Century of Conflict

By Joseph Lister Rutledge | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII
THE GREAT FORTRESS

The Treaty of Utrecht--which cost France Acadia and Newfoundland and Hudson's Bay--leaves her hopelessly surrounded; her ancient highway of the St. Lawrence almost closed to her. The vital need for an outlet on the sea points to Isle Royale, now Cape Breton, her one remaining foothold on the Atlantic. Here, at English Harbor, rechristened Louisburg for the King, an invulnerable fortress is planned. The reluctance of people to face starvation on this "wild and Barren Island." The fortress grows slowly, and not very nobly. Here at last, in an atmosphere of craft and chicanery, appears the friend of Pompadour.

Time was when France claimed the Atlantic seaboard of this continent almost as far south as Boston. The small foothold in Newfoundland at Plaisance, better known as Placentia Harbor, coupled with the successful ventures of Iberville, had given a sure sense of ownership over all the coast north from the St. Lawrence to Hudson Strait and indeed over the Great Bay itself. From the St. Lawrence to the St. Croix River--on the present boundary between Maine and New Brunswick-- French ownership was well established. From there to the Kennebec River, however, was a no man's land that everyone claimed, and no one with enough authority to make the claim effective.

The Treaty of Utrecht brought many changes. While the ignominious fate of Sir Hovendon Walker's expedition could hardly have been designated a French victory (one constant having turned tail before the battle began), it was a victory in effect. France still remained in undisputed control of the field. Even this, however, didn't make it much of a triumph, because, as not infrequently happens, the negotiators man-

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