease, and we know nothing of Cartier after his return to France with survivors in 1544. Coligny made two useless attempts to found Huguenot colonies in the territory afterwards known as South Carolina and Florida. The first settlement was abandoned, and in 1565 the second party were all massacred by the Spaniards, "not as Frenchmen, but as Lutherans," as the Spanish commander declared. About this time French and British fishermen and traders were engaged with cod and furs and skins, and Frobisher and Davis, Baffin and Hudson, were exploring to the north for the "north-west passage to Asia. The massacre of Frenchmen at Fort Carolina was Avenged three years later, in 1568, by a special expedition whose leader, before he slew the guilty, said, "I do this not as to Spaniards, nor as to mariners, but as to traitors, robbers, and murderers." We may note that, in 1572, Francis Drake was attacking the Spaniards at Nombre de Dios and Darien, and that six years later the great navigator, on the first English voyage round the world, touched at the west coast of North America, and claimed part of the country for England as "New Albion." In 1583 Sir Humphrey Gilbert, landing at Newfoundland, took formal possession of the island for his country, and in the following year Sir Walter Raleigh sent out mariners who landed in the territory named Virginia. Attempts at colonisation failed, and we can only record the name of "Virginia Dare" as that of the first English child born in America.

It was under Henry IV'., in 1608, that the first permanent French settlement was made in America, with the foundation of a trading-post at Quebec by Samuel de Champlain. The name of this able, honest, energetic man was given to the lake which he discovered, whence the river Richelieu flows into the St. Lawrence. His character was that of an enterprising, chivalrous, brave adventurer who was enthusiastic for the conversion of the Indians, and for 30 years he was honourably connected with the colony which he established on a firm basis. The chief native tribes were the Algonquins, Hurons, and Iroquois, active, hardy people devoted to the chase, living in villages by subdivisions of clans subject to a sachem or civil chief, whose council was composed of the foremost warriors. Craft and cruelty are assigned to all these natives, estimated to number, at the period under review, only a few hundred thousand in the whole region between Hudson's Bay and the valley of the Mississippi. The sub-tribes of the Algonquins included those known by the names of Sioux, Ojibways, and Shawnees. The Iroquois or "Five Nations," including the Senecas and Mohawks, are the natives best known in the contests between British and French settlers, and were the people most prominent in courage, discipline, and cruelty, fighting on all sides with success, as deadly foes, for a long period, of the Europeans, in the ambuscades of irregular warfare, and in the murder of outlying settlers. Under a succession of viceroys of "New France," the Canadian colony made some progress, and the energetic Jesuit fathers soon appeared upon the scene, and became distinguished in missionary-work combined with exploration. Claude Allouez made his way to the regions north of Lake Superior. Marquette, voyaging down the Wisconsin in a birch-bark canoe, reached the Mississippi, passed the points where it receives the waters of the Missouri and of the Ohio (or Wabash), and first revealed that the great river had a southward course towards the Gulf of Mexico. The mouth of the river was reached in 1682 by one of the greatest French explorers in North America, Robert Cavalier, Sieur de la Salle, who claimed the southern territory for his sovereign under the name of Louisiana. In the reign of Charles I., from 1629 to 1632, Quebec was in possession of the English government, through seizure by Sir David Kirke, a Huguenot refugee, the Canadian colony being restored to France by the Treaty of St.-Germain-en-Laye. On Champlain's death, in 1635, there were only two or three hundred Europeans in French America, and the colony never attained any great success, mainly owing to the lack of settlers from Europe. Colbert made great efforts to increase the numbers and strength of the colonists by the dispatch of military settlers, and to promote prosperity by gifts of horses, sheep, horned cattle, and implements of tillage. Successful warfare was waged with the Iroquois, and trade grew in timber, fish, and furs. Towards the close of the 17th century, the attacks of the Iroquois, and outbreaks of scurvy and small-pox, caused the death of over 2,000 settlers, and in 1689, in the dreadful massacre of Lachine, near Montreal, some hundreds of men, women, and children perished. The French hold on North America was reduced to the posts at Quebec, Three Rivers, and Montreal, when the arrival of the able, courageous, and energetic soldier, Count de Frontenac, for a second term of office as governor, gave new life to the colony, now containing about 11,000 people.

