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

By Nicholas Tracy | Go to book overview

4
The Falkland Islands Crisis

THE FIRST MOVES, 1768-70

The failure to prevent the French annexation of Corsica was the result, essentially, of the disruption of the British government of the time. British strategic thinking continued on the whole to recognize the need for constant restraint upon Bourbon révanchist activity. When the Bedford group succeeded in ousting Shelburne from office, the way was cleared for a return to what may be regarded as normal British statesmanship, to which in reality the supporters of Bedford and Shelburne equally subscribed. Rochford had been brought into the administration as the Secretary of State for the Northern Department. His consistent policy of confronting the machinations of the Bourbon states with suasive force was not a good preparation for the complexities of Baltic diplomacy, but his grasp of Britain's relative security and naval strength was a firm basis for negotiations with Russia and Prussia, and he was soon to be moved to the Southern Department. 1 It was not possible simple to write off Corsica, however, and to expect the affairs of Europe to continue on their earlier course. From the summer of 1768 to the summer of 1770 the British gradually became aware of an increase in the tempo of the Bourbon challenge to their position. In 1772 the British ambassador in Paris, Lord Harcourt, reported that the Duc d'Aiguillon, who succeeded Choiseul after the crisis of 1770, "was candid enough to say, that it was from the idea of the bad state of our marine that the Spaniards had lately shown such a readyness to fall out with us." 2 The small growth of Bourbon naval strength at the end of the 1760s may have contributed to the Spanish delusion, but the refusal of the British to risk war in 1768 could certainly be calculated to produce an impression of naval weakness.

In the end the trial of strength centred on disputed claims to the Falkland

-69-

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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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