Dinsmore Documentation  presents  Classics of American Colonial History

Author: Greene, Evarts Boutell
Title: Provincial America, 1690-1740.
Citation: New York, N.Y.: Harper and Brothers, 1905
Subdivision:Chapter IX
HTML by Dinsmore Documentation * Added February 10, 2003
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QUEEN ANNE’S WAR (1700-1709)

     THE treaty of Ryswick failed to bring, either in Europe or America, a settlement of the essential issues. The problem of the Spanish succession, which had troubled the statesmen of Europe for a generation, remained unsolved. Charles II., the reigning king of Spain, was an invalid and childless, and the succession was contested by the two leading dynasties of continental Europe; both the Austrian Hapsburgs and the Bourbons of France had claims based upon intermarriage with Spanish princesses. The complete triumph of either would have produced a political combination more serious than any in Europe since the days of Charles V., but the union of France and Spain seemed particularly dangerous to those who wished to defend the balance of power.

     The treaty of Ryswick was followed by prolonged negotiations in which Louis XIV., William III., and the Hapsburg emperor were the chief participants. A compromise which gave the Spanish crown to a minor personage, the electoral prince of Bavaria, and


allowed certain concessions of territory to the French and Austrian claimants, was soon nullified by the death of the young Bavarian prince. Renewed negotiations between the English and Dutch governments on the one side, and Louis XIV. on the other, resulted in the second partition treaty of 1700, by which Spain, with the Spanish Netherlands and the colonies, was assigned to an Austrian prince and the important possessions in Italy to the French Dauphin. Again, however, the work of diplomacy was undone; for in the same year Charles II. died, leaving by will all the Spanish dominions to Philip of Anjou, a younger grandson of Louis XIV. Louis accepted the will, and with his support Philip established himself on the Spanish throne.1

     This Bourbon succession was at once contested by the Austrians, but it was at first doubtful whether they would receive general support. To William III. the desirability of resistance was clear, but his English subjects were not yet convinced that their own interests were at stake. Again, as in 1689, this conviction was forced on them by the French king himself. Their anxiety was first aroused by his occupation of border fortresses in the Spanish Netherlands, previously secured by Dutch garrisons. In September, 1701, there came news of French edicts excluding British manufactures. The French seemed also to be reaching after a monopoly of the

     1 Von Noorden, Spanische Erbfolge-Krieg, I., 97-118.


Spanish-American trade, to the serious detriment of English interests. Finally, in the same year, Louis XIV. again challenged the national spirit of the English people by acknowledging, on the death of James II., his son, “the Pretender,” as James III., king of England. There was soon a decided change of feeling in England, and the newly elected Parliament gave its cordial support to the king’s war policy. Before war was actually declared, King William died, but the accession of Anne and the choice of new ministers brought no change in the foreign policy of the government. Under the leadership of Marlborough, England became more than ever the predominant partner in the coalition against France.1

     Aside from the sentiment of national independence challenged by Louis’ acknowledgment of the Pretender, the primary interest of England in the War of the Spanish Succession was to prevent the close union of France and Spain which seemed Likely if Philip V. were allowed to keep his crown. This was not merely a question of continental European politics, but even more largely one of commercial competition. During the later years of the Spanish Hapsburgs the English and the Dutch had, lawfully or unlawfully, secured for themselves an important part of the Spanish trade, including

     1 Von Noorden, Spanische Erbfolge-Krieg, I., 119-121, 125-139, 172-179; Stanhope, England, 1701-1713 (ed. of 1870), 11; Grimblot, Letters of William III. and Louis XIV., II., 477-479.


that of the American colonies. There was reason to suppose that under a Bourbon prince stricter regulations would be enforced, that special privilege enjoyed by the English would be withdrawn, and that the French would use their political power to exploit the Spanish trade.

