Skip to main content

tv   Lectures in History  CSPAN  July 20, 2014 12:02pm-1:11pm EDT

12:02 pm
they see this as the moment when french-canadian society was taken over, conquered by the british, and therefore, the moment where their the seized culture has to start dealing with british canada in a a long and brutal struggle for autonomy. the name the french and indian war comes from the british themselves. this is who they are blaming, blaming french aggression, indian actors and their allies. they put the blame on the french. the seven years' war is its name in europe. the war begins to north america in 1754 and ends with a peace treaty in 1763. despite the fact that it lasts nine years, it is still called the seven years' war, because the nine years' war was already taken.
12:03 pm
so we call it the seven years' war. but really, it is the nine year war, and it is part of an almost century long war for various colonial locations throughout the globe, in this case, particularly north america. instead of telling the story of the seven years' war as it is always told, which typically in north america is something along the lines of this is the war that set up the american revolution. this is the war that kicked the french out of north america, led the colonists to be more unified, and led to all of the crises that would culminate in the american revolution. there is a documentary that pbs put out not long ago and they call it the war that made america. this kind of storyline is an important one. and it is one we could sell, but because this is a course on a french atlantic world, i wanted to focus on the war as it was experienced by the people we have been talking about all semester. the war in the french atlantic. much less focus on north
12:04 pm
america. much less focus on future implications for the united states. much more focus on the french atlantic as a whole. there are lots of ways i could do this. i could talk about diplomats. i could talk about kings. i could talk about battles. but instead i want to talk about individuals. how four different individuals experience the war, the dislocations, adapted to the war, and what it tells about the theme of broader imperialism. the four individuals -- charles-michel de langlade. he is of french and native american dissent. marie-joseph de l'enfant jesus. she is an ursuline. she was born in the english colonies with a different name. esther wheelwright.
12:05 pm
we will talk about how she was captured, adopted and "redeemed" by the french. she became an important figure in the ursuline order. the third is a man named charles thevenot. he is a mayor, and he was born a french territory. i'm sorry -- he was of both french and african descent. and he represents some of the larger themes we have talked about there. negotiations of french and african power. the negotiation of commerce and power. the fourth person we do not have a name. the executioner on the island of
12:06 pm
martinique. he had to do some pretty grim things. we like to talk about grim things in this class, so i guess we will continue that tradition. if we're going to talk about the causes of the war, we can step back and give two general causes and some particular causes. first, the general causes. the largest general cause is the integration of the atlantic world in the 18th century. what i mean by that -- across the course of the 18th century, colonial spaces, whether it is in west africa, the caribbean, north america, even in europe -- these places are becoming increasingly integrated over the course of the century through things like the slave trade and
12:07 pm
other commodity trades. as they become closer and closer in economic ties, in the movement of people, in the administrative apparatus that brings people together, it means empires start to think about the interrelationship between these various places. something that happens in the ohio river valley can raise concerns about what will happen in bengal. and what happens in the caribbean raises concerns over what can happen in senegal. and as soon as you have this integration, conflicts that might have been local, that might have seemed small in the past, can start to take on a more global, oversized importance. because they start to seem like patterns of behavior of the other empire.
