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Which European countries did not have a revolution in the aftermath of the French Revolution and why?

Which European countries did not have a revolution in the aftermath of the French Revolution and why?


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The French Revolution of 1789 initiated revolutions in a number of European countries, replacing the idea of a monarchy with the idea of a republic built on enlightment ideals. Which European countries escaped the turmoil and why?


Most of the government changes in the wake of the French Revolution were at the point of Napolean's (very effective) sword, and were ultimately undone by the sword as well.

Where you get dramatic internal-driven change wasn't really after the first French Revolution, but the Second (1848). This touched off a series of Liberal revolutions which today we might call a "European Spring", although over 50 countries all over the world were affected.

England itself escaped, probably because it already had a relatively Liberal government. Ditto for the Netherlands. Russia, I'm guessing was not quite ready. Their definitive revoultion had to wait for 50 years. The Iberian penenisula also escaped relatively unscathed, chiefly because they'd just finished similar wars a couple of decades earlier.

One of the lessons a lot of leaders (Bismark prominently excepted) took from 1848 was that having a relatively liberal government, like England and the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal, actually appeared to make your country more stable in such times. This caused a lot of "Liberal" reform to be voluntarily instituted over the next few decades.


Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth didn't have any revolution that was inspired by French one. Because of the strong belief in the ideas of enlightment among the court and nobility, in 1789 the country was already in the time of drafting their own constitution, what in 1791 was finalized with signing the Constitution of May 3.

That led to Polish-Russian War of 1792 that is also called War in Defence of the Constitution. The lose of it soon led to Second Partition of Poland, as Frederick William II of Prussia demanded Greater Poland as a recompense for cooperation in the coalition against French.

The reaction fow that was Kościuszko's Uprising in 1794, which was quickly followed by Third Partition and the end of Commonwealth of Poland (which was a new constitutional name of previous Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth).


The UK didn't have a revolution and still has (roughly) the same state.


Switzerland did not have a revolution after the French Revolution. It had had its revolution CENTURIES earlier, under William Tell.


Diane Piccitto, “On 1793 and the Aftermath of the French Revolution”

In 1789, many British radicals interpreted the early events of the French Revolution in mythic terms, as signs that a cataclysmic event, akin to the Christian apocalypse (entailing the renovation of the fallen world), was at hand—and that, paradoxically, human beings rather than God were the agents of this absolute change. However, two major events in 1793 undermined the optimism of these readings: the regicide of Louis XVI and the start of the subsequent Reign of Terror. These disturbing events left many radicals questioning the viability of revolution and, more specifically, the efficacy of violence in producing fundamental and widespread change for the better. Using William Blake’s America as a case study, this article examines how the violence of 1793 not only complicated and ultimately terminated the possibility of interpreting the revolutionary events in France as a fulfillment of the grand biblical narrative of human regeneration but also placed in doubt the potential for human interventions in the historico-political realm to ever initiate this new world.

Few persons but those who have lived in it can conceive or comprehend what the memory of the French Revolution was, nor what a visionary world seemed to open upon those who were just entering it. Old things seemed passing away, and nothing was dreamt of but the regeneration of the human race.

[1]The anticipation of revolutionary change that had been growing for many British radical writers during the American Revolution (1775-1783) had reached a feverish pitch by 1789, when the events of the French Revolution began. The formation of the National Assembly (17 June), the storming of the Bastille (14 July)—the “great symbolic act which has been associated with the revolution ever since” (Breunig and Levinger 13)—the approval of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (26 August), and the march on Versailles that led to the enforced relocation of the royal family to Paris (5-6 October) fired the imagination of many abroad regarding the political and spiritual future of Europe.[2] Yet while the spark of revolution in 1789 seemed to ignite the flames of a visionary world, the chilling events of 1793 began to extinguish them.[3]

British radicals viewed the French Revolution of 1789 not simply as a localized occurrence but also as a mythic event of worldwide importance, “as the portent of universal felicity” (Abrams 64). According to M. H. Abrams, “Richard Price and Joseph Priestley . . . led a chorus of prophets who invested the political events in France with the explosive power of the great Western myth of apocalypse, and so expanded a local phenomenon into the perfervid expectation that man everywhere was at the threshold of an earthly paradise restored” (331). The revolution, then, was interpreted as nothing less than the start of a total transformation of the world on par with the Second Coming of Christ and the Last Judgment, which would end history and return humanity to an uncorrupted, pre-fallen state where the ideals of liberty and equality would once again be a reality. This exuberant reading gave rise to an apocalyptic language that grafted the Christian myth of humanity’s restoration onto secular ideas of enlightenment and the progress of civilization to describe the momentous years in the late eighteenth century, suggesting that such a goal was in the process of being reached by one cataclysmic event—the revolution in France—that would make a decisive and final impact on the world.

This dual-edged apocalyptic discourse is evident in the writings of early supporters. In 1789, Price, like others, used prophetic imagery to frame the events unfolding in France as an extension and, indeed, escalation of the American Revolution. He proclaimed to “all . . . friends of freedom”: “And now, methinks, I see the ardor for liberty catching and spreading. . . . Behold, the light you have struck out, after setting AMERICA free, reflected to FRANCE, and there kindled into a blaze that lays despotism in ashes, and warms and illuminates EUROPE!” (18). In a revelatory moment that echoes that of John of Patmos in the Book of Revelation, whose vision includes a fiery and violent cleansing of the earth, Price envisioned America’s revolutionary fire traversing the Atlantic and spreading to France and then across the continent in “a diffusion of knowledge” about “the rights of men.” His image of Europe illuminated by the revolutionary “blaze” resonates with Revelation’s description of the new Jerusalem: “the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (21.23). Merging secular notions of enlightenment with the apocalyptic formation of the new Jerusalem, Price depicted the newly liberated world as one lit by the fires of revolution, whereby human action in the form of revolt against oppression functioned similarly to “the glory of God” in its illuminating potential.[4]

However, not everyone interpreted the spread of revolution as the spread of spiritual and political liberation. A year after Price’s infamous discourse, Edmund Burke, the strongest voice of the opposition, interpreted the fall of the ancien régime—namely, the French monarchy—as “[t]he usurpation which, in order to subvert antient institutions, has destroyed antient principles, will hold power by arts similar to those by which it has acquired it” (38), arts that are “savage and brutal” (39). Burke’s reading ominously foreshadowed the bloody events of the early 1790s, events that challenged the radicals’ optimistic politico-spiritual interpretation. Nevertheless, he too saw the events in France in cosmic proportions, declaring the French to be “wag[ing] war with Heaven itself” in a “monstrous tragic-comic scene” (23) that had the power to transform civilization for the worse.

Early on, Burke’s assessment elicited a number of critiques that focused on the need for a widespread overhaul of Europe’s socio-political systems and excused or validated the violence that would inevitably accompany this overhaul. Such validations stemmed in part from the biblical depiction of apocalypse and in part from the political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), whose writings underpinned many of the revolution’s ideals and condoned using violence as a means to unseat a tyrant: “Force alone maintained him force alone brings him down” (79). For instance, Mary Wollstonecraft, responding quickly to Burke, argued that he would have Europeans “reverence the rust of antiquity” (55) and ignore the fact that “[t]he civilization which has taken place in Europe has been very partial” (56), stating her case for the necessity of fundamental change for people of all classes, not just the upper echelons, in order to reclaim humanity’s “natural rights” (58). Implicitly dismissing the accompanying violence of the revolution, she accused Burke of taking an anti-Christian and anti-progressive stance in his opposition: “had you been a Jew—you would have joined in the cry, crucify him!—crucify him! The promulgator of a new doctrine, and the violator of old laws and customs, that . . . rested on Divine authority” (58). Using the language of anti-Semitism, Wollstonecraft paints Burke as an apostate who renounces Christian salvation by resisting the revolution and Enlightenment ideals of advancement, an action she compares to the denouncement of Jesus, a revolutionary figure who ushered in a new era. At the same time, this negative comparison infuses the revolution with “Divine authority” and saving potential.[5]

Employing a more secular discourse, Helen Maria Williams asked rhetorically, “[W]here do the records of history point out a revolution unstained by some actions of barbarity?” (81), thus drawing on historical precedent to excuse the violence—“a few shocking instances of public vengeance”—for the attainment of “the liberty of twenty-four millions of people” (82). Likewise, in early 1791, Thomas Paine maintained his support for deep-seated change, declaring “the original establishment . . . too abominably filthy to be cleansed, by any thing short of a complete and universal revolution” (74). Taking up the view of the revolutionary moment as cataclysmic, he stated, “What were formerly called Revolutions, were little more than a change of persons, or an alteration of local circumstances. . . . But what we now see in the world, from the Revolutions of America and France, are a renovation of the natural order of things, . . . combining moral with political happiness,” a renovation with “universal” scope (87). Borrowing the heightened language of biblical apocalypse, Paine suggested that the transformative power of these “real” revolutions had a spiritual aspect. Indeed, the fervour of the responses both in favour of and opposing the revolution reveals what Southey’s reminiscence more than three decades later does: the general view of the French Revolution was that it had the power, for better or worse, to precipitate “the end of an entire form of civilization” (Mee and Fallon 4).[6]

What is significant for my reading of 1793 is not simply the millenarian expectations that surrounded the revolution but the fact that supporters believed it was a cataclysmic event being actualized by human hands rather than divine ones—“apocalypse by revolution”—a “secular means of renovating the world” (Abrams 334). While British writers were producing texts that described the events in France in terms of this secularization of apocalyptic agency (although some, such as Price and Wollstonecraft, continued to invoke Christianity to validate the cause), the French, the human actors of the revolution, were actually wielding this new power. They demonstrated this shift in agency, “constructing a new world on the ashes of the old” (Breunig and Levinger 58), by, for example, standing against the king and even implementing the (short-lived) Revolutionary Calendar (October 1793). Year I began not with the birth of Christ but with the official renunciation of the monarchy and the pronouncement of the French Republic on 22 September 1792. In addition, the new calendar abolished Sundays in an attempt to eradicate religious influences and secularize the nation.

