Skip to main content

tv   American Revolution in the Caribbean  CSPAN  January 18, 2015 2:55pm-3:55pm EST

2:55 pm
, i could accurately predict, look them in the eye and say we can do modeling to say if you take your medicine regularly, it you could live an additional 50 -- 5-0 --years. knowing that you can essentially live a normal lifespan, just a few years less than a normal lifespan, that is huge. >> the director of the national institute of infectious diseases, at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's q&a. >> next, author andrew a shaughnessy discusses the social and economic decisions -- conditions in the british west indies.
2:56 pm
he delves into why these 13 island colonies did not join the 13 american colonies and rebellion. he touches on how the location and sugar business that dominated the caribbean islands ultimately played a decisive factor in the battle of yorktown. hosted by the society of the cincinnati, it is a little under an hour. >> i am pleased to introduce dr. shaughnessy, the founding director of the robert h. smith center at the thomas jefferson foundation which promotes ongoing study of thomas jefferson and his world. in addition he is the professor of history at the university of virginia. he is a dual citizen of britain and the united states. after completing his undergraduate and doctorate degrees at oxford, he headed to eton college before becoming a visiting professor at southern methodist university in dallas and professor of american
2:57 pm
history at the university of wisconsin at our scotch, which is where he was chair of the history department. he is the author of "an empire divided," which is what our topic is tonight and his most recent book is "the men who lost america -- the british leadership and the american revolution and the fate of the american empire." it has received a five national awards including the george washington book prize. he is an editor of the jeffersonian american series of the university of virginia press and a fellow of the royal historical society and we are very pleased to have him with us tonight. [applause] >> well, i'd like to thank alicia tucker for her introduction and also the invitation to speak here at the headquarters of the society of the cincinnati, at the anderson
2:58 pm
house. it is an honor and a pleasure. it plays a very important role in promoting knowledge of the american revolution. they sprouts are talks across the country. they keep here one of the most important libraries of the american revolution, which is a marvelous facility to use. i also believe the american revolution is going to see something of a comeback, as the civil war always remained very popular, but not in fortson -- but not in darts and fits, like the american revolution. the topic i shall be speaking about is about the other colonies. the colonies that did not rebel.
2:59 pm
there were 26 colonies in british america. depending on how you count it is 32, not 13. the majority of the other colonies were in the caribbean. these were places like jamaica antigua, st. kitts grenada dominica barbados. these were the richest and most populist of the colonies, other british colonies in north america. and they were economically extremely important. my favorite example is from the piece of paris that -- the peace
3:00 pm
of paris that concluded the french and indian war. the question arose, should britain keep canada or the island of waterloo -- guadalupe? many in britain felt it was a sellout to keep canada. guadalupe was far more economically beneficial. it was said to be like a piece in god's pocket. initially the british of been much more interested in the caribbean and implanting colonies there than in north america. but this study had a profound impact on me and my understanding of the american
3:01 pm
revolution. firstly, it allowed me to debate the cause of the american revolution by looking at colonies which did not rebel. we will talk a bit about why the islands remained lawyer -- loyal. but it also highlighted to me the importance of the caribbean during the revolutionary war. and the extent to which it helped overstretch british resources. let me begin first by this talk that the british initially had been much more concerned with having a colony in the south and in the caribbean than in north america. indeed, it is worth rem bring that in the 17th century, these islands would be regarded as
3:02 pm
more important by the british than the continental empire. we think of some of those original explorers, settlers like sir francis drake, sir john hawkins -- there may concern -- their main concern was really looking for a base in the caribbean or better still, on the coast of south america. at the end of the 17th century the islands you are looking at which looks like an aerial view but it is actually a contemporary painting, this was the richest place in what was then english america. this is the island of barbados which since the 16 40's had undergone a sugar revolution had become britain's main source for sugar and rum, and during the 17th century, just looking at the landscape and some of the
3:03 pm
build structure you can see just how prosperous this island was. the building we are looking at here is called saint nicholas abbey. it's not religious. it is a plantar's home. this was a stone structure. it was only embellished in the 18th century here. much of it had been built in the 17th century. stone structures were very rare. there were only three in virginia, one of which was [indiscernible] where governor berkley or barkley as the british would call him was based. this is another example of a stone building dating from the 17th century in barbados. it is very much dutch influenced.