Before dealing with British colonisation of the New World, we may note that in 1609 Captain Henry Hudson, an English navigator in the Dutch service, entered a harbour at the point now occupied by New York, and sailed up the river called by his name, in the hope of thereby reaching the Pacific. Five years later the Dutch settled, as New Amsterdam, the place which became New York. In 1638 a colony of Swedes and Finlanders founded a settlement, east of Maryland, as "New Sweden," but in 1655 it was conquered by the Dutch. The Hollanders, in turn, were driven out by the English in 1664, and that part of the coast remained in British possession. The foundation of British colonies in North America renown from British history. Between 1607, when Vuffiua was Connecticut, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. The colonists, coming from a land blessed with a large measure of constitutional freedom, lived under various charters and forms of government, subject to the British Crown, and mostly having their own legislative bodies. In spite of restrictions on trade due to the unwise commercial policy of the time, as expressed in the Navigation Acts, rapid progress was made by British settlers in the New World. Before the middle of the 17th century, Virginia had plantations extending 70 miles inland, and exported abundance of corn to the northern or New England settlements. The population of Massachusetts alone exceeded 30,000. Towards the end of the century, the Carolinas, enjoying a genial climate and a fertile soil, were reinforced by the arrival of some thousands of Huguenots, driven by religious persecution from France, and bringing with them to their new abode high moral conduct, good manners, and political, artistic, and agricultural, skill. In 1699 the North American colonies probably contained 300,000 people, chiefly in New England - or Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut-Virginia, Maryland, and New York. About one-sixth of the number were negro-slaves, mostly employed in the southern settlements, where the hotter climate precluded tillage by whites.

Acadie, or Nova Scotia, restored to France in 1632, was occupied by both British and French settlers, who quarrelled with each other about fish and furs, and shared in the contests which arose between their colonial countrymen in Canada and the British possessions. Little progress was made, and in 1686 there were barely 1,000 people, whose chief occupation lay in the fisheries. The European war between Louis XIV. of France and William III. involved the colonists in America. In February, 1690, the enterprising De Frontenac, governor of Canada, sent a force of French and Indians - from Montreal who assailed with success the settlers in New York and New Hampshire. Sharp reprisals were made, but an attack on Quebec was an utter failure both by sea and land. De Frontenac also waged warfare against the Iroquois, who were British allies, and the struggle between the French and English was only ended for a short time by the Peace of Ryswick in 1697. At this time France was in a strong position in North America, "as holding the country from Maine to Labrador, and the valleys of the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi, and as having a hold upon the great lakes. Hostilities were resumed in the "Queen Anne's War" of 1703 to 1713. The mariners of New England attacked every French settlement within easy reach of the coast. Frenchmen and Indians made sanguinary raids in Massachusetts. In 1711 a strong expedition from Boston, including 15 men-of-war and about 50 transports and store-ships, with seven British regiments and two battalions of Massachusetts militia, sailed to attack Quebec, while 2,000 men from other colonies marched overland. The enterprise, from lack of skill in both the military and naval commanders, was a disgraceful failure. Careless navigation threw eight transports on reefs in the St. Lawrence, with the loss of many sailors and 1,000 troops, the latter chiefly belonging to splendid regiments which had fought and conquered at Blenheim and Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet. This disaster gave a new lease of life to Canada, under a new governor, De Vaudreuil, who was careful to strengthen her defences for any future contest, and extended a line of western forts towards the Mississippi valley. On the other hand, an expedition from Boston captured Port Royal, in Acadie (Nova Scotia), in 1710, the name of the town being changed to Annapolis, in honour of the queen, and the Treaty of Utrecht, as we have seen, placed the country, with Newfoundland, and Hudson Bay and Straits, in British possession. The vast, vague region then known as Hudson's Bay Territory was claimed by the Company formed by Prince Rupert, under Charles II., and trading-posts were established at many points for barter with the Indian trappers and hunters in the trade of furs and skins. In the " King William's War" of 1690 to 1697, French expeditions captured Fort York and other posts, but the Treaty of Utrecht again made the Company masters of the whole coast. As regards north-western exploration, the Frenchmen named Les Verendryes, father and son, before the middle of the 18th century, were the first to explore, if not to discover, Lakes Winnipeg and Manitoba, the rivers Assiniboine and Saskatchewan, and a large extent of territory for hundreds of miles west and north of Lake Superior. Somewhat later, a British traveller, Samuel Hearne, reached the Great Slave Lake, and made his way to the Arctic Ocean, discovering the mouth of the Coppermine River; and the energetic and hardy Alexander Mackenzie, a native of the Highlands, in the service of the North-West Fur Company, a rival body to the Hudson Bay Company, voyaged in a birch-bark canoe from Lake Athabasca, in 1789, by the Slave River and.Great Slave Lake, to the Polar Sea, down the whole course of the great river that bears his name. In 1793 the same great traveller crossed the Rocky Mountains, and reached the Pacific Ocean at a point now in British Columbia. He had thus beaten all records in North America by arriving at the Oceans to the north and the west along routes previously unknown to Europeans.