Actions such as the creation of the Revolutionary Calendar and the dethronement and execution of the king exemplified the ways the French challenged and appropriated divine power, including the divine right of justice and vengeance. Indeed, Slavoj Žižek argues that this appropriation resulted in what he calls divine violence. He explains divine violence as follows: “God himself has lost his neutrality and ‘fallen into’ the world, brutally intervening, delivering justice. ‘Divine violence’ stands for such brutal intrusions of justice beyond law” (Violence 151). This image of the fallen deity who enters human history serves as a mythic explanation for what happens when the masses violently transgress the law to obtain a justice that the law (and God) has failed to produce. According to Žižek, “Divine violence should thus be conceived as divine in the precise sense of the old Latin motto vox populi, vox dei [the voice of the people (is) the voice of God]: . . . the heroic assumption of the solitude of sovereign decision. It is a decision (to kill, to risk or lose one’s own life) made in absolute solitude, with no cover in the big Other” (171). In other words, God falls and thus enters His obsolescence the moment individuals take it upon themselves to intervene in such a way that shakes the foundations of society. God not only falls, but He also fails to effect justice. Thus, divine violence is “the sign of the injustice of the world, of the world being ethically ‘out of joint’” (169), with no God in sight to realign it. Paradoxically, then, divine violence must be implemented by human hands to correct the imbalance.

Within this framework of divine violence, Southey’s description of the events in France in 1789 suggests that the off-kilter world was being set right again through revolt. The French Revolution would not simply anticipate the Christian apocalypse it would, in fact, activate its own apocalypse without the need for divine intervention. Indeed, Southey’s interpretation of the revolutionary moment—that “a visionary world seemed to open upon those who were just entering it” (52)—implies a causal connection between the apocalyptic event and the deeds of the human actors. Read as a metaphor for the efficacy of action, his account of the formation of a new world at the point in which humans enter into that world indicates they were creating a new order of things by collapsing the ancien régime and challenging tyrannical forms of government. For Žižek, this enacting of the Christian apocalypse by mortal beings is the essence of divine violence: it is “the Judgement Day for the long history of oppression, exploitation, [and] suffering” (Introduction xi), with “the Last Days” signifying the time “an out-of-joint world will finally be set straight” (Violence 158) by people and not by God. Similarly, for many British writers like Southey, human beings were creating their own cataclysmic event to halt the progress of history and its injustices without divine aid. This singular moment in history was thought to be heralding the eternal now, a return to paradise, where fallen humanity would be redeemed. To live through the exhilaration of 1789 was to live with one foot in time and space and the other in the eternal and the infinite it was to live in two imbricating worlds: the everyday one and the visionary one of a new order of things.

But the vision did not last. As the violence escalated, the rallying cry of “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” could no longer impel many to justify the means by the ends. The September Massacres of 1792 that followed the storming of the Tuileries in Paris (where the King and Queen had been relocated from Versailles) and the subsequent slaughtering of political prisoners functioned as preludes to the disillusioning events of the following year. 1793 became a key juncture in the revolution. It began with the execution of King Louis XVI (21 January)[7]—prompting Britain to sever diplomatic relations with France, leading to declarations of war by the two countries—and culminated with the Reign of Terror (5 September 1793 – 27 July 1794), which resulted in the execution of the Queen (16 October), many suspects of treason, and members of the Girondins, the more moderate faction that the radical Jacobins brought down earlier in the year (2 June). The Terror finally ended on 27 July 1794 with the overthrow of Maximilien Robespierre, who was guillotined the next day.

This Terror had its roots in the formation of the Committee of Public Safety (6 April 1793), eventually led by Robespierre (August), who spoke of the “salutary terror of the people’s justice” (65)—an “inflexible justice” (125)—in the face of tyranny. The decisive inaugural event occurred on 5 September when the National Convention (France’s ruling body from 1793 to 1795) officially put into effect terror measures in order to subdue opposition to and punish insufficient support for the revolution and the new regime. Such measures manifested themselves in, for example, the implementation of the Law of Suspects (17 September), “which mandated that any ‘enemy of liberty’ could be accused of treason,” including not only those who explicitly rejected the revolution but also those who did not explicitly support it, thereby “equating neutrality with treason” (Breunig and Levinger 40). From the autumn of 1793 until the summer of 1794, thousands of people across the country were imprisoned and executed under the ruthless leadership of Robespierre. The guillotine, particularly the one in Paris’s Place de la Révolution, served as the bloody emblem of the government’s fear tactics. The violence and bloodshed escalated to such a point that whole-hearted support by even the most radical of supporters became difficult to maintain, prompting many to lose faith in the divine potency of human action in the material realm and the promised “regeneration of the human race” (Southey 52).[8]

Figure 1: Title Page of William Blake's _America_

Similar to Southey’s statement, which implies that an apocalypse can be accomplished by human hands, Blake’s America suggests that the revolution is fought not only in the divine or mythic domain but also in the domain of human history. The war between revolutionary and tyrannical forces personified in the conflict between the mythopoetic figures Orc and Urizen parallels the war between American citizens and British forces. Like other writers of his time, then, Blake champions the idea that the power to create a new world order lies in human hands:

Fury! rage! madness! in a wind swept through America
And the red flames of Orc that folded roaring fierce around
The angry shores, and the fierce rushing of th’inhabitants together:
The citizens of New-York close their books & lock their chests
The mariners of Boston drop their anchors and unlade
The scribe of Pensylvania casts his pen upon the earth
The builder of Virginia throws his hammer down in fear.
Then had America been lost, o’erwhelm’d by the Atlantic,
And Earth had lost another portion of the infinite,
But all rush together in the night in wrath and raging fire
The red fires rag’d! the plagues recoil’d! then rolld they back with fury
On Albions Angels. (14.25-15.1, 56)

Overseen by Orc, “the fierce Americans rushing together in the night” (15.12, 57) combat oppressive forces, employing violence to challenge violence. The text ends with the promise of Orc’s return as he manifests himself in France to overthrow Urizenic powers once again, something that entails a complete renovation of human perception, and, implicitly, of the world itself. Such a conclusion appears to do more than endorse the use of violent methods in order to achieve a total historico-political transformation it appears to celebrate it.

Furthermore, it is significant that Blake specifically identifies the revolutionaries—New Yorkers, Bostonians, Pennsylvanians, and Virginians—who beat back the oppressive forces of the East. Historical figures such as George Washington, Thomas Paine, and John Hancock are also named in the text and initiate battles of their own against British forces, just as Orc grapples with Urizen’s and Albion’s Angels. Without the resistance of these historic personages and the citizens of the American colonies to the English forces, America would have been crushed. “Then had America been lost,” and the result would have been that the “Earth had lost another portion of the infinite,” showing that the cost would have been levied on a historico-political level as well as on a mytho-spiritual level. America’s victory secures that part of the world that is eternal, its divine spark. In preserving the infinite through its actions, then, humanity demonstrates its divine power.

In this light, Orc and the revolutionary throngs can be seen as manifestations of Žižek’s divine violence, as well as reflections of Blake’s rejection of orthodox Christianity, which he appropriates in his own mytho-historical text. If “divine violence is a sign of God’s (the big Other’s) own impotence” (Violence 170 original emphasis), then not only has God failed humanity, but He is also revealed to lack potency in human affairs humans must take their destiny in their own hands. “[T]he fierce Americans” represent the human signifiers of Orc’s mythic violence, the “vox populi, vox dei.” Such a reading suggests that the masses take on “the terrible burden of freedom and responsibility for the fate of divine creation, and thus for God himself” (Žižek, Violence 157), as their salvation of a “portion of the infinite” indicates (Blake 14.33, 56). In 1789, this “freedom and responsibility” seemed less like a “burden” and more like divine potency. But, by 1793, this divine potency was translated into the burden of history and human failings, exemplified in relentless and unjustifiable brutality it became a freedom and responsibility difficult to bear.

Despite the apparent power of Orc in mythic and in historic realms, America demonstrates how maintaining confident and unquestioning optimism in the positive potential of revolutionary action became impossible in 1793. Blake unsettles Orc’s promise of political and apocalyptic change by depicting him ambiguously. For instance, Blake uses the epithet “terror” for Orc (e.g., 5.2, 53 and 8.1, 54), inevitably echoing the revolutionary terror occurring in France while he was producing the text. Also, the work begins with a “Preludium” that draws a dualistic picture of Orc. There, the shadowy daughter, who is both freed and victimized by Orc’s violent actions, views the revolutionary moment as both welcome and disturbing: thanks to Orc, she “smiled her first-born smile” and is able to speak for the first time, but she also perceives their encounter as “eternal death and . . . the torment long foretold” (2.4, 2.17, 52).[10] The work’s equivocal view of revolution is exacerbated by the way Blake’s iconography draws parallels between what should be opposing entities: Orc and Urizen, freedom fighter and tyrant. Blake depicts them in the same physical pose (plates 8 and 10) and even places Orc’s speech beneath the image of Urizen (plate 8), obscuring the origin of the voice and complicating an interpretation of the revolutionary claims made. This representational ambiguity creates doubt as to Orc’s lasting effects.