12:08 pm
there are some ways in which the integration elevated the concerns of the french and british and led to war. we will talk about why in a second. a second reason we can talk about as an origin of the war is the general search for wealth in the americas. again, this is a fairly general category. this has two components. one is the search for wealth in ways people understand and know. meaning a commodity they sold in the past -- meaning caribbean slavery particularly -- but also spanish mining, which produced a lot of wealth, and was the envy of britain and france. there becomes an increasing concern that colonial economies and colonial imports and colonists themselves, as consumers of european goods, are really important to european empires. and that increased importance means empires are more willing to go to war to defend those
12:09 pm
interests and expand those interests there. the one thing about north america that set it apart was how little europeans actually knew about it. this map suggests ways in which the french and british sort of have a lot of conjecture, a lot of assumption about what is in north america, but also a lot of speculation. mapping, they had not figured out what north america looked like. this map is a pretty good example. it is fairly well mapped through the mississippi valley, and even the american southwest, but the american northwest is blank. they put those cartoonish and's it to mask their level of ignorance. this ignorance had important consequences. for the french, that ignorance
12:10 pm
about the american west at first met they believed anything could be out there. they were really excited about the possibility may be of silver mines or a northwest passage. they thought it might be an opportunity to get out and trade in the pacific very easily, which was a centuries-old goal in north america for french colonists. after the mid-century, french diplomats and colonial officials became more and more skeptical of north america. just over the horizon, they had thought over and over, there was going to be this great source of wealth, and over and over again they were shown to be wrong. it was the mid-century where they start to learn about the great plains a little bit more, how distant and vast they are. there are no sources of wealth they can see. great britain at the same time is really interested, not so
12:11 pm
much about what is available in north america, but how they can get to the pacific, to access spanish wealth. places like hudson bay, which is really quite isolated, they start to search for passages out of north america so they can access spanish wealth. the french watch this carefully. they are afraid, even if they are skeptical, that they may be beaten to the punch, and the british would get access to the spanish trade and they would be left out of the game and they would be increasingly eclipsed. not only in the colonies, but also as a european power. as we have seen all the way back to the 16th century, colonial wealth translates to european power. remember, the spanish century? all that wealth in america
12:12 pm
generates power for spain. that example is not lost on europeans. it is heightened by the 18th century because britain is growing more and more powerful and france is growing more and more concerned. as britain starts to move westward, they start to take an interest in the area the on the appalachians and hudson's bay. france sees this as a threat. not just in north america, but in europe at large. there are are also a series of events that take this concern -- this general concern -- and the integration of the atlantic world and make it particular and create a spark that then leads to war. there are two instances i am going to talk about. i could talk about a lot more. one is in 1752 and the other is in 1754. the first one in 1752. in present day ohio, not far from dayton, there was a settlement started by miami indians, but also had a lot of other native peoples, that was set up as a trade center. the point of this was for the indians to be able to trade
12:13 pm
equally with the english and the french. because it was not at the french trading post, and it was not at these sort of british trading areas in pennsylvania, but it was intended it could access both. so it became a very independent place. a place that tried to set itself apart from empire, that tried to play them off each other, which it had done for quite a while. by the mid-18th century, that was getting harder and harder. these alliances became more and more firm. the french were less and less interested in being an alternative to the british. they really wanted these
12:14 pm
alliances to be exclusive. remember we talked about the native american cultural expectation that trade and alliance were taken to be one thing? this is something the french kept repeating back to them. if you are going to trade with the british, you are their allies and our enemies. the indians would counter with, you are trading with our enemies, so we will do the same with you. there was a bit of jockeying for power in all of this. but mainly it was about commercial interests. these native peoples wanted a place where they could access french goods and british goods. the french in the early 1750's came to see this as a threat. partly because their entire existence in north america depended on native allies. these alliances that kept them safe in previous colonial wars looked like they might the starting to break down. and they were afraid if the example was set that there could
12:15 pm
be a large independent town that did not really have to choose a side, that's their whole model for north american colonization would be threatened. they could not rely on these alliances as buffers against the british. because these people would also be trade partners with the british. so, they gathered a group of ottawa indians and french settlers in 1752, and they raided it and destroyed it. they waited until the men were away. they attacked in a time of weakness and it was a complete rout. this success on the french side upset both the native americans and the british. as you can imagine. the native americans were upset because they felt like they were being threatened by people were their trading partners, and in fact even by other indians, who in some cases were extended kin.
12:16 pm
ottawas raiding ottawas. miamis in illinois who are allied to the french were involved in a raid that was targeting kin. the british see this as a threat because they see this as french ambition on ohio. if you ever thought ohio would be worth fighting a global war over -- i'm sorry, anyone from ohio. fighting a global war over dayton -- it is not what you expect is all i am saying. but the british start seeing this action as part of this larger concern that the french are becoming more and more aggressive. the french are getting increasingly bold in their efforts to try to curtail british growth in the colonies. the other thing that happens is it solidifies around the british colonies this narrative that the french are trying to take over
12:17 pm
the ohio valley and ohio itself. at the time in the 1750's, ohio is more or less empty. it is not totally empty. there are some native villages along the rivers, but not many. and there certainly are not many colonial settlements. it is one of the reasons this settlement was able to exist the way it was. but as the french come and take the settlement, the british become concerned because they see this as an example of larger and more aggressive actions by the french. and the french start building forts along the ohio river drainage system, broadly speaking. the one that most concerns the british is fort duquesne, which was established at present day
12:18 pm
pittsburgh. again, if you think a global war is going to be fought over ohio and pittsburgh -- well, it's true. the french start to build fort duquesne. word comes to the british this is happening. it raises this big concern that the french are trying to push out any british opportunities and the ohio valley. and they would use this, by the way, to launch frontier raids. during king george's war, there had been dozens and dozens of french and native raids on frontier settlements that had been devastating. we talked earlier about the war of the spanish succession, how the villages were left sort of devastated on the french and british side. this happened again in the 1740's. not long after that they see the french moving in, attacking a
12:19 pm
native town, setting up a fort, and they fear that it will be a launching spot for a lot of those raids, and they start to demand the british colonies take interest and hopefully try to stop it. in 1754, there is a young military officer who was commissioned to go up and check things out. his job is really just a reconnaissance mission. he is supposed to go up, find out what is happening with the french. he does take a small group of soldiers with him. he joins up with some native allies.
