In London, Benjamin Franklin could see trouble coming:
“It was thought at the beginning of the session that the American Duty on tea would be taken off. But now the scheme is, to take off as much tax here as will make Tea Cheaper in America than foreigners can supply us; and continue the duty there to keep up the exercise of the right. They have no idea that any people can act from any principle but that of interest; and they believe that 3d. In a pound of tea, of which one does not drink perhaps 10lb in a year is sufficient to overcome the patriotism of America!”
The East India Company had so far in its history survived storms, the Mughal emperors and hostile foreign companies. Further it had as yet survived a scale of corruption and self interest in its officials unheard of in the more than usually self serving world of 18th century commerce. Yet such recklessness could not continue for ever. Clive had returned with such a pile of loot (£234,000) that it offended the good taste of the old and often debt ridden aristocracy. Rapine was the word used by the Whigs and the King longed, for whatever reason be it administrative or monastery, to be able to clamp down on the running of the EIC. Their charter was indeed up for renewal.
In 1770 a massive drought hit Bengal plummeting the region into a state of famine. The monsoon had failed & the resultant hardship reduced the population of the state by almost a quarter. People were apparently selling their children, eating leaves, livestock & indeed each other to survive. The East India Company was blamed for hoarding resources. And indeed even though there is no proof of a deliberate plan of extermination they exacerbated the crisis by doing virtually nothing to aid Bengal’s plight. They were too busy looking at their account books with a concerned eye…
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Military History Now is the other place you will find my guest posts. This site and me go back to 2012 and I’ve always loved the quirky stories that are shared there. I count it a special honour to be able to contribute to MHN, and I hope you like this little piece of myth busting I’ve done there.
This latest post for Britannia Magazine tells about how General Charles O’Hara connects George Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte, and also asks about the veracity of wether he indeed surrendered to Napoleon?
The foundations of the success of the “Great League of Peace and Power” were centred on a unified vision of cooperation and neutrality. From the early days until the mid 18th century the Haudenosaunee, proved adept in using their network of alliances to expand their territory and influence their neighbours.
When the Europeans had grown stronger. It had become obvious to the leaders of the League that they must not allow themselves to get embroiled in matters of no concern to them. Therefore they retained their powerful position and remained aloof while the French and British manoeuvred to gain influence over them.
As long as this status quo continued it seemed as if the Iroquois might survive as a nation, they were still expanding, and European trade was profitable. The “French and Indian War” changed everything. With the two great foreign powers locked in a death struggle for control of America, the Iroquois were inevitably drawn into the conflict. In this war they chose the winning side, mostly because the Mohawks respected William Johnson.
After the war and Pontiac’s failed uprising, the League tried to go back to its former course. However their strong policy of neutrality was gone, and they now had bonds of alliance and obligations to Britain, meaning that if there was another war they would get sucked into it again. Between 1758 and 1770 things went along peacefully for the Haudenosaunee. Men hunted and traded and went on raids, women farmed, oversaw things in the longhouse and had babies, winter turned to spring. Everything seemed normal, even if there was a war, there was no reason to think it would change anything. The British had beaten the French, and no one imagined another war on that scale occurring again. Few could have realised what was to come. Joseph Brant in many ways encapsulates the story of the Iroquois during this time. A legendary figure, still labouring under the stigma of Patriot propaganda, he was central to the Indian story of the American Revolution. For more on the rise of the Iroqouis please read my blogs on the subject by following the links above.
There’s naturally allot of talk about president’s at the moment, and so in honour of his birthday I thought I’d write a little about George Washington, and how even the British ended up agreeing he was possibly one of the greatest men, if not the greatest man of the 18th century, Continue reading →