Already qualified to some extent by the ambiguous depiction of Orc and his actions, revolutionary violence becomes much more questionable in Blake’s revisions of the text, especially in the Bard’s actions at the end of the two-plate Preludium. The introductory action ends with a curious moment of meta-narrative, a nameless Bard’s rejection of the poem itself:

The stern Bard ceas’d, asham’d of his own song enrag’d he swung
His harp aloft sounding, then dash’d its shining frame against
A ruin’d pillar in glittring fragments silent he turn’d away. (2.18-20, 52)

The Bard’s act of destroying the medium with which he has produced his shameful song suggests not only a rejection of the contents of America but also Blake’s frustration with poetic creation, namely his attempt to imaginatively depict the revolution. As a result, he turns toward silence rather than expression. Blake struggled between avowing and disavowing America, as is reflected in the insertion or deletion of the shattering-of-the-harp episode in various copies of the work over time. While the lines were engraved on the initial plates made in 1793, they were masked in the first printings.[11] The episode appears in only a few printed copies of the work, the first in 1795 and the last in 1821. The fact that Blake wrote the lines and then masked them demonstrates his conflict with how to present the contents of America to the public, a conflict that continued throughout his lifetime.

The problem of reading an event comes to the foreground in the Bard’s reaction and Blake’s vacillation between including and omitting the episode. Precisely how was one to understand the revolution? And how was one to reconcile an intense commitment to it after 1793? By representing the revolution in what can be read as divine violence, the Bard and Blake are left to wrestle with these questions, especially the question of violence’s efficacy. Part of the difficulty is that, as “a sign without meaning,” divine violence has “no ‘objective’ criteria enabling us to identify an act of violence as divine the same act that, to an external observer, is merely an outburst of violence can be divine for those engaged in it—there is no big Other guaranteeing its divine nature, the risk of reading and assuming it as divine is fully the subject’s own” (Žižek, Violence 169). Both the Bard and Blake find themselves in this dangerous territory, which explains the shattering of the harp and the impulse to unmask these lines. The price of divine violence is “the fear of the abyss of the act” (Žižek, Introduction xxvi), the fear that rather than ending history with an apocalyptic bang and paving the way for regeneration, the violence will fail to usher in the paradisal eternal now and be no more than brutality. Thus, there is no possibility of “displacing the blame onto some figure of the big Other” (xxv) because the act of appropriating His power has already evicted Him.

Arguably, the Bard’s disavowal of his song indicates disillusionment with the Urizen-Orc struggle. The end of the work shows Urizen’s suppression of Orc, “[h]iding” him away for “twelve years” (16.13-14, 57), possibly signaling the approximate time between the American and French revolutions. By beginning with an imprisoned Orc, who then frees himself and carries out a successful American Revolution, only to be captured before escaping to enact the French one, Blake depicts the fight between tyrant and rebel (and, indeed, all of history) as cyclical rather than progressive. The cycle imagery implies an unending series of revolutions, undermining the possibility of one absolute and final conflict and the viability of a human-made apocalypse. Citing the early years of the French Revolution, Žižek argues, “Since, after the revolutionary explosion of rage, full satisfaction never takes place and an inequality and hierarchy re-emerge, there always arises a push for the second—true, integral—revolution which will satisfy the disappointed and truly finish the emancipatory work” (Violence 158-59 original emphasis). But how can a “true” revolution be determined? What the struggle between the tyrannical institutions and the revolutionary masses effects is not, in fact, an apocalypse by human hands it is, as Blake says elsewhere, a “stand still,” where one is “unable to do other than repeat the same dull round over again” (There Is No Natural Religion 3). Tyrant and oppressed continue to war against and even replace each other—a revolution in another sense of the word. In 1793, the question that arose for those who had lived through 1789 (and continues to haunt revolutionary action today) was how to break the cycle and ensure a successful turn of events.

Moreover, the episode with the Bard resonates with Blake’s own earlier attempt to write about contemporary events. Two years before America, Blake began and then abandoned a poem called The French Revolution that addressed the events in France in a less opaque way by not employing the arcane figures from his own personal mythology. This aborted effort suggests that, by 1793, history alone was insufficient for Blake to examine the idea of revolution he needed the second lens of myth. But America itself is, arguably, an anomaly because it is the first and last of his illuminated works to interweave history and myth so extensively and explicitly.[12] In fact, myth began to dominate his later works, including the remainder of the continental prophecies, Europe and The Song of Los (consisting of Africa and Asia), only to be followed by the Lambeth prophecies, or Urizen books (started in 1794), which seem primarily concerned with retelling the events of Genesis and the Fall rather than historical events. In addition, historical persons no longer held a dominant place in the cast of characters.[13] Thus, after 1793, Blake distances himself from an interpretation of the French Revolution as divine violence, as a cataclysmic human intervention that would initiate the regeneration of humanity.

If “[t]ransgression is what makes historical beings of us,” as Terry Eagleton says of humanity’s fall from paradise (243), then, for many British radical writers, the French Revolution was to be the ultimate act of transgression that would put an end to history. However, by 1793, once-hopeful visionaries had to come to grips with the fact that they were irrevocably caught within history, that human hands had failed to materialize the eternal now, and that the events in France did not embody the human potential to usher in the apocalypse and transform the world. What radicals like Blake were faced with was how to maintain a faith in revolutionary ideals and human interventions when challenged with the by-products of violence and terror, something that was not at all clear in 1793, and something that is equally opaque and urgent today.

Diane Piccitto is Assistant Professor of English at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her publications include Blake’s Drama: Theatre, Performance, and Identity in the Illuminated Books (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), as well as Romanticism, Rousseau, Switzerland: New Prospects (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), which was co-edited with Angela Esterhammer and Patrick Vincent.

HOW TO CITE THIS BRANCH ENTRY (MLA format)

Piccitto, Diane. “On 1793 and the Aftermath of the French Revolution.” BRANCH: Britain, Representation and Nineteenth-Century History. Ed. Dino Franco Felluga. Extension of Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net. Web. [Here, add your last date of access to BRANCH].

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Beer, John. Romanticism, Revolution and Language: The Fate of the Word from Samuel Johnson to George Eliot. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. Print.

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Burke, Edmund. Letters on a Regicide Peace. 1796-1797. The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke. Vol. 9. Ed. R. B. McDowell. Oxford: Clarendon, 1991. 44-119, 187-386. Print.

—. Reflections on the Revolution in France. 1790. Mee and Fallon 19-50.

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Eagleton, Terry. Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic. Oxford: Blackwell, 2003. Print.

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—, eds. Romanticism and Revolution: A Reader. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. Print.

Paine, Thomas. Rights of Man. 1791. Mee and Fallon 70-88.

Price, Richard. A Discourse on the Love of Our Country. 1789. Mee and Fallon 12-18.

Robespierre, Maximilien. Robespierre: Virtue and Terror. Trans. John Howe. London: Verso, 2007. Print.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Discourse on the Origin of Inequality. 1755. Basic Political Writings. Trans. and ed. Donald A. Cress. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1987. 25-109. Print.

Southey, Robert. The Correspondence of Robert Southey with Caroline Bowles. Ed. Edward Dowden. Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, & Co. London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1881. Internet Archive. Web. 31 Oct. 2011.

Watson, J. R. Romanticism and War: A Study of British Romantic Period Writers and the Napoleonic Wars. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Print.

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Žižek, Slavoj. Introduction. Robespierre: Virtue and Terror. By Maximilien Robespierre. Ed. Jean Ducange. Trans. John Howe. London and New York: Verso, 2007. vii-xxxix. Print.

—. Violence. London: Profile Books, 2009. Print.

[1] A condensed version of this article appeared under the title “1793” in “Jahrgänge: Versuche über historische Gleichzeitigkeit,” the introductory essay to Zeitgenossenschaft/Le Contemporain/Contemporaneity, volume 19 (2011) of Variations: Literaturzeitschrift der Universität Zürich (18-21).

[2] The historical dates for the revolutionary events throughout this article are from Charles Breunig and Matthew Levinger’s The Revolutionary Era and William Doyle’s The Oxford History of the French Revolution.

[3] In both earlier Romantic scholarship (e.g., the work of M. H. Abrams) and more recent studies (e.g., J. R. Watson’s), this is a recurrent view of the reactions to the revolution and its aftermath: “the enthusiasm with which the fall of the Bastille had been welcomed in 1789 had been succeeded by a more doubtful and more measured approval, which, as the events unfolded, became more complicated” (Watson 39).

[4] Furthermore, Price explicitly connects Christian redemption with his contemporaneous moment when he quotes the Gospel of Luke (2.29-30): “What an eventful period is this! I am thankful that I have lived to it and I could almost say, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation. I have lived to see a diffusion of knowledge . . . [and] the rights of men better understood than ever” (18). Like Simeon who sees Jesus in the temple, Price is now ready to meet his maker because he, too, has looked into the face of humanity’s saviour, but this salvation arrives in the form of the French Revolution.

[5] Price had used similar rhetoric to implicitly endorse revolutionary action, stating that the “doctrines of passive obedience, non-resistance, and the divine right of kings” are not only “odious” but more importantly “a blasphemy against [God]” and “an insult on common sense” (18).

[6] In Political Justice, published 14 February 1793, radical writer William Godwin redefines the stakes of the debate on the French Revolution. By then, the question for him was not centered on the events in France themselves but on the best way to promote change in general: “No question can be more important than that which respects the best mode of effecting revolutions” (164). Godwin advocated not violence but rational discussion, stating, “The true instruments for changing the opinions of men are argument and persuasion. . . . If then we would improve the social institutions of mankind, we must write, we must argue, we must converse” (164-65). For Godwin, socio-political advancement would occur not with a cataclysmic event but with the “the still and quiet progress of reason” (165). Countering the apocalyptic view of revolutionary change, he claimed that one must be prepared “willingly to suffer the lapse of years before he urges the reducing his theory into actual execution” in order to achieve “the regeneration of his species” (165), the manifestation of equality and justice that the current corrupt state was suppressing.

[7] Even years after the guillotining of the king, the regicide had a key role in the debates about how to end the war with France, as is evident in Burke’s Letters on a Regicide Peace (1796-1797), where he vociferously attempts to dissuade his country from forming any kind of diplomatic relations with France by listing the dangers of seeking a peace with a government of king killers.