     This emphasis on commercial interests, and especially upon colonial trade, appears repeatedly in the diplomatic representations of the British government, from the foundation of the coalition until the final settlement. Thus, in the secret treaty between England, the Netherlands, and the Austrian emperor in 1701, there were included as indispensable conditions of a settlement with France, not only the exclusion of the French from the trade of the Spanish Indies, but also the securing to English and Dutch merchants of all the commercial privileges enjoyed by them under the late king. The same treaty reserved to the Dutch and the English the right to make conquests in the Spanish Indies. Similar views were expressed in the English treaty with the Austrian claimant in 1706, and in the preliminary articles proposed by England in the peace negotiations of 1709 and 1711. Thus one of the leading issues of the war was in part, at least, American.1

     1 Von Noorden, Spanische Erbfolge-Krieg, I., 46-51, 162, II., 224, III., 504; Stanhope, England, 1701-1713, p. 490; Bolingbroke, Letters and Correspondence, I., 374-381, notes; cf. Mahan, Sea Power, 203.


     In the preceding wars the resources of Spain were, in a measure at least, at the service of the coalition. In 1702, however, its government was in the hands of the French party and the authority of Philip V. was recognized at once in the American colonies. For the first time the English in North America had to face an alliance of the two great Latin powers; and for South Carolina and the British West Indies this was a serious danger.

     The great engagements of this war were fought on the continent of Europe, and the victories of Marlborough and Prince Eugene were probably the most important factors in forcing France to terms. Yet one of the most marked features of the struggle was the steady decline in the naval power of France and the steady advance in that of England. England gained at the expense of the Dutch as well as of the French, and by the close of the war had become unquestionably the leading maritime power. This naval superiority produced, however, no marked results in the American war. Though the French navy declined because of official neglect, English colonial trade suffered severely at the hands of French privateers, especially from the West India Islands.1

     As the European conflict approached, it was probably not materially hastened by any crisis in North America. In fact, there was a strong disposition among the French to maintain peace in

     1 Mahan, Sea Power, 217-231.


America. A French state paper of 1701 contains an elaborate project for the conquest of the northern English colonies, but ends with the opinion that, after all, the neutrality of North America would be preferable to war and would be “infinitely more advantageous for Canada.” Proposals for neutrality were afterwards made by Governor Dudley, of Massachusetts, and accepted in principle, not only by Governor Vaudreuil at Quebec, but by the French authorities at home. Upon the precise terms, however, the two governors could not agree.1

     On the New York frontier the peculiar position of the Iroquois resulted in a sort of partial neutrality which was maintained during the greater part of the war. Since, after a long and harassing conflict, the Canadian government had just brought the Five Nations into peaceable treaty relations, it was considered very important that these relations should be maintained. Conferences were held with the Iroquois and assurances of neutrality were secured. In view, however, of the close relations which had long existed between these Indians and the authorities at Albany, it seemed doubtful whether, in case of actual war between the French and the English, the Iroquois could be prevented from taking sides with the latter. For this reason the French refrained from attacking New York. The English and Dutch of New York found it almost equally their interest to preserve the peace.

     1 N. Y. Docs. Rel. to Col. Hist., IX., 725-728, 770-776, 779.


Thus for several years New York was protected from Indian incursions and the Indian trade was freely continued both with Albany and Montreal.1

     The attitude of the French towards New England was quite different. The Indians of that region had been under Jesuit influence and closely allied with the French, but there was some anxiety lest they might be reconciled with the English and take sides with them. The Marquis de Vaudreuil, who in 1703 became governor of New France, argued that the English and the Abenakis must be kept “irreconcilable enemies,” and he therefore instigated these Indians to attacks on the New England frontier, in which the converted Iroquois of the French mission were also engaged. The government in France expressed some misgivings with regard to this policy at first, but its opposition does not seem to have been serious.2

     The peculiar neutral attitude of New York, while the New England settlements were exposed to the horrors of border warfare, provoked sharp criticism. The New-Englanders suspected that their own safety was being sacrificed in order that the men at Albany might carry on a profitable trade. From time to time they attempted to secure the help of the Iroquois in their war with the eastern Indians,

     1 N. Y. Docs. Rel. to Col. Hist., V., 42, IX., 736-739, 742-745; Schuyler, Colonial New York, II., 13-26; Parkman, Half-Century of Conflict, I., 11-14.
     2 N. Y. Docs. Rel. to Col. Hist., IX., 755-760, 804.