3:04 pm
again, and ticket of of the wealth of these islands at the time -- indiciative of the wealth of these cities at this time. this was the wealthiest city in english america. you look today, you see nothing other than what looks like a bay, but this was port royale. very much the wild west of english america, port royal, jamaica, and in 1692 it suffered a tidal wave in which something very much like a tsunami, in which the entire place was buried in most of the population killed. it has underwater one of the most important cataclysmic archaeological sites. you have a moment in time preserved, a unique moment in time.
3:05 pm
you can see skeletons of people running toward the door. and obviously, all of their belongings were preserved. it is the largest collection of pewter we found anywhere in the north american colonies. most people would have been eating off wood at the time. this is the grave of one very fortunate survivor who existed literally in an air bubble for something like 40 minutes during this horrendous episode and lived to tell the story. by the time the american revolution, it was very clear
3:06 pm
that north america was essentially becoming far more important. it was not until the 1720's that imports and exports from north america exceeded those of the british islands. it was a gradual process. it was very apparent to policy makers in london that north america had incredible potential. there were even english writers who were talking about the prospects of the [indiscernible] moving one day and moving to america and america becoming the seat of the british empire. even if we concede the relegation of the islands, they still remained hugely important. they were still the source of the biggest fortunes in the north american colonies.
3:07 pm
what you are looking at here is the governor's palace in spanish town, jamaica. it was the most magnificent of the governor's palaces. the governor was always resident, unlike here in for genia, and he was always someone very -- virginia, and he was always very senior. it was usually a senior army commander. compare it with the governor's palace in williamsburg, which is impressive, and virginia is undoubtedly the main jewel in the british crown in north america, the most populous of the estates, and certainly one of the most prosperous, although the south carolinian planters exceeded them in wealth.
3:08 pm
but again, jamaica's governor's house was much larger, which gives you a sense of the importance that the british it should be did. this was dulled in the 1760's. if you look at spanish town today, it is no longer the capital of jamaica which moved to kingston later on. you can see that this was one of the great colonial capitals. it is like a sort of williamsburg. this would have been where the courts met and where the assembly met. when the british started to try to introduce a more efficient form of government in america and to introduce direct taxes, this affected the islands just
3:09 pm
as much as it affected the north american colonies. the stamp act tax, which is really the first iraq tax -- dir ect tax in 1765, the stamp act tax was going to cost more in the island colonies than in north america. a much smaller proportion of people were going to be paying it. the cost of land, the cost of legal transactions was much greater. the proportion of stem duty was much greater. the stamp i am showing you here -- they were specially designed for the islands because they needed some higher current see stamps -- currency stamps. that tax virtually went unopposed in england.
3:10 pm
they went through large parliamentary majorities. one of the people that did speak out against it was one of the largest absentee planters from jamaica. he later became mayor of london, and he was one of the most vociferous opponents of the tax. at this stage, there were some parallels. the islands spoke the same political language as the mainland's. they could be sympathetic to some of the objections. as war started to become more imminent, the islands essentially had a lobbyist. they hired a man called richard glover who had represented a number of different courses, largely commercial issues. you see in this picture the thespian signs.