[8] In his introduction to a recent English translation of Robespierre’s speeches, Žižek explores the possibility of “emancipatory terror” (xxi) and offers a critical examination of “[t]he typical liberal attitude” and “its formula [of] ‘1789 without 1793,’” arguing that such a formula exemplifies a hope for “a decaffeinated revolution, a revolution which doesn’t smell of revolution” (vii).

[9] See Isaiah 11.6 and 65.25 for potential sources of this line.

[10] John Beer argues that Orc’s brutal act in the Preludium “is not an event preliminary to those which are to happen in the book itself, but an interpretive enactment of their meaning. The revolutionary violence involved in achieving independence is the distorting of an energy that might have made the union between Britain and America a fruitful marriage” (93). From the beginning of the work, then, the positive valence of the dispersal of Orc’s revolutionary energy is in doubt.

[11] As D. W. Dörrbecker explains, in copy G, which was likely the first copy of America that Blake printed, the sheets imprinted with the relief-etching of the copperplate originals show that these lines were erased, indicating that they were, indeed, composed/engraved along with the original text (74-75).

[12] I am not arguing that Blake’s later works avoid engagement with his historical moment—David Erdman convincingly showed that this is not the case rather, I am arguing that, at the level of narrative, Blake moves toward myth and away from explicit references to the people and events of his time.

[13] Blake’s epic poem Milton includes the seventeenth-century writer John Milton as the protagonist, but this construction of him is a mythic one.


Where does the name Paris come from?

The Parisii were a sub-tribe of the Celtic Senones, and they established themselves on the Île de la Cité, one of the remaining natural islands along the Seine, in the years between 250 and 225 BC. In 52 BC, the Roman army defeated the Parisii and established a Gallo-Roman city that they initially called Lutetia. By the time the Western Roman Empire fell in AD 476, however, the city was more commonly referred to as Parisius, a name that became Paris when translated from Latin to French.


5.1 Confronting the National Debt: The Aftermath of the French and Indian War

Great Britain had much to celebrate in 1763. The long and costly war with France had finally ended, and Great Britain had emerged victorious. British subjects on both sides of the Atlantic celebrated the strength of the British Empire. Colonial pride ran high to live under the British Constitution and to have defeated the hated French Catholic menace brought great joy to British Protestants everywhere in the Empire. From Maine to Georgia, British colonists joyously celebrated the victory and sang the refrain of “Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves! Britons never, never, never shall be slaves!”

Despite the celebratory mood, the victory over France also produced major problems within the British Empire, problems that would have serious consequences for British colonists in the Americas. During the war, many Native American tribes had sided with the French, who supplied them with guns. After the 1763 Treaty of Paris that ended the French and Indian War (or the Seven Years’ War), British colonists had to defend the frontier, where French colonists and their tribal allies remained a powerful force. The most organized resistance, Pontiac’s Rebellion, highlighted tensions the settlers increasingly interpreted in racial terms.

The massive debt the war generated at home, however, proved to be the most serious issue facing Great Britain. The frontier had to be secure in order to prevent another costly war. Greater enforcement of imperial trade laws had to be put into place. Parliament had to find ways to raise revenue to pay off the crippling debt from the war. Everyone would have to contribute their expected share, including the British subjects across the Atlantic.

PROBLEMS ON THE AMERICAN FRONTIER

With the end of the French and Indian War, Great Britain claimed a vast new expanse of territory, at least on paper. Under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, the French territory known as New France had ceased to exist. British territorial holdings now extended from Canada to Florida, and British military focus shifted to maintaining peace in the king’s newly enlarged lands. However, much of the land in the American British Empire remained under the control of powerful native confederacies, which made any claims of British mastery beyond the Atlantic coastal settlements hollow. Great Britain maintained ten thousand troops in North America after the war ended in 1763 to defend the borders and repel any attack by their imperial rivals.

British colonists, eager for fresh land, poured over the Appalachian Mountains to stake claims. The western frontier had long been a “middle ground” where different imperial powers (British, French, Spanish) had interacted and compromised with native peoples. That era of accommodation in the “middle ground” came to an end after the French and Indian War. Virginians (including George Washington) and other land-hungry colonists had already raised tensions in the 1740s with their quest for land. Virginia landowners in particular eagerly looked to diversify their holdings beyond tobacco, which had stagnated in price and exhausted the fertility of the lands along the Chesapeake Bay. They invested heavily in the newly available land. This westward movement brought the settlers into conflict as never before with Native American tribes, such as the Shawnee, Seneca-Cayuga, Wyandot, and Delaware, who increasingly held their ground against any further intrusion by White settlers.

The treaty that ended the war between France and Great Britain proved to be a significant blow to native peoples, who had viewed the conflict as an opportunity to gain additional trade goods from both sides. With the French defeat, many Native Americans who had sided with France lost a valued trading partner as well as bargaining power over the British. Settlers’ encroachment on their land, as well as the increased British military presence, changed the situation on the frontier dramatically. After the war, British troops took over the former French forts but failed to court favor with the local tribes by distributing ample gifts, as the French had done. They also significantly reduced the amount of gunpowder and ammunition they sold to the Native Americans, worsening relationships further.

Native Americans’ resistance to colonists drew upon the teachings of Delaware (Lenni Lenape) prophet Neolin and the leadership of Ottawa war chief Pontiac. Neolin was a spiritual leader who preached a doctrine of shunning European culture and expelling Europeans from native lands. Neolin’s beliefs united Native Americans from many villages. In a broad-based alliance that came to be known as Pontiac’s Rebellion, Pontiac led a loose coalition of these native tribes against the colonists and the British army.

Pontiac started bringing his coalition together as early as 1761, urging Native Americans to “drive [the Europeans] out and make war upon them.” The conflict began in earnest in 1763, when Pontiac and several hundred Ojibwas, Potawatomis, and Hurons laid siege to Fort Detroit. At the same time, Senecas, Shawnees, and Delawares laid siege to Fort Pitt. Over the next year, the war spread along the backcountry from Virginia to Pennsylvania. Pontiac’s Rebellion (also known as Pontiac’s War) triggered horrific violence on both sides. Firsthand reports of Native American attacks tell of murder, scalping, dismemberment, and burning at the stake. These stories incited a deep racial hatred among colonists against all Native Americans.

The actions of a group of Scots-Irish settlers from Paxton (or Paxtang), Pennsylvania, in December 1763, illustrates the deadly situation on the frontier. Forming a mob known as the Paxton Boys, these frontiersmen attacked a nearby group of Conestoga of the Susquehannock tribe. The Conestoga had lived peacefully with local settlers, but the Paxton Boys viewed all Native Americans as savages and they brutally murdered the six Conestoga they found at home and burned their houses. When Governor John Penn put the remaining fourteen Conestoga in protective custody in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the Paxton Boys broke into the building and killed and scalped the Conestoga they found there (Figure 5.3). Although Governor Penn offered a reward for the capture of any Paxton Boys involved in the murders, no one ever identified the attackers. Some colonists reacted to the incident with outrage. Benjamin Franklin described the Paxton Boys as “the barbarous Men who committed the atrocious act, in Defiance of Government, of all Laws human and divine, and to the eternal Disgrace of their Country and Colour,” stating that “the Wickedness cannot be covered, the Guilt will lie on the whole Land, till Justice is done on the Murderers. The blood of the innocent will cry to heaven for vengeance.” Yet, as the inability to bring the perpetrators to justice clearly indicates, the Paxton Boys had many more supporters than critics.

Click and Explore

Visit Explore PAhistory.com to read the full text of Benjamin Franklin’s “Benjamin Franklin, An Account of the Paxton Boys’ Murder of the Conestoga Indians, 1764.”

Pontiac’s Rebellion and the Paxton Boys’ actions were examples of early American race wars, in which both sides saw themselves as inherently different from the other and believed the other needed to be eradicated. The prophet Neolin’s message, which he said he received in a vision from the Master of Life, was: “Wherefore do you suffer the Whites to dwell upon your lands? Drive them away wage war against them.” Pontiac echoed this idea in a meeting, exhorting tribes to join together against the British: “It is important for us, my brothers, that we exterminate from our lands this nation which seeks only to destroy us.” In his letter suggesting “gifts” to the natives of smallpox-infected blankets, Field Marshal Jeffrey Amherst said, “You will do well to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets, as well as every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.” Pontiac’s Rebellion came to an end in 1766, when it became clear that the French, whom Pontiac had hoped would side with his forces, would not be returning. The repercussions, however, would last much longer. Race relations between Native Americans and Whites remained poisoned on the frontier.

Well aware of the problems on the frontier, the British government took steps to try to prevent bloodshed and another costly war. At the beginning of Pontiac’s uprising, the British issued the Proclamation of 1763, which forbade White settlement west of the Proclamation Line , a borderline running along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains (Figure 5.4). The Proclamation Line aimed to forestall further conflict on the frontier, the clear flashpoint of tension in British North America. British colonists who had hoped to move west after the war chafed at this restriction, believing the war had been fought and won to ensure the right to settle west. The Proclamation Line therefore came as a setback to their vision of westward expansion.

THE BRITISH NATIONAL DEBT

Great Britain’s newly enlarged empire meant a greater financial burden, and the mushrooming debt from the war was a major cause of concern. The war nearly doubled the British national debt, from £75 million in 1756 to £133 million in 1763. Interest payments alone consumed over half the national budget, and the continuing military presence in North America was a constant drain. The Empire needed more revenue to replenish its dwindling coffers. Those in Great Britain believed that British subjects in North America, as the major beneficiaries of Great Britain’s war for global supremacy, should certainly shoulder their share of the financial burden.