but were always blocked by opposition from New York. It was not until 1709 that that province was willing to promise its support and that of the Indian allies for a general movement against the French. Sometimes, however, the Schuylers at Albany rendered the New-Englanders substantial service by warning them of impending French and Indian raids. Samuel Penhallow, a contemporary New England writer, notes the timely warning given on the eve of the Deerfield massacre by “Colonel Schuyler who was always a kind and faithful intelligencer.”1

     The history of the American war may be conveniently divided into two periods. The first covers the seven years from 1702 to 1709, and is characterized for the northern colonies chiefly by French and Indian raids on the New England frontier, followed by generally ineffective attempts at reprisal, especially on the part of the Massachusetts government. There was also a large amount of commerce-destroying, in which New England suffered severely from French privateers, especially those from the West Indies and Port Royal. On the sea, however, the New-Englanders were able to give a better account of themselves than on land, and considerable damage was inflicted upon French commerce and fisheries. Meanwhile, South Carolina, in even greater isolation, was

     1 Penhallow, Wars of New England (ed. of 1859), 24, 35, 43; Schuyler, Colonial New York, II., 20, 24; N. Y. Docs. Rel. to Col. Hist., V., 42.


engaged in a serious conflict with the Spaniards of Florida, aided not merely by Indian allies, but also by French forces from the West Indies.

     The intervening colonies were less directly involved in the war, but their commerce was exposed to attack. The English government, at considerable expense, provided naval vessels to convoy the fleets that sailed at intervals from Massachusetts or Virginia or Barbadoes, besides guard-ships to patrol the coasts; but these precautions did not always prevent serious loss. Even Pennsylvania, where the Quakers were doing their utmost to keep out of the war, had to feel at times the blows of the enemy. James Logan, Penn’s agent in the province, writes repeatedly of the annoyance caused by the “Martinico privateers.” In 1708 he observed that after a period of comparative peace, “these coasts begin to be intolerably infested,” and that within four days “three vessels of this river” had been sunk and burned, including one “just off our own capes.” The next year he noted the plunder of a neighboring town by a French privateer.1

     In the second period, from 1709 to 1713, the English were more aggressive. Larger enterprises were undertaken, there was more co-operation among the colonies, and there were also considerable reinforcements from England. These larger plans, however,

     1 Penn-Logan Correspondence, I., 240, 289, 301, II., 123, 275, 348; Chalmers, Revolt, I., 354.


were seriously impaired by poor leadership and defective organization, and the results accomplished were relatively small.

     Notwithstanding the formal declaration of war, in 1702, there was no serious outbreak on the New England border that year. In 1703, Joseph Dudley, who had recently been appointed governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and thus exercised jurisdiction over practically the whole territory exposed to Indian attacks, held a conference with the Abenaki tribes at Casco, on the Maine frontier. A treaty of peace was then agreed to by the Indians, but within two months, under the influence of the French Jesuits, they reopened the war by a destructive raid which almost wiped out the Maine settlements. In 1704 occurred the most serious disaster of the whole war in New England, the massacre at Deerfield, then the northwestern outpost of settlement in the Connecticut valley. The town was attacked by a force of Indians, accompanied by a few Frenchmen, under the lead of a well-known partisan chief, Hertel de Rouville. Men, women, and children were butchered, and about a hundred prisoners carried off to Canada. The most conspicuous of the prisoners was the Reverend John Williams, pastor of the church, who left a record of the hardships experienced by himself and his associates in captivity. Many of the weaker prisoners died or were murdered by their captors. Of those who finally reached Canada, some were ultimately exchanged


and returned to their homes; but others, especially the children, yielded to the efforts of the Catholic missionaries or were so much influenced by their Indian captors that they were unwilling to be reclaimed.1