3:11 pm
he was fond of music and literature. like many of these figures in the 18th century, he was not a specialist, but he went before the house of commons to essentially make the argument that if there was war it would destroy the economy of the islands and it would be disastrous. i would say at the outset that they had nothing to gain from a war between britain and america. they didn't want it to happen, but there pleas were ignored in parliament. the petition brought by glover was i -- was assigned to the committee of oblivion, and war broke out in essentially the
3:12 pm
islands were forced to take sides. what i'm going to explain briefly is why they didn't support the revolution. in some ways i was less impressed by the fact that a did not support the revolution because it's very difficult for islands to rebel. this area remains the longest part of the british empire anywhere in the world. jamaica did not get its independence or trinidad until the early 1960's. places like the leeward islands were not getting their independence until the late 1970's. there are some small islands like the turks and caicos and came on the islands -- cayman islands still remain in some [indiscernible] or another.
3:13 pm
it was true of the spanish and french islands. cuba was the last part of spanish america to get its independence from spain. it is less impressed by the fact that they did not rebel. what i was really fascinated by was why didn't they even write pamphlets against the stamp act, the townshend duties, against this new trend in british authority to introduce more direct government? they say almost nothing. we know enough that they did not like those policies, but they would later become extremely vociferous and extremely political against the slave trade. why didn't they on this occasion?
3:14 pm
one of the ideas circulating in america, common sense, reached the islands and circulated. there were social connections with america. i feel i must mention here that george washington's only visit abroad was to the islands of barbados. he went there at a time when he hadn't visited many parts of the 13 colonies. he went there with his older half-brother, lawrence washington, who was ill. lawrence washington later died and left george washington [indiscernible] mount vernon was named after a british admiral in the caribbean.
3:15 pm
admiral vernon introduced a tradition of serving rum in the british navy and therefore, even mount vernon had a caribbean connection. benjamin franklin said his nephew, who is something of a black sheep called benjamin makem, he sent him down to the island of antigua. franklin's own apprentice when he was in philadelphia was active in barbados. they had an active renting presses. perhaps the most famous connection is alexander hamilton, who was born on the island. these are just representatives. there was a tremendous traffic in people and mutual knowledge and it was quite likely that many would know the islands more than they knew many of their neighboring states.
3:16 pm
the islands shared with the mainland assemblies. people like jack green have argued that the assemblies were really the key to understanding the american revolution. future statesman were trained. the assemblies in the islands were if anything even more bold in terms of their privileges than the assemblies in the mainland's. what you're seeing here is the mace, which is a symbol in british parliamentary position of political freedom. the mace was originally a weapon carried by bishops. by tradition it would be carried in front of the speaker of the house of commons as a sign that speech was protected. the mace in jamaica was actually larger and heavier than the mace in the house of commons.
3:17 pm
these maces in the islands were made of gold and silver. one of the reasons that they did not support the american course despite sharing the same political language, despite being socially connected with america, despite relying on america for a lot of imports for food, and despite having this tradition of strong independent assemblies, one of the main reasons they didn't support the north american colonies was that the island colonies were economically dependent upon britain. the mainland colonies were out growing the british economy, but in these islands, the british planters were essentially uncompetitive with their french counterparts.
3:18 pm
it cost between 15% and 20% more for them to produce and sell sugar than the neighboring french islands. by the time the american revolution, the french island which today is called haiti was producing more sugar than all the british islands combined. the impact of this was that the british planters in the caribbean relied on the protection of the british markets. they benefited from what we call the trade and navigation acts. they wanted those laws, laws against which north americans were protesting. not only for the sale of their sugar, but another byproduct of sugar sales is run.
3:19 pm
sugar is a very capital-intensive crop and requires a lot of money to grow. britain was really ahead of other european countries in terms of having a good credit system, a good banking system, and also providing protection through its navy for trade, but the other important aspects of this, not only the cost and the size of sugar plantations, the amount of money invested in them , some people refer to them as the earliest factories in the field, and the staves in which the sugar and rum was packed most of these were made in north america. sugar was a labor-intensive crop, much more labor-intensive than tobacco, and much more
3:20 pm
labor-intensive than rice in south carolina. it took four times the number of people to grow sugar as to grow tobacco. the average size of tobacco plantations was quite small. the average labor force on a sugar plantation, the optimum, was regarded as at least 100. someone like william beckford had many hundreds of enslaved people because the labor force was enslaved. this is an image that has always amused me. i showed you the mace earlier on. this is the mace to the islands of grenada. the mace has an illustration on it showing slaves working at a sugar mill.