The British government began increasing revenues by raising taxes at home, even as various interest groups lobbied to keep their taxes low. Powerful members of the aristocracy, well represented in Parliament, successfully convinced Prime Minister John Stuart, third earl of Bute, to refrain from raising taxes on land. The greater tax burden, therefore, fell on the lower classes in the form of increased import duties, which raised the prices of imported goods such as sugar and tobacco. George Grenville succeeded Bute as prime minister in 1763. Grenville determined to curtail government spending and make sure that, as subjects of the British Empire, the American colonists did their part to pay down the massive debt.

IMPERIAL REFORMS

The new era of greater British interest in the American colonies through imperial reforms picked up in pace in the mid-1760s. In 1764, Prime Minister Grenville introduced the Currency Act of 1764, prohibiting the colonies from printing additional paper money and requiring colonists to pay British merchants in gold and silver instead of the colonial paper money already in circulation. The Currency Act aimed to standardize the currency used in Atlantic trade, a logical reform designed to help stabilize the Empire’s economy. This rule brought American economic activity under greater British control. Colonists relied on their own paper currency to conduct trade and, with gold and silver in short supply, they found their finances tight. Not surprisingly, they grumbled about the new imperial currency regulations.

Grenville also pushed Parliament to pass the Sugar Act of 1764, which actually lowered duties on British molasses by half, from six pence per gallon to three. Grenville designed this measure to address the problem of rampant colonial smuggling with the French sugar islands in the West Indies. The act attempted to make it easier for colonial traders, especially New England mariners who routinely engaged in illegal trade, to comply with the imperial law.

To give teeth to the 1764 Sugar Act, the law intensified enforcement provisions. Prior to the 1764 act, colonial violations of the Navigation Acts had been tried in local courts, where sympathetic colonial juries refused to convict merchants on trial. However, the Sugar Act required violators to be tried in vice-admiralty courts . These crown-sanctioned tribunals, which settled disputes that occurred at sea, operated without juries. Some colonists saw this feature of the 1764 act as dangerous. They argued that trial by jury had long been honored as a basic right of Englishmen under the British Constitution. To deprive defendants of a jury, they contended, meant reducing liberty-loving British subjects to political slavery. In the British Atlantic world, some colonists perceived this loss of liberty as parallel to the enslavement of Africans.

As loyal British subjects, colonists in America cherished their Constitution, an unwritten system of government that they celebrated as the best political system in the world. The British Constitution prescribed the roles of the King, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. Each entity provided a check and balance against the worst tendencies of the others. If the King had too much power, the result would be tyranny. If the Lords had too much power, the result would be oligarchy. If the Commons had the balance of power, democracy or mob rule would prevail. The British Constitution promised representation of the will of British subjects, and without such representation, even the indirect tax of the Sugar Act was considered a threat to the settlers’ rights as British subjects. Furthermore, some American colonists felt the colonies were on equal political footing with Great Britain. The Sugar Act meant they were secondary, mere adjuncts to the Empire. All subjects of the British crown knew they had liberties under the constitution. The Sugar Act suggested that some in Parliament labored to deprive them of what made them uniquely British.


The Treaty of Versailles (France), 28th June 1919

Main participants, France, Britain, US
This was held in Paris as France had suffered much more than any of the other Allies as Germany had occupied much of the extreme north of France north of Paris for the 4 years of the war and had destroyed many of the French towns and vital industries including the French coal fields. France wanted:-

  • Germany who was already bankrupt to pay for all the damage and compensate France for the long term loss of its coal fields by giving all the coal from the German Ruhr area to France.
  • France also wanted to forbid the Germans the right to re-build any war equipment like ships, guns, aeroplanes or tanks or to have an army of more than 100,000 troops who of course could not be properly armed.

The French got most of what they asked for even though the figures were so huge that Germany could never have paid. The internationally respected British economist John Maynard Keynes spelt out to France the reaction Germany would have to this in the years ahead but they would not listen. The result 20 years later was World War 2 when France found themselves totally under German occupation for 4 years until liberated by the US and the British Empire once again.

The Middle East
The treaty of Lausanne July 1923, the Sykes-Picot agreement, 1915/16 and the Balfour Declaration November 1917.
Britain and their Commonwealth supporters had convincingly conquered the Islamic Ottoman Middle East including retaking the Jerusalem from the Muslims , the first time since the Crusades 700 years before.

Iraq
Britain was authorised through a League of Nations Mandate re-create a stable state in this historic country the cradle of civilisation with a population of 30 million people in 500 BC. Iraq had been under Turkish Ottoman rule for the previous 400 years who being a Sunni empire had suppressed the Shia of Iraq to form a Sunni ruled state as a buffer against the warring Shia Iranians. Englands main preoccupation was to insure Iraqi (and Iranian) oil was available at a good price to fuel the British economy. Little time was spent on trying to understand the Sunni Shia problem and what would happen when the Arabs were left to themselves.

Palestine and Jordan
The British and French (messers Mark Sykes and Francois Picot) had been discussing the problems in the area on the basis that the war in the Middle East conflict against the Ottomans would be won as for back as 1915. They had agreed the French would take Syria and Lebanon and the British would take the rest, mainly Iraq above and Palestine and Jordan. The British had also been discussing creating a "Home for the Jews" with Jewish leaders including Lord Rothschild probably the wealthiest banker in the world and who had lived in England for most of his life. Britain and the US plus Holland were probably the only countries in the Christian world who did not murder and perpetually harass Jews. The original Biblical "Promised Land" in Palestine was the chosen centre. Lord Balfour had persuaded the British government to do all in their power to implement this decision for the sake of the Jews. Now Britain had the opportunity.

The Jews got their Biblical territory (except strangely the West Bank) but Israel is not recognised even today by many Muslim countries as is now obvious (Iran and Hamas in Gaza Palestine). The Arabs were rather sold down the line as the recognised ruler of Mecca Sharif Husain bin Ali who had been promised all lands between Persia and the Mediterranean would have found himself under British or French rule if he had not died in 1917. It is important to note that Husain wanted the capital of the Arab states to be Damascus in Syria not Jerusalem. His sons went on to rule Jordon and Iraq within the mandate.

Two astonishing English people should be mentioned who helped draw up plans for the State of Iraq both highly respected even today in Baghdad. Firstly Lawrence of Arabia who knew the country and the people better than any other non Arabic man. Lawrence died back in England possibly suicide when he realised the Arabs were not getting the country as they had been promised and a woman less known but equally if not better informed than Lawrence a Gertrude Bell. Bell had met with and worked with Lawrence but was respected even more by both the British and Arab leaders.

Bell born in Washington county Durham England, was the daughter of an English MP and with his influence went to Oxford and obtained a History degree. She was quickly on the move and travelled to Tehran in 1888 to visit her Uncle who was a minister there. She grew to be fascinated by the Desert and the people and became fluent in Persian and Arabic. In 1889 she visited Syria and Palestine and became a serious archaeologist writing many books and taking many photos very successfully with such a new medium in such harsh conditions. During the war she worked for the British government along with Lawrence in Cairo and helped him to persuade the desert Arabs to rise up against the Ottomans. She had a unique position and knowledge as being a woman she was invited to the homes of Arabs, met their wives and heard news that nobody else could obtain. It was Winston Churchill who asked her to draw up the boundary lines for the new Iraq and she only disagreed with Lawrence over whether to include the Kurds or not.

The British Isles
At home in the British Isles then, England, Scotland, Wales and all Ireland the latter had being fighting England for Home Rule for 50 years and on and off for the previous 300 years. After the war they achieved it in part as the Catholic South was ideologically never comfortable being ruled by Protestants. The northern 25% who had been planted there from Protestant Scotland in Elizabethan/Jacobean times wanted to stay in the Union and Northern Ireland was born. There followed almost 100 years of bloody sectarian infighting with uncomfortable likeness to the religious conflicts in the Middle East.

Britain
In what is now called Great |Britain and Northern Ireland women who had done men's work during the war were finally given the right to vote alongside men and the slow battle for equality with men in the work place and in the home commenced. That battle is now largely won.

The British Labour party which had grown out of the trade union movement in Victorian times over took the Liberal party and became the largest party behind the Conservatives in the early 1920s and the mass exploitation of the Working Classes was finally brought under control.


France’s economy after World War 1 was ruined. The loss of manpower for production and also the wreck of agricultural land bought an increased need for imports from the other countries.

The state spent a huge amount of money to get medical care for the millions of wounded that had survived the war.

The war against Germany at the western front was fought mainly in France, which caused a drop in the economy. France experienced a dramatic decrease in manpower infrastructure and agriculture were likewise damaged due to bombardments and trench warfare. These all contributed to the heavy decline in the economy.


Why Turkey hasn't forgotten about the First World War

Ottoman Imperial Archives, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 and adapted from the original (link no longer available).

Turkey would be a different entity today, had it not been for the First World War. Co-author of the British Council report, Remember the World as well as the War, Anne Bostanci, highlights the effects of the war on Turkey and why especially the younger generation 'remembers'.

Remembering a world war, by definition, must be about remembering the whole world's involvement and losses – not just how it affected our own country or part of the world. Understanding the First World War also involves learning how it still affects our own country and other countries, and relations between countries.

'Turkey' was 'European'

Today, many people tend to think of 'Europe' as more or less synonymous with the EU, plus a few non-EU countries such as Switzerland and Norway. But there is an argument that this wasn't always how people understood 'Europe'. In the Age of Empire, the argument goes, none of the other ‘great’ European powers – e.g., the British, French, Russian or Austro-Hungarian empires – would have taken issue with counting the Ottoman Empire as one among them, both in positive and negative terms regarding alliances and rivalries.

The Ottoman Empire’s entry into the First World War, as a result of a complex web of secret alliances between the European powers, can be characterised as part of the European origins of the war. But, just like the involvement of all other European empires, it meant that parts of the world well beyond Europe were drawn into the conflict.

Turkey suffered heavy losses during the First World War

While the extent of the Ottoman Empire was, by 1914, reduced (in the past it had included large parts of North Africa, South Eastern and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Arabian peninsula), its territory still spanned large parts of the Middle East and Arabia, which came to be heavily affected by the First World War.

