Century of Conflict

By Joseph Lister Rutledge | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
"THE WOEFUL DECADE"

The War of the Spanish Succession, known on the American continent as Queen Anne's War, reopens the long feud between New France and New England. In Canada, Governor Callières is dead. Governor Vaudreuil--who is in his place--revives the old policy of keeping the Abenaki thinking only of war. The border flames again in a score of places. The raid on Deerfield becomes a vital page in Canada's story.

The Reverend Cotton Mather, the friend and biographer of Sir William Phips and one-time devoted witch hunter, was a minister of distinction in Puritan Boston, where the ministerial rank was high. He was also quite a phrasemaker and a bit of a pedant as well. He had coined his own phrase to cover an era that in Europe has come to be known as that of the War of the Spanish Succession, and in America as Queen Anne's War.

That was some years later. Thus far the Peace of Ryswick seems to have brought a season of tranquillity. A peace that did little more than establish a status quo could hardly be expected to last, and it didn't. In something less than five years the divergent interests, which hadn't changed, set the disputants at each other's throats again. What followed was grim enough, and Cotton Mather's phrase was not without aptness. In his pedantic vein he spoke of the years between 1703 and 1713 as decennium luctuosum, "the woful decade." For once the great Cotton Mather had understressed. Both in the matter of the extent of time and in the tribulations covered by the years, the phrase was too mild.

And yet, for the time, it seemed the settlement that Ryswick had proposed might have become actual and lasting. Europe had been almost beggared by war. William III of England had found it necessary to pledge his personal for

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