12:20 pm
they go and they find a fort, a makeshift fort, that has army officers or militia and in confusion and panic, the british fire shots. there is a small skirmish, and this is seen as the start of actual hostilities. the name of this military officer? george washington. george washington starts the first global war. all these surprises, right? they are fighting over pittsburgh and ohio and george washington is to blame. all of that to say, a very small place that does not have a lot going, because of these larger concerns of empire, takes on a larger importance. and becomes something that people feel is worth going to war over. the governor of virginia is really shocked about this. in part because this territory of ohio is a region virginians
12:21 pm
believe they have a right to. and they see their future moving into virginia and, particularly those in power, speculating on land in ohio and making a great deal of wealth as people move out. governor dinwiddie -- wouldn't you like to have that name? he says this. maybe we can have a microphone and have someone read this for us. can we go that route? who wants to do this for us? do not want to be on tv? all right, go ahead. >> we must not suspend or delay the proper measures to defend ourselves. all north america will be lost if these practices are tolerated, and no work can be
12:22 pm
worse than this, then the suffering of such insults as these. the truth is the french claim almost all of north america. and from whence they will drive us as soon as they please or as soon as there shall be a declared war. >> ok, so dinwiddie expresses this concern. the french are grabbing all of north america and they are becoming more aggressive. the concern is not just they will lose ohio. the concern is not there will be indian skirmishes over trade. the concern is they are going to lose all of north america. this concern is a little exaggerated. it is a concern that really is not based in that one act. it is instead based in a series of interpretations of a bunch of separate acts all over north america, and even globally, where the french and british
12:23 pm
start to believe that the other is intent on taking them over. at the end of a series of colonial global wars, they probably are not totally wrong, but in this case, it is sort of reading into something very small something that ends up very large. in 1754, the british colonists do start to fight actively against the french, and it is not until 1756 it becomes a war in europe. but the fighting in north america starts in 1754. we're going to go through a real brief timeline and then i want to look at the individuals we will focus on. we talked about the 1754 battle of fort necessity. this is the battle where washington -- battle is a little bit grander than it deserves. it is really just a quick firefight. that is what really sparks the war. early on, the french have a lot
12:24 pm
of successes. in 1755, when the british send regular army officers and soldiers to help with the colonists, to fight against the french, they think they are going to win pretty easily. they are dismissive of native americans as warriors, and they think they can't possibly stand against the disciplined european regiment. in 1755, a general by the name of braddock lead the campaign to retake fort duquesne. he is very confident and thinks they will build on that and push the french out of other areas. it turns out they are completely wrong. they face not just a small contingent of french, but several hundred native american allies who have traveled from as far away as modern-day wisconsin
12:25 pm
and michigan. and these indians have come to fight with their french allies, because they have a material and cultural relationship that we have talked about so many times. this commercial connection to the french that is also inseparable from these cultural and military, diplomatic relationships. and by this time, many of them have family relationships. many of the native people who come from the great lakes region to fight have, in one way or another, a family connection to the french. they may be the child of a french man and a native woman. they might be married themselves to a native woman or the native men might have connections through their sisters, their kin, with the french. we will talk about that more in a minute.
12:26 pm
but the braddock expedition is completely routed. just to give a sense of the level of disparity in the victory, braddock loses 400 dead and 400 wounded. there are only about a dozen on the french side killed. it is a massively lopsided victory for the french. the british are really surprised. the next year the focus of the war starts in europe and britain is not sending a lot of troops or supplies yet. the french are able to have a series of early victories. in 1757, famously they take fort william henry. it is depicted in "the last of the mohicans," if you have seen this. this is again a group of french and native allies. they go and lay siege to the fort.