The Ottoman army (just under three million conscripts of Turkish, Arab, Kurdish and other backgrounds) fought the British in Egypt, Palestine, Arabia, Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) and Persia (today’s Iran). Of all these encounters, the defeat against Ottoman forces at Gallipoli in particular has made a lasting impression on Britain, as well as Australia and New Zealand due to the heavy losses they incurred. It is also remembered as one of the most significant battles of the conflict in Turkey.

Overall, the total number of combatant casualties in the Ottoman forces amounts to just under half of all those mobilised to fight. Of these, more than 800,000 were killed. However, four out of every five Ottoman citizens who died were non-combatants. Many succumbed to famine and disease, but others died as a result of population transfers and massacres, including at least one million Ottoman Armenians, whose deaths are still subject to significant debate in Turkey and internationally today.

'After' the First World War, the Ottoman Empire was broken up

When the war ended for some countries in 1918-19, it did not for Turkey: the First World War led straight into the Turkish War of Independence (1919-1923). This, together with the secret wartime agreements between the British and the French to divide up the Ottoman territory amongst themselves, sealed the fall of this formerly formidable empire, and led to the creation of the Turkish republic – reduced primarily to the former empire’s Anatolian heartland – under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Turkish collective memory of this period is coloured by these events. It lost its status amongst the great empires and, with it to some extent, its role in Europe. And it felt betrayed by the British who had, during the war, formed secret alliances with Ottoman Arabs to stir up revolts against their Turkish imperial rulers and entered into the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916 with the French, to take control of much of the empire’s former territory.

Perceptions of the First World War and the UK in Turkey today

It is therefore no surprise that British individuals and organisations operating in Turkey, such as the British Council, sometimes encounter a degree of mistrust or resentment. In the British Council’s seven-country survey on knowledge and perceptions of the First World War, the figure of Turkish respondents stating that Britain’s role in the First World War influenced their opinion of the UK in a negative way was high compared to other countries (34 per cent compared to, for instance, six per cent in France).

Young people in Turkey are very aware of the consequences of the First World War

On the surface, the findings from this survey look like the UK and Turkey put similar weight on the importance of the First World War. Just over half of British respondents (52 per cent) said it was one of the three most important international events of the past 100 years, compared to just under half of Turkish respondents (49 per cent).

However, in the UK, a higher proportion of the middle and older age groups (35+) selected it, while in Turkey more young people (especially in the 15-34 age bracket) placed the First World War in the top three international events of the past century.

Many young Turks feel their country's role in World War One is misunderstood

The survey also reveals that 90 per cent of Turkish respondents felt that their country is still affected by the consequences of the First World War. What's more, at 30 per cent, more than twice the proportion of Turkish compared to UK respondents felt that their country’s role in the First World War is often misrepresented and misunderstood in global history. Again, it was the youngest age group (15-24) who were the most likely to feel that their country had been misrepresented and misunderstood, at seven percentage points above the figure averaged across all age groups (i.e., 37 per cent).

Finally, less than ten per cent of UK respondents are aware of the Sykes-Picot Agreement mentioned above, whereas the figure for Turkish respondents is higher than 40 per cent. Knowledge of this agreement, too, is most widespread in the youngest age group – where almost half of respondents knew about it (49 per cent).

It's in the UK's interest to understand that Turkey is not likely to forget

Discussions in the UK rarely touch on these facts about the First World War, but in view of these findings, it would be naïve to hope that collective memory in Turkey will conveniently move away from them. They still have the power to colour Turkish people's perceptions of the UK in a negative way, and they are likely to continue to do so.

However, it is important to remember that Turkey, with its comparatively young citizens who hold these memories, has been identified by the UK government as strategically important in a number of sectors: education, energy, trade, and security, to name just a few.

Only if we develop an understanding of countries like Turkey and their perspective of the First World War, can we understand the conflict’s true contemporary relevance for the UK. It is not only right to learn about the world’s experiences and perceptions of a world war. It is also in the UK’s interest to do this.


French fishing boats return to Normandy as Jersey protest ends

France has despatched two maritime patrol boats to the waters off the British Channel island of Jersey, after Britain deployed two of its naval vessels in an escalating row over post-Brexit fishing rights. Video: Reuters

French fishermen have ended their protest off Jersey’s main port of St Hellier after talks aimed at resolving a dispute that has seen Britain and France send naval vessels to patrol the waters around the islands.

A flotilla of about 60 fishing boats returned to Normandy on Thursday afternoon after the talks but Downing Street said its two armed patrol ships would remain in place as a precautionary measure.

“We are pleased that French fishing boats have now left the vicinity of Jersey. Given the situation is resolved for now, the Royal Navy Offshore Patrol Vessels will prepare to return to port in the UK. We remain on standby to provide any further assistance Jersey requests.

“The Trade and Co-operation Agreement brought in changes to fishing arrangements between the UK and the EU. Jersey authorities have a right to regulate fisheries in their waters under this agreement and we support them in exercising those rights. We will work with Jersey to support the discussions underway with the European Commission, ” a government spokesman said.

The fishermen are protesting against new conditions imposed by Jersey for licenses to fish in waters where hundreds of French boats have operated for decades.

Related

The European Commission said Britain had breached the agreement by failing to give advance warning or to justify the new conditions, which demand GPS evidence of fishing history over years, specify the kind of equipment that can be used and sometimes drastically limit the number of days French fishermen can operate in Jersey’s waters.

“Any proposed management conditions have to be notified in advance to the other party, giving them sufficient time to assess and react to the proposed measures,” a commission official said.

“The commission has clearly indicated to the UK that the provisions of the EU-UKTCA have not been respected. Until the UK authorities provide further justifications on the new conditions, these new conditions should not apply.”

Livelihoods

French minister for maritime affairs Annick Girardin warned this week that Jersey’s electricity supply, 95 per cent of which comes from France, could be cut off in retaliation for limiting access to its waters. The country’s EU affairs minister Clement Beaune said on Thursday that regardless of Britain’s naval deployment, France would defend the rights of its fishermen and the livelihoods that depend on their continued right to fish in Jersey’s waters.

“We won’t be intimidated by these manoeuvres. Our wish is not to have tensions, but to have a quick and full application of the deal. That’s the case for Jersey and that’s the case for the licences we are waiting for in the Hauts de France. We’re working nonstop with the European Commission and British authorities,” he said.

Jersey, 22km off the French coast, is a self-governing crown dependency which is not part of the United Kingdom and was never part of the EU. Like its neighbour Guernsey and the Isle of Man, Jersey’s foreign policy is governed by Britain.

Its fishing waters come under the fishing chapter of the TCA and although London says Jersey can set its own licensing conditions, legislation passed at Westminster last year allows the British government to impose new fishing rules on the island.

Jersey’s external relations minister Ian Gorst, who has suggested that the dispute is the result of misunderstandings and teething problems with the new rules, said discussions with the French fishermen had been positive.

“We agreed that all sides remain committed to engaging with our partners in the EU and France to resolve the concerns arising from the issuing of fishing licenses under the Trade and Co-operation Agreement, which led to today’s protest,” he said.

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Confronting the National Debt: The Aftermath of the French and Indian War

Great Britain had much to celebrate in 1763. The long and costly war with France had finally ended, and Great Britain had emerged victorious. British subjects on both sides of the Atlantic celebrated the strength of the British Empire. Colonial pride ran high to live under the British Constitution and to have defeated the hated French Catholic menace brought great joy to British Protestants everywhere in the Empire. From Maine to Georgia, British colonists joyously celebrated the victory and sang the refrain of “Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves! Britons never, never, never shall be slaves!”

Despite the celebratory mood, the victory over France also produced major problems within the British Empire, problems that would have serious consequences for British colonists in the Americas. During the war, many Indian tribes had sided with the French, who supplied them with guns. After the 1763 Treaty of Paris that ended the French and Indian War (or the Seven Years’ War), British colonists had to defend the frontier, where French colonists and their tribal allies remained a powerful force. The most organized resistance, Pontiac’s Rebellion, highlighted tensions the settlers increasingly interpreted in racial terms.

The massive debt the war generated at home, however, proved to be the most serious issue facing Great Britain. The frontier had to be secure in order to prevent another costly war. Greater enforcement of imperial trade laws had to be put into place. Parliament had to find ways to raise revenue to pay off the crippling debt from the war. Everyone would have to contribute their expected share, including the British subjects across the Atlantic.

PROBLEMS ON THE AMERICAN FRONTIER

With the end of the French and Indian War, Great Britain claimed a vast new expanse of territory, at least on paper. Under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, the French territory known as New France had ceased to exist. British territorial holdings now extended from Canada to Florida, and British military focus shifted to maintaining peace in the king’s newly enlarged lands. However, much of the land in the American British Empire remained under the control of powerful native confederacies, which made any claims of British mastery beyond the Atlantic coastal settlements hollow. Great Britain maintained ten thousand troops in North America after the war ended in 1763 to defend the borders and repel any attack by their imperial rivals.

British colonists, eager for fresh land, poured over the Appalachian Mountains to stake claims. The western frontier had long been a “middle ground” where different imperial powers (British, French, Spanish) had interacted and compromised with native peoples. That era of accommodation in the “middle ground” came to an end after the French and Indian War. Virginians (including George Washington) and other land-hungry colonists had already raised tensions in the 1740s with their quest for land. Virginia landowners in particular eagerly looked to diversify their holdings beyond tobacco, which had stagnated in price and exhausted the fertility of the lands along the Chesapeake Bay. They invested heavily in the newly available land. This westward movement brought the settlers into conflict as never before with Indian tribes, such as the Shawnee, Seneca-Cayuga, Wyandot, and Delaware, who increasingly held their ground against any further intrusion by white settlers.