3:21 pm
it's a lovely juxtaposition of slavery and freedom. the sociologist has argued that essentially the two historically have gone hand-in-hand. the islands, about 90% of their population was black. mostly fairly recent immigrants from africa. mortality rates were exceptionally high. there is wonderful new study by richard dunn in which he is really comparing conditions in north america and the islands. what really is very striking was the horrendous demographic rates
3:22 pm
in the islands, the mortality, and the fact that the slave populations constantly had to be replenished. the result of this was that the whites in these islands were using a phrase that was certainly used in jamaica in the early 19th century. alan taylor has used it on his recent book about virginia and the war of 1812. they were talking about the enemies within. they were fearful of a major slave rebellion. in the north american colonies there were very few actual rebellions throughout the history of slavery. in the islands, a place like jamaica in the second half of the 18th century was having a slave rebellion at least every decade and in the 1760's, it was almost annual.
3:23 pm
these were in some cases rebellions which were planned to be island-wide, and the results of this, the fear of slave rebellions, and on two islands there were still people who were essentially an inter-mixture of the original natives of the caribbean and runaway slaves. they too were regarded as an enemy within. the planters, the whites on these islands were a very small minority. barbados had the highest proportion of whites anywhere. that was still far less than anywhere here in north america. south carolina was perhaps the most comparable of all the british colonies in north america.
3:24 pm
south carolina still had a 50% white population, which is possibly even growing and reversing on the eve of the american revolution. the result is that the british planters wanted troops and wanted the major features you see today throughout these islands. in antigua and jamaica, the planters voluntarily contributed extra funds for the payment of the troops. remember what a big issue quartering troops and supporting troops was in places like new york and boston. the attitude towards the army was very different in these islands. here is another reason. i have mentioned they are economically dependent from britain. another reason still connected
3:25 pm
with the economy was that fear of slave uprising. and still a third and perhaps lesser reason is that the planters were so wealthy that and elite of them were able to go back and live in england. many of them would be educated in england. at least half the assemblyman as being identified as having part of their education in england. a much higher population anywhere other than possibly south carolina. coddrington college on barbados one of the very few schools on the island. there were no universities. codrington college was the most impressive of all of the facilities. it is still a wonderful place to visit.
3:26 pm
yet, codrington college was close down just before the american revolution because it did not have enough pupils. in other words, planters were either bringing shooters from england or sending their children back to england for an education. the planters were so wealthy that some were able to live in england where they had the most affected political lobby -- most effective political lobby of any of the colonies. this is the most outlandish of all the homes. it was built just after the american revolution, just outside of bristol. it is called fontal abbey. it was william beckford's son, the gothic novelist, who built it. west indians were well-known and live in.
3:27 pm
this is a caricature of a west indian who's in the middle temple. and one final reason why the islands might have stayed loyal to britain, although i do not put a lot of stress on this, but the church of england, the anglican church, was essentially the only organized religion on the islands before the american revolution. this changed rapidly afterwards. there were huge numbers of scots on these islands but they were presbyterians. as many complained, there was virtually no organized presbytery, though -- there had been baptists, quakers. the religious origins of these islands is as diversified as north america. but most of the quaker meetings had closed.
3:28 pm
so the church of england was really the only organized religion. and the the church of england, of course, preached authority and obedience. i say that i don't stress this too much because we should remember that washington and jefferson in terms of their own churchgoing were members of what was then the church of england the anglican church was the official church of places like virginia and most places in the south. and many patriots were members of the church of england. but it may have had at least some influence that it was the only organized form of religion. now, i mentioned -- and this is really where i want to start to conclude -- that the war really involved the islands.