12:27 pm
eventually the british surrender there. following that siege, there was an incident where there was a group of native americans who were promised that they could plunder the fort and be paid for their efforts by getting a lot of colonial trade goods. they were then told they could not plunder, because the terms of the surrender meant the british had to be respected, captives could not be taken, goods could not be taken. the indians felt betrayed. they had been sold a bill of goods. they decided on their own accord to raid, take the goods and prisoners.
12:28 pm
this becomes known to the british as the massacre at fort william henry. and it becomes a rallying cry for people in britain who are supporters of north american colonies to try to rally for more money and military support for their efforts in north america. eventually, they do. in 1758, some of the british decide to send massive amounts military support. william pitt decides they need to focus completely on north america to defeat the french and then focus on other areas, like senegal and the caribbean. the push in north america becomes very successful very fast. by 1759, they had taken over quebec in a siege. the next year, 1760, montréal surrenders, really without a fight. and north america within two years becomes completely surrendered to the british in war.
12:29 pm
really a profound turnaround. and north america within two years becomes completely surrendered to the british in this war. the british begin attacking areas that are important for the slave and sugar trades. in the case of senegal, one other commodity -- gum arabic. we talked about that little bit. in senegal, there are only two fortresses the french hold. of these two places become access points for this gum trade. the british decide to use the war as an opportunity to take this over and to benefit from this gum trade. in 1752, they also attacked martinique. in 1763, there is a capitulation treaty. a couple items that ended up in that treaty -- first, the french
12:30 pm
would get completely out of new france. they gave up on north america. canada went to britain and louisiana went to spain. a lot of the territories to the mesh taken over by the british get returned. goret is returned to the french. martinique was returned to the french. the french do end up losing a couple of caribbean islands, but not the major ones. they remain in the french empire, and that has profound implications for the second half of the 18th century. it is where french colonialism will concentrate, on those three islands. with that brief timeline, you can see that this war has important geopolitical implications. meaning that north america completely changes. in a landscape where native
12:31 pm
peoples could play french and british off one another. that is no longer the case. the british are the only game in town. it changes the way colonial powers deal with native people. it also means all kinds of areas that were contested between the british and the french are no longer contested and the british can move in. it allows for a lot more westward movement, which has important implications later. we will talk about 1763 and beyond next time. but personally, it was experienced in very different ways. people on the ground who made accommodations to the french empire did not experience the geopolitical settlement of this as some kind of massive break. they oftentimes just continue
12:32 pm
d doing what they had been doing, and they used it as an opportunity may be to make their situation just a little bit better. i want to talk about these four individuals and how they experience the war, what role they played, and how they adapted to its course and its outcome. first, i want to talk about charles-michel de langlade. his full name is kind of a mouthful. he was born here, and he is the son of a french trader and minor military officer. and his mother is an ottawa indian. and her brother is an important ottawa war chief. he is born into an important ottawa family and in the region
12:33 pm
an important french family. he is raised speaking both ottawa and french and he is involved in the fur trade. and military expeditions. his connections to these two communities are equally strong. he is catholic, but he also participates in native war rituals. he is loyal to the french crown, but mostly to the extent that they are able to serve the interests of his ottawa family. in 1752, langlade plays an important role in the attack in ohio. because he's equally connected to the french and ottawa he is , able to get a large group of supporters among the ottawa to join the expedition, despite the fact they will be attacking people, in some cases, that were previously allies or in some few
12:34 pm
cases were extended kin. he is the linchpin of the recruitment effort, getting native people to participate in the attack. he is also the linchpin in getting native people to participate in another battle where braddock was defeated. all of those indian allies that travel from the great lakes and end up fighting and defeating braddock were connected in some way to the networks langlade had formed. he was also present at the battle of william henry -- fort william henry, and he is also present at the siege of quebec. he is sort of like the forrest gump of colonial wars in the mid 18th century.
