Navies, Deterrence, and American Independence: Britain and Seapower in the 1760s and 1770s

By Nicholas Tracy | Go to book overview

3
The Utilization of Naval Supremacy, 1763-68

Dependence upon naval power significantly constrained and channelled Britain's foreign policy. The scale of the triumph in 1763 which established Britain's general naval predominance emphasizes the limits there were to the utility of naval power. In the years following the Seven Years' War, successive British administrations found themselves grappling with those limitations. The ability to employ naval forces to protect British interests was dependent upon circumstances. When it was possible to take direct naval action, there was always a price to pay for humiliating her former enemies. Coercion of those governments by naval action unconnected with the direct subject of dispute incurred an even higher price because the humiliation was all the more apparent. Yet failure to protect national interests undermined the credibility of British seapower, and failure to protect the economic and politico-geographic foundations of naval strength could lead to irrecoverable loss.


THE HONDURAS AND TURKS ISLAND INCIDENTS

In 1764-65, when British interests were threatened consecutively in Honduras, Turks Island, and the Gambia, the Grenville administration managed to employ Britain's naval strength with considerable success as an instrument of foreign policy. 1 The troubles with Spain and France respectively in Honduras and at Turks Island were apparently unconnected in their origins, but their juxtaposition in time and location meant that it was possible to take concerted action against both dangers, and the sudden appearance of two threats at the same time may have enhanced governmental awareness of danger.

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Navies, Deterrence, and American Independence: Britain and Seapower in the 1760s and 1770s
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Illustrations vii
  • Contents viii
  • Preface ix
  • 1- Introduction: The Direction of Britain's Security Policy in the 1760s 1
  • 2- The British Navy After the Seven Years' War 8
  • 3- The Utilization Of Naval Supremacy, 1763-68 42
  • 4- The Falkland Islands Crisis 69
  • 5- Business as Usual: India and Sweden 100
  • 6- Minimal Deterrence: French Intervention In The American Revolution 118
  • Notes 159
  • Bibliography 187
  • Index 199
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