3:29 pm
this had a great impact on me. when i was researching for my current book, "the men who lost america," because it was it was a realization of just how important this area was. the british would be sending more troops to the caribbean more naval support in the middle of the war than to north america. the british ministry debated in the middle of the war in 1778 whether to even keep the army in america or pull it out and essentially go to the caribbean and defeat the french. because one thing is very clear -- the french war aims were primarily in the caribbean not in north america.
3:30 pm
which was part of the cause of the frustration with france's role by people like john adams because the resources were not given priority in north america. it was the caribbean. even at the outset of the war, the impact of this war was felt. this is sir william howell. sadly, the only member of british leadership of whom there are no good paintings. you always see this reproduced. commander in chief after bunker
3:31 pm
hill through to 1778, his father had been governor of barbados. he immediately sense for food and troops from the caribbean as he prepared to withdraw from boston and to invade new york. and the problems he had are very revealing. not only was there no food to be had only islands. they were starving. when barbados did send food, the local assembly and many of the residents protested that they would do this when the islands were faced with near salvation -the- n starvation because they were not gettingear food imports from north up america. well he since -- when he sent the trooper north america, while the chicks were on board ship, a slave rebellion broke out prematurely -- while the troops were on board ship, a slave rebellion broke out prematurely. when there was an inquiry conducted into the results
3:32 pm
afterwards, it was the conclusion of the inquiry that the enslav people on the island had discovered that the british intended to move their troops, that this was the best opportunity of any for slave rebellion. it shows really immediately the limitations of britshish and also the problems they had in terms of insufficient manpower. another impact of the war on the islands, with the arrival of american loyalists. we often forget the american revolution was also a civil war. 19,000 americans fought on the british side. this is a painting of one of the most, certainly exotic of all those loyalists. this is a member of the halem family, the first family of theater.
3:33 pm
the condo congress -- the continental congress banned the theater at the beginning of its meetings. and the halem family left to perform and live in jamaica throughout the war. the ban had little impact in the south. people like washington continue to go to the theater. it was largely a northern prejudice. the great impact of the revolutionary war on the islands before the entry of the french before 1778, was the arrival of american privateers. these really have not been sufficiently studied, because some people have likened them to the militia at sea. they were immensely effective. there was a governor on the
3:34 pm
island of grenada who described them as being like gnats. he said they were everywhere. the effect was that it it became unsafe to get on a passenger boat or ship sugar or rum without a naval convoy. as early as 1776, the british had to introduce naval convoys in these islands as well as for all of their other trade. so, again, even before the entry of the french, even before the war became global, the british navy was outstretched, convoying all of these trading vessels. congress sent to martinique an agent called william bingham.
3:35 pm
and his role was to try to cement a war between france and america. what he'd odo is to encourage the privateers. there was even an american coffeehouse on the island in martinique. he would try to create incidents between the french and the bri tish in order to cause the outbreak of a war. he was extremely effective. of course, france did enter the war in 1778. and this changed everything for the british. and possibly one of the most striking stories from the caribbean to me was -- and the example of his affect on the british high command in north america was in 1778 after france had announced it would enter the
3:36 pm
war, the british commander in chief sir henry clinton, his very first orders or to give up philadelphia, which the british had taken a great cost and send 5000 troops to the caribbean to take the small island of st. eustacious. it was important because it overlooks martinique. and the british could shatter the french navy. -- shadow the french navy. this shows a clear realignment in their priorities. clinton complained. he is always presented as a neurotic, but he had much to being erotic about. clinton -- be neurotic about. clinton complained that these were the finest men in the army. in fact, he used a more emotive term. he said, these 5000 troops are the very nerves of the british army in america.