12:35 pm
significantly, his family and thends stop supporting french in large numbers after 1757. this plays a role in france's losses in the latter part of the war. part of that is that william pitt dumps a bunch of money and sends all kinds of support. part of it is the native american alliance starts to fracture. their two main reasons. one has to do with fort william henry itself. the native people were promised they would be able to get goods, get captives, and they had been denied this. it meant they lacked trust now. and when the french asked them to come to war again in 1758, a lot of them stayed back. because they did not feel like they would be taken care of
12:36 pm
after the war. the second reason has to do with disease. in 1757, there is a smallpox epidemic. it is brought back to the great lakes by the soldiers and warriors who fought in the early stages of the war. when they return, people start to get sick. throughout the fall of 1757, hundreds die. if you look through the catholic baptismal registries for october 1757, for example, you start to see these terse little entries. baptized so and so, in danger of death. buried so-and-so. this happens day after day, the slow, steady dying off of people in the settlement. and because it had been brought back after the war, people do not want to go to the war front
12:37 pm
because they are afraid they might catch the disease and bring it back. all of that together suggest there are personal and family reasons for participating in these imperial rivalries and commercial reasons. trade is really central, really important. langlade is actually at michelin mackinac when the french come to take it over. after the fall of montréal, there is an agreement the great lakes will be handed over to be british. when they arrived to take it over, it is langlade who hands over the reins to the british. and he becomes an important ally of the british. why would he do this? he is french. the fact is, the british are there. and his family, the ottawas,
12:38 pm
are still there. he has to do the best he can do. he becomes a trade partner to the british. he also becomes a military ally to the british and he fights with the british in the american revolution. he finds a way to adapt himself, first to the french. his family had done this for generations. and then again to the british as they arrive. it suggests a couple of things. one, this french native system -- this relationship between trade, cultural adaptation, intermarriage, it creates profound loyalties, but not loyalties that are national in any sense. it is not as though now that the french are gone he cannot have anything to do with the british. his loyalties are personal. his loyalties are local. when the british are the personal and the local, he finds it is no problem at all to adapt those loyalties and be allies and trade partners with the
12:39 pm
british. another thing it signals is that this french system doesn't really go away. there are some problems at the end of the war, and we will talk about those next time -- some serious problems -- but in the longer run, the system of trade, alliance, intermarriage persists well after the french leave. the second person we're going to talk about is esther wheelwright, also known as marie-joseph de l'enfant jesus. esther wheelwright was born in maine. in 1703, during the war of the spanish succession, she was taken captive by a group of indians who are allies of the french. they adopted her into their family and they eventually would
12:40 pm
allow the french governor to pay them a price and reclaim her. he adopted her. she lived for several years in the early 1700's in the home of the french governor. eventually, they decided to put her in the convent, and she is able then to learn french. she becomes catholic. and she becomes very well-versed in the politics and the religious agendas of the ursuline order. as we talked about before, this includes a lot of social and political involvement. a lot of the efforts to educate. a lot of the efforts to take care of the poor and the indigent. a lot of efforts to take care of social services, broadly speaking. they were performed by these nuns and they operated largely independently. do you remember a story we
12:41 pm
told about martinique, when the ursulines were suspected of being part of the slave conspiracy? the government tried to put pressure on them. they were easily able to deflect that. the order maintained this corporate sovereignty, the separation from control of the government for quite some time. well, the life of a nun at this point was very different than you might think. they are very involved. they are not hidden behind walls. they are important figures in the community. during the siege of quebec, marie-joseph starts to play an important role. she is bilingual. she speaks french and english. she was born in the english colonies. when the british take over, they take over the ursuline convent
12:42 pm
and turn it into a military hospital. the first two floors are dedicated to the healing of soldiers, and she plays an important role because she is able to communicate with people and she has this family connection still to be british colonies. and she is able to become an intermediary. then she is able to turn that into becoming an important political figure who negotiates the place of catholicism, the place of the ursulines and what is now becoming a british colony. as the british take over quebec, they make accommodations to the french canadians. they allow them to practice catholicism. there are legal accommodations so certain parts of their legal system remains intact. esther, marie-joseph becomes mother superior of this convent
12:43 pm
because of her ability to be the intermediary between these french-canadians and the british. this suggests a couple of things. there are a lot of things it could suggest. there is a scholar named ann littles writing a biography of this woman right now. i am very interested to read it when it comes out. in one way, it suggests adaptability. she was captured by the abernathy. a terrifying experience. i don't think anyone would disagree with that. imagine being taken away to a place where you do not speak the language. you have seen a lot of violence. you are shifted again and put in the home of the governor. you're not familiar with with where you are. you don't know anybody a terrifying situation.