Under De Vaudreuil, whose government of Canada ended with his death in 1725, the French colony remained at peace, and the population reached about 30,000 in number, engaged in the fur-trade, ship-building at Quebec, small industries in woollen and linen cloth and iron, and the export of timber, tar, pork, and flour to France and to her West Indian islands, in exchange for the manufactures of the home-country, and for the molasses, rum, and sugar of the tropical possessions in the Gulf of Mexico. Various causes rendered true prosperity impossible. An "Intendant" exercised a paternal system of rule in fiscal and other affairs. Religious intolerance excluded enterprising Protestants. A feudal system of land-tenure hampered tillage. There was little education, and small influx of new settlers from Europe. Under the marquis de Beauharnois, who was in power from 1725 to 1746, there was general peace in North America between the French and English, except in the last three years, when the "King George's War," connected with the War of the Austrian Succession, broke out. The French had already given clear signs of the policy which ended in their expulsion from North America as holders of dominion. In striving to keep the British to the coast, and to secure the sole command of the western regions, they erected forts at various points, as Fort Niagara on the southwest shore of Lake Ontario, and Fort Frederick (afterwards Crown Point) on Lake Champlain. In Cape Breton Island they held a strong position in the fortress of Louisbourg, from whose port privateers issued to prey upon British commerce in the neighbouring waters. In 1745 a powerful expedition, organised by Shirley, the energetic governor of Massachusetts, and aided by men-of-war from the West Indian squadron, carrying some thousands of New England troops, was dispatched against the enemy's stronghold. Bombardment quickly ruined the works, and forced a surrender after a siege of seven weeks. A strong expedition sent from France to recover the place was disabled by Atlantic storms, and the British colonies were feeling the benefit of the possession of Louisbourg when, with an imbecility which has often followed British conquests, the home-government, in the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748), restored the fortress to the French.

In 1753 it became clear that a crisis of affairs between French and English power and interests was approaching. M. Duquesne, the new French governor of Canada, had instructions to oppose a firm resistance to British advance towards the west, where a new "Ohio Company," formed in Virginia, with a royal charter, was commencing operations. In 1754 the French took possession of the rising buildings of a fort at the junction of the two rivers forming the Ohio, and completed it as Fort Duquesne. Other armed posts were constructed by the enemy, and a young Virginian officer, to be immortal later as George Washington, was forced to surrender a British defensive point.

>>> Next page >>>
Pages: <1> 2

Pictures for The Trans-Atlantic Problem: Great Britain, France, Spain.

Map. North america in 1783.
Map. North america in 1783. >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About