The treaty that ended the war between France and Great Britain proved to be a significant blow to native peoples, who had viewed the conflict as an opportunity to gain additional trade goods from both sides. With the French defeat, many Indians who had sided with France lost a valued trading partner as well as bargaining power over the British. Settlers’ encroachment on their land, as well as the increased British military presence, changed the situation on the frontier dramatically. After the war, British troops took over the former French forts but failed to court favor with the local tribes by distributing ample gifts, as the French had done. They also significantly reduced the amount of gunpowder and ammunition they sold to the Indians, worsening relationships further.

Indians’ resistance to colonists drew upon the teachings of Delaware (Lenni Lenape) prophet Neolin and the leadership of Ottawa war chief Pontiac. Neolin was a spiritual leader who preached a doctrine of shunning European culture and expelling Europeans from native lands. Neolin’s beliefs united Indians from many villages. In a broad-based alliance that came to be known as Pontiac’s Rebellion, Pontiac led a loose coalition of these native tribes against the colonists and the British army.

Pontiac started bringing his coalition together as early as 1761, urging Indians to “drive [the Europeans] out and make war upon them.” The conflict began in earnest in 1763, when Pontiac and several hundred Ojibwas, Potawatomis, and Hurons laid siege to Fort Detroit. At the same time, Senecas, Shawnees, and Delawares laid siege to Fort Pitt. Over the next year, the war spread along the backcountry from Virginia to Pennsylvania. Pontiac’s Rebellion (also known as Pontiac’s War) triggered horrific violence on both sides. Firsthand reports of Indian attacks tell of murder, scalping, dismemberment, and burning at the stake. These stories incited a deep racial hatred among colonists against all Indians.

The actions of a group of Scots-Irish settlers from Paxton (or Paxtang), Pennsylvania, in December 1763, illustrates the deadly situation on the frontier. Forming a mob known as the Paxton Boys, these frontiersmen attacked a nearby group of Conestoga of the Susquehannock tribe. The Conestoga had lived peacefully with local settlers, but the Paxton Boys viewed all Indians as savages and they brutally murdered the six Conestoga they found at home and burned their houses. When Governor John Penn put the remaining fourteen Conestoga in protective custody in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the Paxton Boys broke into the building and killed and scalped the Conestoga they found there ((Figure)). Although Governor Penn offered a reward for the capture of any Paxton Boys involved in the murders, no one ever identified the attackers. Some colonists reacted to the incident with outrage. Benjamin Franklin described the Paxton Boys as “the barbarous Men who committed the atrocious act, in Defiance of Government, of all Laws human and divine, and to the eternal Disgrace of their Country and Colour,” stating that “the Wickedness cannot be covered, the Guilt will lie on the whole Land, till Justice is done on the Murderers. The blood of the innocent will cry to heaven for vengeance.” Yet, as the inability to bring the perpetrators to justice clearly indicates, the Paxton Boys had many more supporters than critics.

Visit Explore PAhistory.com to read the full text of Benjamin Franklin’s “Benjamin Franklin, An Account of the Paxton Boys’ Murder of the Conestoga Indians, 1764.”

Pontiac’s Rebellion and the Paxton Boys’ actions were examples of early American race wars, in which both sides saw themselves as inherently different from the other and believed the other needed to be eradicated. The prophet Neolin’s message, which he said he received in a vision from the Master of Life, was: “Wherefore do you suffer the whites to dwell upon your lands? Drive them away wage war against them.” Pontiac echoed this idea in a meeting, exhorting tribes to join together against the British: “It is important for us, my brothers, that we exterminate from our lands this nation which seeks only to destroy us.” In his letter suggesting “gifts” to the natives of smallpox-infected blankets, Field Marshal Jeffrey Amherst said, “You will do well to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets, as well as every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.” Pontiac’s Rebellion came to an end in 1766, when it became clear that the French, whom Pontiac had hoped would side with his forces, would not be returning. The repercussions, however, would last much longer. Race relations between Indians and whites remained poisoned on the frontier.

Well aware of the problems on the frontier, the British government took steps to try to prevent bloodshed and another costly war. At the beginning of Pontiac’s uprising, the British issued the Proclamation of 1763, which forbade white settlement west of the Proclamation Line , a borderline running along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains ((Figure)). The Proclamation Line aimed to forestall further conflict on the frontier, the clear flashpoint of tension in British North America. British colonists who had hoped to move west after the war chafed at this restriction, believing the war had been fought and won to ensure the right to settle west. The Proclamation Line therefore came as a setback to their vision of westward expansion.

THE BRITISH NATIONAL DEBT

Great Britain’s newly enlarged empire meant a greater financial burden, and the mushrooming debt from the war was a major cause of concern. The war nearly doubled the British national debt, from £75 million in 1756 to £133 million in 1763. Interest payments alone consumed over half the national budget, and the continuing military presence in North America was a constant drain. The Empire needed more revenue to replenish its dwindling coffers. Those in Great Britain believed that British subjects in North America, as the major beneficiaries of Great Britain’s war for global supremacy, should certainly shoulder their share of the financial burden.

The British government began increasing revenues by raising taxes at home, even as various interest groups lobbied to keep their taxes low. Powerful members of the aristocracy, well represented in Parliament, successfully convinced Prime Minister John Stuart, third earl of Bute, to refrain from raising taxes on land. The greater tax burden, therefore, fell on the lower classes in the form of increased import duties, which raised the prices of imported goods such as sugar and tobacco. George Grenville succeeded Bute as prime minister in 1763. Grenville determined to curtail government spending and make sure that, as subjects of the British Empire, the American colonists did their part to pay down the massive debt.

IMPERIAL REFORMS

The new era of greater British interest in the American colonies through imperial reforms picked up in pace in the mid-1760s. In 1764, Prime Minister Grenville introduced the Currency Act of 1764, prohibiting the colonies from printing additional paper money and requiring colonists to pay British merchants in gold and silver instead of the colonial paper money already in circulation. The Currency Act aimed to standardize the currency used in Atlantic trade, a logical reform designed to help stabilize the Empire’s economy. This rule brought American economic activity under greater British control. Colonists relied on their own paper currency to conduct trade and, with gold and silver in short supply, they found their finances tight. Not surprisingly, they grumbled about the new imperial currency regulations.

Grenville also pushed Parliament to pass the Sugar Act of 1764, which actually lowered duties on British molasses by half, from six pence per gallon to three. Grenville designed this measure to address the problem of rampant colonial smuggling with the French sugar islands in the West Indies. The act attempted to make it easier for colonial traders, especially New England mariners who routinely engaged in illegal trade, to comply with the imperial law.

To give teeth to the 1764 Sugar Act, the law intensified enforcement provisions. Prior to the 1764 act, colonial violations of the Navigation Acts had been tried in local courts, where sympathetic colonial juries refused to convict merchants on trial. However, the Sugar Act required violators to be tried in vice-admiralty courts . These crown-sanctioned tribunals, which settled disputes that occurred at sea, operated without juries. Some colonists saw this feature of the 1764 act as dangerous. They argued that trial by jury had long been honored as a basic right of Englishmen under the British Constitution. To deprive defendants of a jury, they contended, meant reducing liberty-loving British subjects to political slavery. In the British Atlantic world, some colonists perceived this loss of liberty as parallel to the enslavement of Africans.

As loyal British subjects, colonists in America cherished their Constitution, an unwritten system of government that they celebrated as the best political system in the world. The British Constitution prescribed the roles of the King, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. Each entity provided a check and balance against the worst tendencies of the others. If the King had too much power, the result would be tyranny. If the Lords had too much power, the result would be oligarchy. If the Commons had the balance of power, democracy or mob rule would prevail. The British Constitution promised representation of the will of British subjects, and without such representation, even the indirect tax of the Sugar Act was considered a threat to the settlers’ rights as British subjects. Furthermore, some American colonists felt the colonies were on equal political footing with Great Britain. The Sugar Act meant they were secondary, mere adjuncts to the Empire. All subjects of the British crown knew they had liberties under the constitution. The Sugar Act suggested that some in Parliament labored to deprive them of what made them uniquely British.

Section Summary

The British Empire had gained supremacy in North America with its victory over the French in 1763. Almost all of the North American territory east of the Mississippi fell under Great Britain’s control, and British leaders took this opportunity to try to create a more coherent and unified empire after decades of lax oversight. Victory over the French had proved very costly, and the British government attempted to better regulate their expanded empire in North America. The initial steps the British took in 1763 and 1764 raised suspicions among some colonists about the intent of the home government. These suspicions would grow and swell over the coming years.


Confronting the National Debt: The Aftermath of the French and Indian War

Great Britain had much to celebrate in 1763. The long and costly war with France had finally ended, and Great Britain had emerged victorious. British subjects on both sides of the Atlantic celebrated the strength of the British Empire. Colonial pride ran high to live under the British Constitution and to have defeated the hated French Catholic menace brought great joy to British Protestants everywhere in the Empire. From Maine to Georgia, British colonists joyously celebrated the victory and sang the refrain of “Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves! Britons never, never, never shall be slaves!”

Despite the celebratory mood, the victory over France also produced major problems within the British Empire, problems that would have serious consequences for British colonists in the Americas. During the war, many Indian tribes had sided with the French, who supplied them with guns. After the 1763 Treaty of Paris that ended the French and Indian War (or the Seven Years’ War), British colonists had to defend the frontier, where French colonists and their tribal allies remained a powerful force. The most organized resistance, Pontiac’s Rebellion, highlighted tensions the settlers increasingly interpreted in racial terms.

The massive debt the war generated at home, however, proved to be the most serious issue facing Great Britain. The frontier had to be secure in order to prevent another costly war. Greater enforcement of imperial trade laws had to be put into place. Parliament had to find ways to raise revenue to pay off the crippling debt from the war. Everyone would have to contribute their expected share, including the British subjects across the Atlantic.