3:37 pm
the army being sent to the caribbean, they would waste away because mortality rates were so high. your expected to lose 1/3 of your troops within two or three years. he was promised -- his 5000 troops would come back. they never did. it was permanent loss. from this moment on, from 1778 the british are sending more troops to the caribbean and more shipping then to north america. they give of philadelphia. -- they give up philadelphia. this is the island of st. lucia, which becomes the base of the british army. the base of the navy was at english harbour antigo. it is an impressive place, like a miniature williamsburg. you can see all of the
3:38 pm
activities. this is the apple's -- the admira'sl's house. the admiral would be able to look out and watch the steering of the ship captains trying to navigate into this harbor. you have the camp stands where the ships would tie up. they would be careened -- which was to turn them upside down and scrape the articles under them. this is where sailors could stay on land. this is where masts were stored on the lower level. and there were dormitories on upper-levelt. it is still perfectly preserve. but the entry of france into this war changed everything for
3:39 pm
the british. part of their motivation in switching to focus on the south was the idea that they would be able to better coordinate their armies between the islands and the caribbean as well as their navy. and this man for many years would be the great fear of the british planters. this is at mustang -- this is a dmiral destang. he is notable for failing to link with washington and inflict a blow upon the british. in the island,s, he took about 7 islands. he joked, i will not leave enough sugar on those islands, for george iii to have in his tea. the islands, would play a critical role in the lead up to yorktown. because of the failure of the admiral there to intercept the fleet on the way to yorktown his obsession with plundering a
3:40 pm
dutch island of st. eustacius, was part of the story of why the british failed it yorktown. thank you very much. [applause] >> any questions? yes? >> what determined whether [inaudible] royal navy ships would be refurbished in halifax, nova scotia, or down in the caribbean? they took them out of the combat zone in new york and boston and philadelphia. did one specialize in one kind of muscle? -- one kind of vessel?
3:41 pm
>> they could refit ships in new york. there was some capacity to do that. on the whole, the capacity was greater in antigua. and in port royal, jamaica, then in places like halifax. to large parts of the year, the ice and weather conditions in canada really precluded ships -- to be repaired. and the facilities were much better in the islands. i think in places like halifax and new york, were used for emergency repairs.
3:42 pm
after the battle of the chesapeake, the admiral took his flle back to new yok. one of the reasons they were not able to turn back to yorktown was the time that the repairs were taking. >> [inaudible] -- invest in trying to get the colonies to join the original 3. >> that is a good question. was there any attempt by the 13 colonies to lobby or engage the island colonies? and the answer is yes. but their major attempt was canada, not the islands. in face, in the articles of confederation, which is essentially the pact and alliance between the states,
3:43 pm
there was a 14th article to canada. it was remarkable that the continental army attempted to invade canada right in the earliest stages of the war, even before the declaration of independence. one of the great errors the continental army made, they assumed they were going to get a lot of support in canada. they saw this as a world struggle. they thought every british colony which share their perspective. and they were surprised not to gain more support. in the islands, the island of jamaica in december, 1774, sent a petition that is a petition in support of the mainland colonies. they knew when they passed this
3:44 pm
petition, they were about to have their trade cut off by the continental congress. so there was an incentive for them to try desperately to hope this war -- hold this war, and try to intervene on behalf of the north americans. and congress to send them a message of thanks as an exchange with connecticut. but what surprises me is that, far less mention of the islands than of canada. despite their greater importance economically. incidentally, after the war, trying to regain their trade with the islands was a dominant fixture in american foreign-policy with britain right through to andrew jackson. as the british essentially while opening up trade with britain, restricted trade between north america and the british west indies.