12:44 pm
but over time, she develops the ability to play an important social, religious role in the colony. because you have to do what you have to do, i guess, is part of it. it also suggests ways in which violence in the colonial setting can create not only distance and separation, but also points of contact and integration. there was a group of english captives in new france that had become catholic and remained there after the captivity, but they continue to remain contacts with the english colonies, and in fact this happens between montréal and albany, where there were all of these movements between the french and british colonies based on the extended kin networks of these people who had, through various ways, been involved in colonial war. so, the war does not just separate, right? war can bring people violently together. the other thing that is important to recognize in the
12:45 pm
french colonial setting, women played an important social and political role. all right -- example number three. charles thevenot was an interesting personality. he was born in a small island off the coast of senegal. he was the son of a french officer in the west indian company and a west african woman. he was what people call mixed-race. at the time they called them what was french for mulatto, meaning he had an african mother and french father. during the 18th century, there were a series of accommodations that were essential to the operation of these colonial spaces. if you remember, african women become very important in
12:46 pm
connecting the french members of the company to the people who are doing trading, whether it is gum arabic or gold or slaves. and families really run these operations day-to-day. when the british see -- when the british lay siege. it is not much of a siege. they really just march in and take over. they find this arrangement is quite surprising to them. it is not what they are used to. it is not what they have seen in other places. charles comes forward early on after the british arrived to let them know he has a certain stature in this community. he comes forward to insist that their rights as -- it is like an inhabitant, someone who has property.
12:47 pm
and his rights as a leader in the community, his right to have inheritance, his right to have recognition as a free person, as being able to participate in civic society. and the british that are pressured to recognize these mixed-race families in the treaty of capitulation. so, they insist in the treaty itself that they are guaranteed their property. so, in a setting where it could have gone a very different way -- these people could have been marginalized. they could have been the real losers in this situation. the mixed-race community actually rise in authority. and they actually gain a more firm foothold. he calls himself, when he goes
12:48 pm
to the british, the mayor. he says that he is the -- there is this position that has been recognized, although the french never administered that -- never used that terminology. it was really more in practice, he was the one who was the leader of this community. he wanted that formalized and used the british arrival for the opportunity to formalize with law that status that had only been a working relationship before. under the british, even though the french lose out they have to , flee and leave all of their property behind, this mixed race community is able to benefit from this in some ways. the other thing that happened, when the company leaves, they leave behind a lot of stuff. buildings, trade goods, boats. the families who were involved in this community and in trade
12:49 pm
with them end up taking this over. not only do they elevate themselves politically, but also materially, and they end up in some ways really benefiting from this takeover. now, he is interesting in another way. one of the things he discusses would be british when he is -- with the british when he is trying to make his case for being an important figure is the fact that he has also been to france. because his father was in the company, he then got a job as part of the company, and in that capacity he traveled at least once, maybe a couple times to a place called orleans, were the company had its headquarters. he spoke french. he spent time living in france. he had knowledge of the local african community and of the operation of french trade.
12:50 pm
so, it allowed for him to really benefit from both of these worlds. the other thing it did for the british was that it forced them into new arrangements had not really had and their west -- in their west african settlements. and in some ways, it gave them talking points for new discussions. there was a man by the name of john lindsay who arrived there with the british invasion. he was a priest, a religious figure. he writes a memoir. in that, he talks about this community. he talks about people like this, and he says, maybe this is a good idea. maybe we ought to be intermarrying with africans and it could work out for the best. not that everybody believes that, right? it is not all of the sudden kumbaya and racism is gone. but it does allow for talking points, for legal recognition in some cases of status that
12:51 pm
otherwise would not have been recognized. and after all of this is over, there are a bunch of shifts back and forth of property. they end up losing the only thing the french get back. that becomes the head of the french slave trade later. we will talk about the longer-term implications for the french empire in senegal, which we will talk about next time. the final story is the sadder one. maybe i should not have had this last. this is kind of depressing, the story. martinique. remember a few weeks ago we read the trial transcripts of the slave conspiracy interrogations from 1710? and you remember, that conspiracy was concerning to be french, particularly because it happened at a time of war. this was during the war of the spanish succession. british ships are coming and going. they were afraid the island was going to be attacked.