PROBLEMS ON THE AMERICAN FRONTIER

With the end of the French and Indian War, Great Britain claimed a vast new expanse of territory, at least on paper. Under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, the French territory known as New France had ceased to exist. British territorial holdings now extended from Canada to Florida, and British military focus shifted to maintaining peace in the king’s newly enlarged lands. However, much of the land in the American British Empire remained under the control of powerful native confederacies, which made any claims of British mastery beyond the Atlantic coastal settlements hollow. Great Britain maintained ten thousand troops in North America after the war ended in 1763 to defend the borders and repel any attack by their imperial rivals.

British colonists, eager for fresh land, poured over the Appalachian Mountains to stake claims. The western frontier had long been a “middle ground” where different imperial powers (British, French, Spanish) had interacted and compromised with native peoples. That era of accommodation in the “middle ground” came to an end after the French and Indian War. Virginians (including George Washington) and other land-hungry colonists had already raised tensions in the 1740s with their quest for land. Virginia landowners in particular eagerly looked to diversify their holdings beyond tobacco, which had stagnated in price and exhausted the fertility of the lands along the Chesapeake Bay. They invested heavily in the newly available land. This westward movement brought the settlers into conflict as never before with Indian tribes, such as the Shawnee, Seneca-Cayuga, Wyandot, and Delaware, who increasingly held their ground against any further intrusion by white settlers.

The treaty that ended the war between France and Great Britain proved to be a significant blow to native peoples, who had viewed the conflict as an opportunity to gain additional trade goods from both sides. With the French defeat, many Indians who had sided with France lost a valued trading partner as well as bargaining power over the British. Settlers’ encroachment on their land, as well as the increased British military presence, changed the situation on the frontier dramatically. After the war, British troops took over the former French forts but failed to court favor with the local tribes by distributing ample gifts, as the French had done. They also significantly reduced the amount of gunpowder and ammunition they sold to the Indians, worsening relationships further.

Indians’ resistance to colonists drew upon the teachings of Delaware (Lenni Lenape) prophet Neolin and the leadership of Ottawa war chief Pontiac. Neolin was a spiritual leader who preached a doctrine of shunning European culture and expelling Europeans from native lands. Neolin’s beliefs united Indians from many villages. In a broad-based alliance that came to be known as Pontiac’s Rebellion, Pontiac led a loose coalition of these native tribes against the colonists and the British army.

Pontiac started bringing his coalition together as early as 1761, urging Indians to “drive [the Europeans] out and make war upon them.” The conflict began in earnest in 1763, when Pontiac and several hundred Ojibwas, Potawatomis, and Hurons laid siege to Fort Detroit. At the same time, Senecas, Shawnees, and Delawares laid siege to Fort Pitt. Over the next year, the war spread along the backcountry from Virginia to Pennsylvania. Pontiac’s Rebellion (also known as Pontiac’s War) triggered horrific violence on both sides. Firsthand reports of Indian attacks tell of murder, scalping, dismemberment, and burning at the stake. These stories incited a deep racial hatred among colonists against all Indians.

The actions of a group of Scots-Irish settlers from Paxton (or Paxtang), Pennsylvania, in December 1763, illustrates the deadly situation on the frontier. Forming a mob known as the Paxton Boys, these frontiersmen attacked a nearby group of Conestoga of the Susquehannock tribe. The Conestoga had lived peacefully with local settlers, but the Paxton Boys viewed all Indians as savages and they brutally murdered the six Conestoga they found at home and burned their houses. When Governor John Penn put the remaining fourteen Conestoga in protective custody in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the Paxton Boys broke into the building and killed and scalped the Conestoga they found there ([link]). Although Governor Penn offered a reward for the capture of any Paxton Boys involved in the murders, no one ever identified the attackers. Some colonists reacted to the incident with outrage. Benjamin Franklin described the Paxton Boys as “the barbarous Men who committed the atrocious act, in Defiance of Government, of all Laws human and divine, and to the eternal Disgrace of their Country and Colour,” stating that “the Wickedness cannot be covered, the Guilt will lie on the whole Land, till Justice is done on the Murderers. The blood of the innocent will cry to heaven for vengeance.” Yet, as the inability to bring the perpetrators to justice clearly indicates, the Paxton Boys had many more supporters than critics.

Visit Explore PAhistory.com to read the full text of Benjamin Franklin’s “Benjamin Franklin, An Account of the Paxton Boys’ Murder of the Conestoga Indians, 1764.”

Pontiac’s Rebellion and the Paxton Boys’ actions were examples of early American race wars, in which both sides saw themselves as inherently different from the other and believed the other needed to be eradicated. The prophet Neolin’s message, which he said he received in a vision from the Master of Life, was: “Wherefore do you suffer the whites to dwell upon your lands? Drive them away wage war against them.” Pontiac echoed this idea in a meeting, exhorting tribes to join together against the British: “It is important for us, my brothers, that we exterminate from our lands this nation which seeks only to destroy us.” In his letter suggesting “gifts” to the natives of smallpox-infected blankets, Field Marshal Jeffrey Amherst said, “You will do well to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets, as well as every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.” Pontiac’s Rebellion came to an end in 1766, when it became clear that the French, whom Pontiac had hoped would side with his forces, would not be returning. The repercussions, however, would last much longer. Race relations between Indians and whites remained poisoned on the frontier.

Well aware of the problems on the frontier, the British government took steps to try to prevent bloodshed and another costly war. At the beginning of Pontiac’s uprising, the British issued the Proclamation of 1763, which forbade white settlement west of the Proclamation Line, a borderline running along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains ([link]). The Proclamation Line aimed to forestall further conflict on the frontier, the clear flashpoint of tension in British North America. British colonists who had hoped to move west after the war chafed at this restriction, believing the war had been fought and won to ensure the right to settle west. The Proclamation Line therefore came as a setback to their vision of westward expansion.

THE BRITISH NATIONAL DEBT

Great Britain’s newly enlarged empire meant a greater financial burden, and the mushrooming debt from the war was a major cause of concern. The war nearly doubled the British national debt, from £75 million in 1756 to £133 million in 1763. Interest payments alone consumed over half the national budget, and the continuing military presence in North America was a constant drain. The Empire needed more revenue to replenish its dwindling coffers. Those in Great Britain believed that British subjects in North America, as the major beneficiaries of Great Britain’s war for global supremacy, should certainly shoulder their share of the financial burden.

The British government began increasing revenues by raising taxes at home, even as various interest groups lobbied to keep their taxes low. Powerful members of the aristocracy, well represented in Parliament, successfully convinced Prime Minister John Stuart, third earl of Bute, to refrain from raising taxes on land. The greater tax burden, therefore, fell on the lower classes in the form of increased import duties, which raised the prices of imported goods such as sugar and tobacco. George Grenville succeeded Bute as prime minister in 1763. Grenville determined to curtail government spending and make sure that, as subjects of the British Empire, the American colonists did their part to pay down the massive debt.

IMPERIAL REFORMS

The new era of greater British interest in the American colonies through imperial reforms picked up in pace in the mid-1760s. In 1764, Prime Minister Grenville introduced the Currency Act of 1764, prohibiting the colonies from printing additional paper money and requiring colonists to pay British merchants in gold and silver instead of the colonial paper money already in circulation. The Currency Act aimed to standardize the currency used in Atlantic trade, a logical reform designed to help stabilize the Empire’s economy. This rule brought American economic activity under greater British control. Colonists relied on their own paper currency to conduct trade and, with gold and silver in short supply, they found their finances tight. Not surprisingly, they grumbled about the new imperial currency regulations.

Grenville also pushed Parliament to pass the Sugar Act of 1764, which actually lowered duties on British molasses by half, from six pence per gallon to three. Grenville designed this measure to address the problem of rampant colonial smuggling with the French sugar islands in the West Indies. The act attempted to make it easier for colonial traders, especially New England mariners who routinely engaged in illegal trade, to comply with the imperial law.

To give teeth to the 1764 Sugar Act, the law intensified enforcement provisions. Prior to the 1764 act, colonial violations of the Navigation Acts had been tried in local courts, where sympathetic colonial juries refused to convict merchants on trial. However, the Sugar Act required violators to be tried in vice-admiralty courts. These crown-sanctioned tribunals, which settled disputes that occurred at sea, operated without juries. Some colonists saw this feature of the 1764 act as dangerous. They argued that trial by jury had long been honored as a basic right of Englishmen under the British Constitution. To deprive defendants of a jury, they contended, meant reducing liberty-loving British subjects to political slavery. In the British Atlantic world, some colonists perceived this loss of liberty as parallel to the enslavement of Africans.

As loyal British subjects, colonists in America cherished their Constitution, an unwritten system of government that they celebrated as the best political system in the world. The British Constitution prescribed the roles of the King, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. Each entity provided a check and balance against the worst tendencies of the others. If the King had too much power, the result would be tyranny. If the Lords had too much power, the result would be oligarchy. If the Commons had the balance of power, democracy or mob rule would prevail. The British Constitution promised representation of the will of British subjects, and without such representation, even the indirect tax of the Sugar Act was considered a threat to the settlers’ rights as British subjects. Furthermore, some American colonists felt the colonies were on equal political footing with Great Britain. The Sugar Act meant they were secondary, mere adjuncts to the Empire. All subjects of the British crown knew they had liberties under the constitution. The Sugar Act suggested that some in Parliament labored to deprive them of what made them uniquely British.

Section Summary

The British Empire had gained supremacy in North America with its victory over the French in 1763. Almost all of the North American territory east of the Mississippi fell under Great Britain’s control, and British leaders took this opportunity to try to create a more coherent and unified empire after decades of lax oversight. Victory over the French had proved very costly, and the British government attempted to better regulate their expanded empire in North America. The initial steps the British took in 1763 and 1764 raised suspicions among some colonists about the intent of the home government. These suspicions would grow and swell over the coming years.


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