     Even more characteristic of the border warfare than this Deerfield expedition were the innumerable frontier raids made by comparatively small bodies of French and Indians, or of Indians alone. In this, as in the previous war, the ravages of the enemy were not confined to Maine, New Hampshire, and the remote Connecticut valley towns. The Indian war-parties penetrated into the eastern counties of Massachusetts, even to such towns as Reading and Sudbury, within a few miles of Boston, and Haverhill, which suffered one of the most destructive raids of the whole war. Many of these expeditions were sent out by Governor Vaudreuil, and he had the efficient co-operation of the French missionaries. In 1703 the Jesuit Father Rale reported that the Abenakis would take up the hatchet whenever he pleased; and Vaudreuil noted complacently afterwards that the small parties sent out had not failed “seriously to inconvenience the English.” The French government at home ultimately gave its approval of this savage warfare; in 1707, Pontchartrain, the French colonial minister, told Vaudreuil that he did well “to write to the Missionaries

     1 Penhallow, Wars of New England (ed. of 1859), 16-23; Drake, Border Wars of New England, chaps. xvi., xviii.


among the Abenakis to have the war continued against the English.”1

     Against these terrible onslaughts there seemed to be no certain means of defence. The line of exposed settlements was too long to be continuously defended; the precise point of attack could rarely be anticipated; and the communications were slow and uncertain. It was during the winter of 1703-1704, while Massachusetts and New Hampshire had nearly nine hundred men in service, that the disaster occurred at Deerfield. From time to time small retaliatory expeditions were sent out, and, if successful, they returned with Indian scalps, for which the provincial government offered liberal bounties. Penhallow tells of one such party sent up the Connecticut from Northampton in 1704, consisting of Mr. Caleb Lyman (subsequently elder of a church in Boston) and five friendly Indians. After ten days’ absence the party returned, having killed eight Indians and taken six scalps. It was estimated, however, that every Indian killed or taken had cost the English at least £1000. To the direct charges of the war must be added the wide-spread destruction of property on land, and the serious damage done to New England fisheries and commerce by the French privateers.1

     1 N. Y. Docs. Rel. to Col. Hist., IX. 755-760, 504; Drake, Border Wars, passim; Penhallow, Wars of New England, passim.
     2 Penhallow, Wars of New England, 25-31, 33, 48, 57; Drake, Border Wars, passim, esp. 251.


     In 1705, Governor Dudley attempted to solve the problem by proposing the neutrality of the colonies, but he refused to accept Vaudreuil’s counter proposal that the New-Englanders should be excluded from the fisheries on the Acadian coasts. Under these circumstances the Indian problem could only be solved by striking at the French, who stood behind the savages. For measures of this sort, however, New England was poorly organized: the colonies of Rhode Island and Connecticut were still under independent governments which could not be counted upon for continuous hearty support; and even in Massachusetts there were serious divisions. The governor, Joseph Dudley, though a man of ability, was regarded with great suspicion by many people under his jurisdiction. He was charged with complicity in an illegal trade which was being carried on with the enemy, and which undoubtedly increased unnecessarily their power for offensive measures against the English. These charges were doubtless much exaggerated, but so conservative a man as Samuel Sewall thought the governor not wholly free from blame.1

     Again, as in the earlier wars, New England suffered seriously from the absence of trained military leaders and a disciplined soldiery, with the result

     1 N. Y. Docs. Rel. to Col. Hist., IX., 770-772, 776, 779; Hutchinson, Hist. of Mass. Bay (ed. of 1795), II., 141-148; Drake, Border Wars, 210-215; Mass. Hist., Soc., Collections, 5th series, VI., 65-131*, esp. 111*.


that expeditions prepared with great enthusiasm and with considerable financial sacrifices often resulted in humiliating failures. The first retaliatory expedition on any considerable scale was that of Church in 1704, the last enterprise of that veteran fighter of King Philip’s War. After unsuccessful efforts to find forces of French and Indians along the Maine coast, Church sailed to Acadia, ravaged the French settlements on the Bay of Fundy, and took a number of prisoners. The expedition also entered Port Royal harbor, but the fort was not attacked; and the failure to produce more positive results called forth severe criticism both of Church and of Governor Dudley.1

     As the war proceeded, the importance of Acadia as a base for French operations against New England was keenly felt; and in 1707 a new expedition was organized against it, to which Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts contributed, though Connecticut held aloof. Two regiments commanded by Colonel March were sent by sea under convoy of a royal man-of-war and an armed vessel belonging to Massachusetts, and appeared before Port Royal in June, 1707, with some prospect of success. The French governor, Subercase, made a vigorous defence, and March, though an Indian fighter of good reputation and undoubted courage,