12:52 pm
at that moment it crystallizes , their general fear of enslaved people rising up and claiming authority, claiming freedom. the same thing happens during the seven years' war. starting in the late 1750's and going up to the siege of martinique in 1762, there are a series of high-profile escapes and plots discovered. there was a man who wrote a memoir. he was from martinique. he was a slave holder. he talks about how day after day, runaway slaves were brought back to the square in martinique and executed in a very public way. because they had to be examples. because as they saw the masts of british ships coming closer and closer, as they heard these stories of british takeover of colonial areas, they became
12:53 pm
concerned this would be a pretext not just for individuals running away, but a coordinated colonial rebellion. into59 and 1760 going 1761, the executioner is asked to do a series of horrific things. he not only has to hang people who tried to run away, but do things like break them on the wheel. he is charged with burning their bodies after they are killed publicly. to terrify. remember angelique in montréal, how she was hanged? her body was burned. it was an act of terrorism, right, to terrorize the people into submission. this man himself, the executioner wasn't enslaved -- was an enslaved person. he was part of this community at st. pierre that certainly
12:54 pm
involved a lot of friends. these people, when they were not working, they would spend time together. they had social relationships, sexual relationships, family relationships. and this community, even though it was a port city, is a fairly small town. so, what is in all likelihood the case? this enslaved man as being asked to do these horrific things not to an abstract, faceless group of people, but his friends. imagine that for a second. the french tried to put a good face on this war. they try to say we will fight to stop the british, who are going be desperate's the last -- be despots. they tell the indians they will be destroyed by the british because they will no longer have
12:55 pm
us to worry about. that turns out to be true. but they say other things to the slaves in martinique. the horror stories you hear about the british caribbean do not happen here because we treat you as catholics, more as equals than these horrible british. no one really believes it, it turns out, and they are right not to believe it. the violence of slavery was at the center of this war. it is important to end on this in some ways, because if we forget this, we forget really what is at stake. there is the potential of the spanish silver trade at stake here. that is theoretical. there is the potential control of the trade in india and bengal, where you will get cotton and silk and other things. that is a small sliver. what is really at stake, for the french in particular, is there caribbean sugar production. because that, in the americas is what is profitable. remember the document i had you read? he was laying out this argument
12:56 pm
about why north america is so important. he talks about france, louisiana. he is protecting so much because -- he is protesting so much because fewer and fewer of his french contemporaries believed him. he makes such a strong case for north america being important, because he has to make a strong case for north america being important. if it were self-evident, he would not have to make such a strong case. no one is making detailed arguments about why it is profitable. it just is. it is consuming a massive amount of energy and attention because it is producing a massive amount of wealth. that would be even more true after the war. the caribbean really is the heart of what the french are trying to defend in the americas. the extent to which they are interested in north america is largely as a way of both
12:57 pm
buffering against british competition -- which can hurt the caribbean -- and providing potential supply areas or other things. like illinois provided weeks for heat for new orleans. there were various plans for new france and the caribbean. it never worked out because the growing season in quebec is really too short for that to work out. but the center of this war was really about imperial profits. it was about colonial power -- not in the abstract, but the details of finances, colonial wealth. if we step back, we go back to the beginning of this war, this idea that north america was becoming marginalized in the french understanding of its potential and less and less the object of french interests while the caribbean is becoming more and more the object of french interests.
12:58 pm
this means in negotiations at the end of the war, france does not fight to our to keep north -- too hard to keep north america. in fact, there is a brief point where no one wants canada. i say that not to hurt canadians' feelings. but the british and french and re hot potatoing canada for a while. the british really do want it, but there is a point where they believe it is so vast, hard to contain, hard to control, and the production has been so limited compared to the caribbean or india or other places that produce real well, -- real wealth, that this region fur trading, that this region of fur trading and small-scale native wealth is not really a prize to be won. britain decides to get it because now they have an idea in
12:59 pm
claim a north america. for them, it is a real value. they can make their plans for north america, not vis-à-vis all of these geopolitical concerns, but they can just take north america and not have to worry about french competition. france is most interested in getting back its wealthiest colony. so, they want to get back martinique particularly. they are all too willing to give up new france if they can get back martinique, which they do. >> in west africa, the french get back goret. the french lose out in india so the british can consolidate their control over india. this is why after the war, british india starts to become a real powerhouse in terms of the empire. it is late 18th century, much more valuable than it is
1:00 pm
earlier. they no longer have other colonial if we look at the french practices in north america and think about how they sustained french presence over a century, just a few thousand people coming to north america integrating into the native families that make up the north american cultural landscape, that strategy worked pretty well. that strategy sustained them and allows the french with just a few thousand people to maintain claim on the continent, except the governor of virginia feels they are a genuine threat to the far more successful british colonies. the other thing i think this highlights is that empire itself is often thought of as an abstraction. the empire is something that comes from europe and goes out.
