History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 5

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XX.
THE KING OF SPAIN BAFFLED BY THE BACKWOODSMEN OF
VIRGINIA.
1778–1779.

THE Catholic king, whose public debt A large animal deficit was rapidly increasing, recoiled from war, and, above all, from a war wliich was leading to the irretrievable ruin of the old colonial system.

The management of its foreign dependencies—colonies they could not properly be named, nor could Spain be called their mother country—was to that kingdom an object of neversleeping suspicion, heightened by a consciousness that the task of governing them was beyond its ability. The total number of their inhabitants greatly exceeded its own. By their very extent, embracing, at least in theory, all the Pacific coast of America, and all the land west of the Mississippi and all Louisiana, it could have no secure feeling of their subordination. The remoteness of the provinces on the Pacific still more weakened its supremacy, which was nowhere confirmed by a common language or affinities of race; by the joint possession of political rights, or inbred loyalty. The connection between rulers and ruled was one of force alone; and the force was feeble and precarious. Distrust marked the policy of the home government, even toward those of its officials who were natives of Spain; still more toward the Creoles, as the offspring of Spaniards in America were called. No attempt had been made to bind the mind of the old races, except through the Roman religion, which was introduced by the sword and maintained by methods of superstition. There was, perhaps, never a time when the war-cry of some one of the

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