3:45 pm
they wanted their trade to be conducted in british ships. >> was there some reason why the french were more successful economically in their agricultural endeavors in the islands than the british? >> there has always been debates, but one of the popular explanations is economies of scale. that the french plantations were larger. they were more conveniently situated. they had the same benefit as cub a would have in the 19th century. and the soil was fresher. even though they were planting it for the first time. yes? >> how did the islands -- their trade after they were unable to
3:46 pm
trade with the colonies, americans? >> the war was a disaster for them. because they did get the source of their food from north america. in fact, napoleon -- one of the reasons he wanted to keep the louisiana territory was simply to feed san dominque. once he lost it, there was no point in having that territory. so that was a major loss of foo d supplies. and canada was not able to be an effective substitute. the production was not great enough. the loss of wood and the ability to have their staves made in north america. so, it increase the cost of doing business for them, essentially. eric williams, who later became
3:47 pm
prime minister of trinidad and tobago, argued that it was the beginning of the end for the british planters. and led to the long-term decline. economic historians now date it later. but sadly, the heyday was -- certainly the heyday was gone. it was adjusting to look at the lobbying. they did not need a formal lobby before the american revolution. everything was done quietly on the personal basis. after the american revolution, thereir lobbies become formal. they keep minutes. they put petitions and newspapers. they have to become much more vociferous because they are no longer, there's no longer this mutuality of interest between what they want and what britain wants. yes? >> thank you.
3:48 pm
can you comment on the contribution of general -- [inaudible] george washington to block the chesapeake bay -- british navy from rescuing cornwallis -- [inaudible] [indiscernible] >> carry on. i do have degrasse here. here he is. >> the other general was originally a general that converted himself to become an admiral. he went off to rhode island with his navy. made no impact. then he went to georgia.
3:49 pm
made no impact there. he was later guillotined because of his loyalty to maria internet. -- marie antoinette. >> degrasse is often overlooked. degrasse was the one that put forward the plan for yorktown. he was the one who suggested that he would go to the chesapeake rather than to new york. washington at the time was still planning new york to be -- the mother of all battles. clinton was expecting him to attack in new york. >> of the strategy was to seize yorktown rather than new york city. yes. -- >> yes. -- was the military army
3:50 pm
tactician. but the point about degrasse was he took a huge risk. the british were taken by surprise at the chesapeake capes. they believe they would have a superior navy. and they had had bad intelligence initially about the size of the french fleet. but degrasse made it worse by not sending part of his fleet back to france to convoy the t rade of the french islands. and then not leaving any ships in the caribbean to protect the islands. he instead asks the spanish fleet to protect the french islands. he therefore took his whole fleet up the chesapeake cape. so, the british were outnumbered to an extent they had never expected to be. he exceeded his orders. he stayed longer than he was supposed to because the french priority was to take jamaica with spain.
3:51 pm
and that's what -- where he met his fate, because he then sailed off to yorktown, despite washington's entreaties, he sailed down to the caribbean to meet up with the spanish fleet. he's defeated by admiral sir george rodney in a group of islands called the saints. which was a major defeat of the french navy. and one of the most celebrated victories up until the battle of trafalgar. it certainly change the dynamics of the war. it is a good illustration of the thin line between success and failure. that it was degrasse who defeated the british for the first time since the 1690's. then he himself was defeated much as horatio gates -- was
3:52 pm
himself defeated by cornwallis. and you have won. we can take one last question. >> were the caribbean colo nies the source of financial support to the colonies in rebellion in the north? >> not the british islands. although there were a lot of merchants sending things from british islands to dutch islands. a lot of the military people said that piracy reigns free here. but the french and dutch islands became the critical sources of supply to north america, especially this little dutch island of st. eustacious. there were 500 warehouses there. sometimes as many as 200 american ships off the island.
3:53 pm
bonmarche, who is known as the playwright who wrote "marriage of figaro," set up a front company that would smuggle gunpowder and military goods through the caribbean. so it was the main source of supply. when rodney destroyed all these warehouses and supplies, he thought he had suppressed it. much like the modern drug trade, it sadly shifted elsewhere. whenever the british blocked up one island it would move to another. it was [indiscernible] [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015]
3:54 pm
>> 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter at c-span history for information on our schedule, upcoming programs, and to keep up with the latest history news. >> each week american history tv's reel america radio archival films that help tell the story of the 20th century. >> 250 miles north of saigon the airbase that was ripped by communist guerrillas. from carriers and land bases, 49 jets struck back the red guerrillas were able to slip past guards in the middle of the night raid and lobbed mortar shells into the area.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on