     1 Penhallow, Wars of New England, 28-30; Hutchinson, Hist. of Mass. Bay (ed. of 1795) II., 132-135; Drake, Border Wars, chap. xx.


proved unequal to his task. He finally lost heart and after some skirmishing abandoned the siege. There was great indignation in Boston at this fiasco, and Dudley sent peremptory orders to the fleet to return to the siege; but the attacking force was now too demoralized, while the French had materially strengthened their position, so that the siege was a second time abandoned.1

     While New England was waging this comparatively ineffective warfare with the French and Inddians [sic], the South-Carolinians had been making a creditable stand against their enemies. From its beginning the Carolina settlement had been jealously watched by its Spanish neighbors at St. Augustine, who, in 1686 destroyed the Scotch settlement at Port Royal. The colonists were then eager to organize a retaliatory expedition, but were held back by the proprietary government. During the next sixteen years Spain and England were not only nominally at peace, but for a considerable time allies against France.2 By 1702, however, this restraint upon the rival colonies was removed.

     Early in 1702, before the queen’s proclamation of war was known in America, the Spaniards organized a force, composed mainly of Indian allies with a few whites, for a land attack upon South Carolina.

     1 Parkman, Half-Century of Conflict, I., 120-127; Hutchinson, Hist. of Mass. Bay (ed. of 1795), II., 150-156; Penhallow, Wars of New England, 50-52.
     2 McCrady, South Carolina under Proprietary Government, 216-222.


The English traders, however, were warned by the friendly Creek Indians, and formed from them a strong opposing force, so that the invaders were surprised and routed. The South-Carolinians now determined to take the offensive, and in the autumn of 1702 sent a small fleet with several hundred provincial militia and Indians from Port Royal against St. Augustine. The town was destroyed but there was not enough artillery for a successful siege of the fort, and before the needed supplies could be secured, Governor Moore, who was in command of the expedition, was alarmed by the appearance of two hostile frigates and hastily retreated. The South - Carolinians, like the New-Englanders before Port Royal, had involved themselves in heavy expense with no tangible results.

     In the following year a new governor, Sir Nathaniel Johnson, received his commission from the proprietors, and adopted in the main a defensive policy. Nevertheless, Colonel Moore was allowed to undertake a raid into the enemy’s territory; and during the winter of 1703-1704 he fought a pitched battle with several hundred Indians under Spanish leaders. The English were completely victorious, and after ravaging the country returned with a large number of prisoners to Charleston.1

     Two years now passed without any important operations, and the interval was used by Governor

     1 McCrady, South Carolina under Proprietary Government, 377-396; Carroll, Collections, II., 348-353, 574.


Johnson in guarding against possible invasion by land or sea. In 1706 a French and Spanish expedition sailed from Havana under a French commander, Monsieur le Feboure, and, after receiving reinforcements at St. Augustine, appeared before Charleston, August 24. There was great anxiety in the town, which was already suffering a severe epidemic of yellow fever, but the governor faced the situation with admirable courage and energy. Militia were promptly brought in from the surrounding country; and when, after three days’ delay, the French commander presented his demand for surrender, he received a defiant response. The enemy then landed a part of his force, but one landing party was defeated with considerable loss. The Carolinians now assumed the offensive and sent a small fleet against the invaders, whereupon the French commander hastily abandoned the attack and sailed away. Almost immediately after his departure another French man-of-war appeared, and, apparently in ignorance of the defeat of the fleet, entered Sewee Bay, a few miles northeast of Charleston. A small landing party sent out by the French commander was defeated and the ship itself was captured by the Charleston fleet. In a little more than a week the Carolinians had repelled a formidable invading force and taken over two hundred French and Spanish prisoners.1

     1 McCrady, South Carolina under Proprietary Government, 396-401.


     This historic defence of Charleston was the last important event of the war on the southern frontier. Neither party had been able to hold territory belonging to the other, but the English inflicted more damage than they suffered, and were, on the whole, entitled to the honors of the conflict.

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Dinsmore Documentation  presents  Classics of American Colonial History