Securing American Independence: John Jay and the French Alliance

By Frank W. Brecher | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7

Peace Negotiations, 1782-83
The defeat at Yorktown forced a major change in the English body politic. On the following 27 February, Parliament passed a resolution dictating the termination of offensive land operations against the U.S.; and on 1 March, the North government lost a confidence vote and was replaced later that month by one, although quite divided as to negotiating strategy, determined to enter into peace negotiations with both the French and the Americans. Only in distinct phases for the balance of 1782 would the peace process expand finally to comprehend all fronts worldwide and not just in North America. This was understandable, given the fundamentals of the situation:
1. England was far from a defeated power. Its navy's strength actually was on the increase, and the nation's fighting spirit, at least regarding its traditional Bourbon adversaries, was given a major boost by the satisfying victory over no less a person than de Grasse in a West Indies sea battle on 12 April that ended with the admiral being taken to England as a prisoner of war (and where, as we shall see, he would have the opportunity of playing still another key role in this war, that of initial message bearer to Versailles from an again-revised, but now more unified, English government, the post-March one having suffered the death on 1 July of its ineffective coalition leader, Rockingham).
2. If the war aims of the U.S. were now within reach, those of England's other enemies were not yet at this stage. 385 The French-backed Spaniards—although they now had captured Minorca and also Florida's

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