Samuel Vetch, Colonial Enterpriser

Samuel Vetch, Colonial Enterpriser

Samuel Vetch, Colonial Enterpriser

Samuel Vetch, Colonial Enterpriser

Excerpt

For the British empire the central fact of the first half of the eighteenth century was the struggle against France. The preceding century had ended with the conclusion of an uneasy truce after the War of the League of Augsburg. Emerging English imperialism had been set back. The military potential of France cast a shadow over England; her commercial rivalry and political preponderance in European affairs threatened English goals. Louis XIV, championing the cause of England's Catholic Pretender, imperiled the religious and constitutional gains of the Revolution of 1688, and he stood to gain even more advantage if he should join to the House of Bourbon the Spanish lands which seemed about to slip from Hapsburg hands upon the death of ailing Charles II.

British imperialism had also failed in the North American colonies. The counterpart of the European conflict had been King William's War, the first colonial war between French and English settlers in the New World. It had settled none of the issues of territorial and trade rivalry, important alike for the colonists and for the home governments which viewed the colonies as extensions of their political and economic power in Europe. The peace settlement of 1697 had forced New England to give up one of its prizes of the war, Nova Scotia. An attempt to reduce Quebec during the war had aborted. The struggle had exhausted the Indian allies of the English, leaving them vulnerable to

French overtures. Its bloodshed had discouraged frontier settlement; its expense had depleted colonial treasuries. The ravages of French privateers had cut heavily into the profits of colonial merchants and shippers.

As the eighteenth century opened, a third imperialism under . . .

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