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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

First expressed by Aranda in July


[Sidenote:

Disputes of England with her American colonies as a factor in Spain's foreign policy.]

In the midst of Spain's preparations for a war against England there loomed up a new factor, the troubles between England and her American colonies. Down to 1774 Spain had proceeded without reference to these disputes, ardently desirous of war whenever France should be ready, although Charles III himself was conservative with regard to a declaration. Until late in the year 1774 France and Spain, together with most Englishmen, believed that the colonial situation was merely a Whig device against the Tories. The first inkling of the seriousness of the situation seems to have come in a report of the French ambassador, in June, 1774, quoting a remark of the British minister, Lord Rochford, that the Boston rioters were descendants of Cromwell's Puritans, implying that they would fight. Both France and Spain welcomed the news, believing that it would keep England engaged until the Bourbon powers could get ready to strike. In December, 1774, Garnier, the French _charg? d'affaires_ in London, had become convinced that the American dispute was the most important event in English history since the revolution of 1688, and he suggested that France should give secret aid to the Americans. In January, 1775, he reported that an army of 9000 men was being sent to the colonies, and sounded a warning lest they make a descent upon the French West Indies, whether in the flush

of victory, or in order to gain a recompense in case of defeat. The Spanish court was informed of this opinion, and in March, 1775, received a similar message from Escarano, the Spanish minister in London, who stated that England had 11,736 soldiers in America (a great force as colonial armies went) and could easily attack Spain's possessions, both because they were near, and because the British had so many transports at hand. He was of the opinion that England could not defeat America with her "three million souls, guided by the enthusiasm of liberty, and accustomed to live in a kind of independence," a people "who had given so many proofs of valor." The danger of a return to power of William Pitt, the imperialist, now Lord Chatham, was also alluded to. Spain at once consulted with France whether it would not be advisable to break with England immediately, but Vergennes was not ready. So the matter was dropped, although a remark attributed to Lord Rochford that the Americans could be won back to allegiance by an English declaration of war against France did not tend to allay the Bourbon feeling of insecurity.

[Sidenote: Disadvantages to Spain of a victory by either the United States or England and effect on Spain's policy.]

At about this time the Spanish authorities began to be impressed by the idea, first expressed by Aranda in July, 1775, that the American outbreak would endanger Spain's colonial empire. According to Aranda an independent America would be a menace, as her population was increasing, and consequently she needed lands, which she would be apt to seek in a region with a temperate climate like New Spain, rather than by expansion northward. Thus the Anglo-Americans might eventually dominate North America, or help Spain's colonies to become independent. On the other hand, if England


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