A School History of the United States eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 507 pages of information about A School History of the United States.

But these bounds were not secured without a diplomatic struggle.  As soon as France joined us in 1778, she began to persuade Spain to follow her example.  Very little persuasion was needed, for the opportunity to regain the two Floridas (which Spain had been forced to give to England in 1763) was too good to be lost.  In June, 1779, therefore, Spain declared war on England, and sent the governor of Lower Louisiana into West Florida, where he captured Pensacola, Mobile, Baton Rouge, and Natchez.  Made bold by this success, Spain, which cared nothing for the United States, next determined to conquer the region north of Florida and east of the Mississippi, the Indian country of the proclamation of 1763. (See map of The British Colonies in 1764.) The commandant at St. Louis[2] was, therefore, sent to seize the post at St. Joseph on Lake Michigan, built by La Salle in 1679.  He succeeded, and taking possession of the country in the name of Spain, carried off the English flags as evidence of conquest.  Now when the time came to make the treaty of peace, Spain insisted that she must have East and West Florida and the country west of the Alleghany Mountains, because she had conquered it.  France partly supported Spain in this demand.  The country north of the Ohio she proposed should be given to Great Britain, and the country south to Spain and the United States.

[Footnote 2:  It will be remembered that Spain now held Louisiana, or the country west of the Mississippi. (See Chapter VIII.)]


The American commissioners, seeing in all this a desire to bound the United States on the west by the Alleghany Mountains, made the treaty with Great Britain secretly, and secured the Mississippi as our western limit.

Spain at the same time secured the Floridas from Great Britain, and insisting that West Florida must have the old boundary given in 1764,[1] and not 31 deg. as provided in our treaty of peace, she seized and held the country by force of arms; and for twelve years the Spanish flag waved over Baton Rouge and Natchez.[2]

[Footnote 1:  See Chapter X.]

[Footnote 2:  Read Hinsdale’s Old Northwest, pp. 170-191; McMaster’s With the Fathers, pp. 280-292.]

The area of the territory thus acquired by the United States was 827,844 square miles, and the population not far from 3,250,000.  Apparently an era of great prosperity and happiness was before the people.  But unhappily the government they had established in time of war was quite unfit to unite them and bring them prosperity in time of peace.

[Illustration:  Washington’s sword]


1.  In accordance with one of the Intolerable Acts, General Gage became governor of Massachusetts in 1774.

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A School History of the United States from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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