1:01 pm
when in fact, empire is something experienced on the ground. it is something constituted by the people as much it is experienced by them. he is part french, part indian heritage. he is partly loyal to the french cause, partly loyal to the ottawa cause. he is part of the colonial world as the french officers. an english girl captured and brought to québec can play an important role in society. a mixed-race man in senegal and his family can be the engine that makes colonialism go, even though in a larger sense the
1:02 pm
greatest victims of this colonialism were african peoples. right? not all of them and not all the time. but in all of that, we should not think of empire as something particularly rosy. it is hard, painful, violent. the actions of the executioner of martinique should remind us even if in the individual situation people are able to adapt, able to make their world make sense in the context of empire, the choices they make are embedded in this larger system of power that is based for its economy and all of its structural strength in the violent transportation of africans into the slave trade for the production of commodities. right? so this world of empire is complex. it is contingent.
1:03 pm
it can work for some people. but at the same time, it is not something just contested or negotiated or just experience as personal because there are abstract powers at work that we need to keep in mind. after 1763, the french have to rethink the nature of their atlantic empire. the people who live in the various places where the french have been and would recon center and have to adapt to the new social and economic and legal realities of the post-seven years war french atlantic regimes. ok. we are good. now we are going to have questions. anyone have questions? ok, yeah. >> why would the british of the french martinique back? >> that is a good question. there are a couple of reasons. one is these things are always done not in isolation but as a
1:04 pm
trade for something else. the agreement was if the french got back martinique, the british could get more gains in places like india. martinique means a lot to france but they still have other places like barbados and are able to produce a lot of sugar. what they really want are gains in places like bengal. canada was part of it. britain gets the right to not have any french competition in north america, which was important to them. >> how badly did martinique and senegal affect the french slave trades? >> it did not interrupt it much. there was an interruption for a brief period of the slave trade. senegal was not the largest
1:05 pm
place where the french got their slaves. the slave trade in general was interrupted. anytime you have a massive international war, shipping is going to be interrupted. there are seizures of slave ships. the slave trade does take a serious dip. but it is a short period. martinique is captured in january-february of 1762 and is back in french control by the end of 1763. it is not a major disruption. gore becomes the headquarters of the french slave trade. it is from the 1760's to the
1:06 pm
1790's that is the greatest period of french slave trading. those three decades are the largest. it is a minor disruption, but not overall significant really. >> you said earlier the british were willing to invest heavily in troops in north america whereas the french were not. didn't the french view the war in the french atlantic as an economic war and they had to make certain calculations as to what was important to them and what they were willing to defend? because they were not willing to send thousands of troops to canada to protect their interests there as opposed to the caribbean. >> that is right. first of all, europe became the most important theater for the french. they were interested in gains in
1:07 pm
europe. in terms of the colonies, it was the caribbean they really cared about. if you are going to send a lot of navy to new france, it is going to take away a lot of strength from your ability to defend the caribbean or put efforts and resources into europe itself. there is the famous statement that when one canadian went to the french court asking for additional support for the war in north america he reportedly says, one does not save the stables when the house is on fire. it is probably apocryphal, but it suggests the idea that the center of concern for france was
1:08 pm
not canada. that is partly because it is a money loser for them. they have not ever over the century and a half they have been established there ever made a royal profit. individuals have made profit, but overall it has been a losing venture for france. >> i don't know if you thought about it but if the french had gotten french canada back and lost martinique so they had to focus on canada, a big what if question, what would you say would have happened? >> the french canadians have been asking themselves that question for a long time. you would have a very different
1:09 pm
legal and ethnic makeup in north america. it is hard to say what would have happened. it is clear if the french had only lost martinique and kept cinnamon, they would have been lot of sugar because that economy is growing superfast in the late 18th century. they might have doubled down, which they did anyway, but they might have done it more. they also probably would have gotten into more colonial wars. the likelihood of that is shown by the fact that since the 1680's they have been in more or less 20 awards with the british because they were abutted right against each other. it is hard to answer. they would have had more perhaps. others? we good? all right. thank you. >> you are watching "american history tv." follow us on twitter for information on our schedule, upcoming programs, and to keep the latest history news. >> from 1960 to 1962, the u.s. government aided cuban parents
1:10 pm
in sending their children to the u.s. in order to escape the rise of the castro regime. professor,r and anita casaubon case, discusses operation pedro pan. she explains the different interpretations of the exodus and how the 2000 custody by the map -- custody battle over elian reignited the debate. after her talk several audience members who came to the u.s. as part of the operation took part in the discussion. florida international university hosted this event. [applause] thank you so much. before i begin, i would like to ask if there are any pedro panists in the room. a special thank you for coming. i want to acknowe


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on