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Book #2: Settlement, Revolution & War. TOC
Part 2, "Revolution And The 14th Colony" TOC
Ch. 4 - The Deep Roots of Discontent

The discontent may go back farther1, but we begin by pointing to an event which occurred on October 18th, 1748, at a table located in a grand building located in Aix-la-Chapelle, France. It was there that the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed. By its signing, England and France were to bring the War of the Austrian Succession to an end. The War of the Austrian Succession was a war which in part was fought in Nova Scotia.2 The principal effect of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was to return things back to the status quo anti. Thus it was, that one of the provisions of this treaty between the parties was the giving back of Louisbourg to the French.

That Louisbourg, a fortress which had taken the French thirty years to build, had been taken by the English, in 1745, was surprising enough, that it was captured by a band of untrained artisans and husbandmen commanded by a merchant, was, as the professional soldiers back in England thought, a feat against all odds.3 It was, nonetheless, an event celebrated at London. However, after a passage of a brief period of time, this victory, as a historical matter, was tossed aside as "a fluke." The English considered that Louisbourg was a worthless card, or so it seemed. The giving back of Louisbourg four years after its capture was to bring on, for the colonists of New England, feelings of anger and indignation -- "Was it not the blood and sweat of our sons which had captured it?"

"This impolitic act was one of Britain's most serious mistakes in America; for the restoration of Cape Breton to France re-armed Louisbourg against the British 'Colonies,' insulted the Colonial arms, and humiliated Colonial statecraft. Such indifference to the domestic security of British America, further illustrated by the abandonment of the invasion of Canada, indubitably impressed upon the Colonists the disadvantages and even the perils of the Imperial connection; and from the recession of Louisbourg to the French Crown may be dated the approach of the American Revolution."4
The attitude of the typical English aristocrat whether a member of the government at London or a regular officer in the military was one not much appreciated by the average colonial. It is an attitude that had long existed. A good example of the English attitude towards the colonials was when they captured Louisbourg in 1745. Most Englishmen believed in the doctrine of innate British superiority and felt they had good reason for their belief whether openly expressed, or not.5 British power and influence was world wide; she was in these times at her zenith.6

It is easy enough to demonstrate this superior attitude the typical English military officer had towards the colonial man.7 I need but repeat, at this place a paragraph from my earlier work. These incidents to which I will now refer took place at the Isthmus of Chignecto, just after English forces had taken Fort Beauséjour in 1755. These English forces were largely made up of militiamen raised at Boston and a small contingent of British regulars, the entire force being under Robert Monckton. John Winslow was in command of one of the two divisions of New Englanders. From my reading, Winslow was a fair and compassionate man. Picture, now, a 52 year old colonial gentleman and a 29 year old army officer from England.

"Colonel Monckton was a regular army officer, and, like all regular army officers, had little regard for the average colonial soldier. Why, -- he came right off the farm! Can it be expected, that, in a week or two, he can be turned into a real soldier. This lot at Chignecto, was, to Monckton, all too typical. Monckton was not only upset with their behavour but also with their appearance. In his orders of July 7th, as promulgated by his adjutant, we see: 'Col Monckton desires the officers commanding the two New England battalions take care that their captains provide their men with shirts and other necessarys who having observed many of them who have not changed their shirts since their first putting them on at Boston [six weeks back]. Likewise many of them he has taken notice are in great want of shoes & stockings.' Monckton's view of the New England officer was not much better. Though these militia officers had standing in their respective communities and some wealth due to their activities, oft as not, as merchants, they were still but rustic colonials. What did they know of military matters: they but pretend they know. There was of course the incident of August 14th which illustrates the point perfectly. Colonel Winslow had been then appointed by Governor Lawrence to take his battalion, at least in part, to Minas and superintend the deportation of the Acadians at that place. He, Winslow, was doing his march pass in front of Fort Cumberland (as the English had renamed Fort Beauséjour) when Monckton sent his adjutant, his assistant, Mr. Moncrieffe, to advise Winslow that it was not appropriate to be marching along with his standard unfurled, or some other such problem with the standard, as it didn't appear to suit Monckton's view of proper military protocol. Another example, was where, just after the French had signed the articles of capitulation, Winslow wrote Monckton, the next day, advising he 'should be glad of the favor of a copy of the capitulation that I [Winslow] may send it to my Col., Governor Shirley who doubtless will expect it from me.' To which Monckton, in a rather imperious manner replied, 'I shall despatch the vessel to Boston. You will be pleased therefore to send me your letters, and, as through my hands the terms of capitulation ought to be sent. You will be so good as to refer Governor Shirley to me on that head.'"8
Next we have the example of James Wolfe. This British war hero had a poor opinion of the Americans as soldiers. They were "not good for much." "Yankees ... are better for ranging and scouting than either work or vigilance." Wolfe wrote to his father, an army man:
"The Americans are in general the dirtiest, most contemptible cowardly dogs that you can conceive. There is no depending upon 'em in action. They fall down dead in their own dirt and desert by battalions, officers and all. Such rascals as those are rather an incumbrance than any real strength to an army. ... Too much money and too much rum necessarily affect the discipline of an army."9

Many an Englishmen, after it was clear that Great Britain had lost her colonies in North America, concluded that it was a big mistake for Great Britain to send her armies and to spill her wealth and blood in military operations in America during the years 1756-1763. Oh! Yes. The principal result of The Seven Years War was the defeat of the French in America. But the French, it was too late recognized, had kept the Americans loyal -- never had the colonists loved the mother country more than when the French and Indians were burning up the frontiers. Those who were fond of giving advice after the event pointed out that the colonists needed a strong hostile power on their borders to remind them of the dependence upon Great Britain and to keep them from developing illusions of grandeur. The fact that Americans had "no enemy but a few Savages to contend with," it was remarked in 1775, was "now the true cause of their assuming the important airs of a self-sufficient and powerful state."10


[NEXT: Pt. 2, Ch. 5., "New Politics."]

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