June 24, 2013

Plus ça change...

From A.T. Mahan's The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783, 5th edition of 1894:

Again, in 1770, a dispute arose between England and Spain relative to the possession of the Falkland islands. It is not material to state the nature of either claim to what was then but a collection of barren islands, destitute of military as well as of natural advantages. Both England and Spain had had a settlement, on which the national colors were flying; and at the English station a captain in the navy commanded. Before this settlement, called Port Egmont, there suddenly appeared, in June, 1770, a Spanish expedition, fitted out in Buenos Ayres, of five frigates and sixteen hundred soldiers. To such a force the handful of Englishmen could make no serious resistance; so after a few shots, exchanged for the honor of the flag, they capitulated. 
The news of this transaction, which reached England in the following October, showed by its reception how much more serious is an insult than an injury, and how much more bitterly resented. The transfer of Corsica had scarcely occasioned a stir outside the offices of statesmen; the attack on Port Egmont roused the people and Parliament. The minister to Madrid was ordered to demand the immediate restoration of the islands, with a disavowal of the action of the officer who had ordered the attack. Without waiting for a reply, ships were ordered into commission, press-gangs swept the streets, and in a short time a powerful fleet was ready at Spithead to revenge the insult. Spain, relying upon the Bourbon family compact and the support of France, was disposed to stand firm; but the old king, Louis XV., was averse to war, and Choiseul, among whose enemies at court was the last mistress, was dismissed [Pompador dug him, though]. With his fall disappeared the hopes of Spain, which at once complied with the demands of England, reserving, however, the question as to the rights of sovereignty. 


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