War Background, 1793-1794

1) Declaration of War by France, Feb 1, 1793

a) did not unite British

i) radicals and reformers criticized gov’t

ii) alliance w/ absolutist monarchs

iii) England seen as home of revolutionary principles—therefore how could England now ally itself with "despots"?

b) pro gov’t side

i) way of life threatened

ii) John Bowles: "for instead of admitting the necessity of any national difference, of any actual aggression of injury, as a motive for war, she assumes the hitherto unheard of right of invading and subduing other countries, for the avowed purpose of interfering in their government, and without existing cause of quarrel or dissention" (19)

2) Paranoia

a) special tax for families with French servants

b) loyalty oath should be required for all teachers (foreign and native)

c) enforce Alien Act (passed earlier in the year (8 Jan 1793)

i) ship’s masters required to provide lists of all foreigners

ii) foreigners had to register at customs house and give up any arms and be issued a passport

iii) Home Sec’y given power to deport "undesirable" aliens

3) Pitt’s initial strategy

a) same as his father’s in the Seven Year War

i) subsidize major European land powers to keep armies in the field against France

ii) use Navy to sweep French ships from sea

iii) use Navy to seize profitable French colonies

b) poor results

i) ₤8,000 in 1793 with half going to Hanover; ₤2,550,000 in 1794 with half going to Prussia and about a fifth going to Hanover

ii) Several French West Indian islands were seized but at enormous cost

iii) troops diverted from colonial seizures by needs in Europe

iv) troops needed for home front because of invasion fears

4) Opposition in Britain

a) Whigs divided in response

i) Foxites favored immediate peace negotiations

(1) Charles James Fox questions gov’t’s strategy—what were the war aims?

ii) followers of Duke of Portland, while critical of gov’t conduct of war, supported the idea of defeating the French

(1) Portland Whigs persuaded to enter Pitt’s gov’t as part of coalition (July 1794)

(2) prominence of Portland Whigs indicates how important coalition was to Pitt

b) gov’t moves against popular societies

i) spies placed in LCS

ii) Habeas Corpus suspended (May 1794)

iii) arrests of societies’ leaders

c) actual conspiracies?

i) former government spy arrested following plotting in Scotland (1794)

ii) a few pikes discovered in Sheffield

iii) armed body within the LCS?

iv) Thomas Hardy, Rev. John Horne Tooke and John Thelwall tried and acquitted (three separate times)

5) Popular Reaction?

a) Middle-class probably fearful, especially after fall of Girondins and rise of Jacobins and also French policy of granting no quarter to enemy soldiers (probably never actually put into practice)

b) Popular prejudices fueled by rumors of bad behavior

c) Mass celebrations followed Valenciennes (July 1793) and the naval success of the June 1794 (those in London in June 1794 were long and violent

d) Mass demonstrations followed only two months later against "crimps"—those who forcibly recruited men for the army

i) other demonstrations against "conscription" included driving of press-gang from Whitby (Feb 1793), destruction of Naval Recruiting Office in Liverpool (Oct 1793)

6) French response

a) levee en masse—mobilizes the entire nation

b) threat of invasion

7) Industry and Labor in Britain

a) Trade with France dries up
1790 ₤545,284 ~₤50 mil
1791 ₤576,632
1792 ₤743,280
1793 ₤66,677
1794 ₤2,680
1795 0

i) Layoffs in textile industries

(1) silk industry so bad that private subscriptions for relief circulated in 1793

ii) Merchants and manufacturers petitioned the king for peace

iii) lower orders tried for sedition because of comments like a French invasion posed "no harm to . . . any of the middling sort of people. We are as much imposed upon as they were in France" (31).

b) Some industries prosper

i) wool (uniforms)

ii) copper (warship sheathing as well as brass ornamentation)

iii) gunmakers—all private; loath to work on gov’t contracts though because the work required very fine work and the gov’t was often very slow to pay

8) Manpower and Administration

a) short of armed forces

b) bounties offered to sailors

i) press-gangs employed after 1793

(1) dock workers exempt

(2) land-based gangs paid by the head

(3) ship-based gangs looking for new "recruits"

ii) accidental killing of merchant captain by press-gang leads to rioting by 400-500 carpenters and seamen (protesting abuses by press gangs) who burned the Liverpool recruiting offices (Oct 1793)

c) Army recruiting chaotic

i) Three "armies"—the regular army, the militiamen (mostly home front though later many drafted into overseas service), and volunteers

ii) regiments raised by individuals—find 100 recruits and get a commission

iii) some employed "crimps" to trick men into service (lots of drink for example)

iv) soldiers had to be fed, housed, etc. (not done by gov’t)—billets were found in local inns, and though paid the pay was often not enough and late in coming

d) Departure of married men drove up poor rate in many parishes

Crisis Upon Crisis, 1795-1797

1) Two Petitions seek peace (Jan 1795)

a) any unanimity mostly dissipated

b) Pitt’s short war looking increasingly long

c) concern about economy and national debt

2) Food shortages

a) Food riots

i) March 1795, Canterbury; April Portsmouth, Chichester, Plymouth, Seaford, Newhaven

ii) participated in by soldiers/sailors

iii) gov’t increases per diem of military to account for rise in food prices

b) Anxiety

i) charges of profiteering, artificial shortages

ii) smuggling grain to France

iii) Jacobins (British) hoarding grain to starve the nation

c) Laws to protect food

i) no wheat for distilling or starch

ii) an excise placed on hair powder

iii) gov’t intervenes in corn trade (until May 1796)

d) Results

i) Gov’t begins collecting statistics on agriculture

(1) Eventually this leads to 1801 census

ii) Sir Frederick Eden’s The State of the Poor

iii) Malthus’ Principle of Population

iv) Samuel Whitbread introduced minimum wage

v) Spleenhamland system (May 1795)

3) Resistance to war

a) economics

i) prices, shortages blamed on war

ii) loss of work, profit, market blamed on war

b) popular societies revive

i) LCS assumes leadership

ii) open air meetings in London, St. George’s Fields 29 June 1795

iii) second meeting on 26 October in Islington

(1) three days later, the King’s carriage was mobbed by crowds demanding bread and an end to the war—something broke a window in the carriage

c) Pitt’s response

i) Treasonable Practices Act—makes it a crime to incite people to hatred of the king or of the gov’t

ii) Seditious Meetings Act—no assembly of greater than 50 people without approval of local magistrate

iii) Initial outcry against repressive measure turns to silence

4) Taxes

a) Loans

i) much of initial phase of war financed with loans—with interest payments taking up larger proportion of budget

b) 1795 Taxes

i) wines and spirits

ii) tea

iii) wood imports

iv) life insurance

v) cargo insurance

vi) hair powder (at one guinea a year it killed powdered wigs)

c) 1796 Taxes

i) tobacco

ii) horses kept for pleasure

iii) printed calico

iv) sugar

v) salt

vi) property—an estate tax

d) 1797 Taxes

i) spirits

ii) tea

iii) sugar

iv) house tax

e) 1799 Income Tax

5) Military Forces

a) Between 1793 and 1796, 40,000 soldiers discharged as unfit and another 40,000 died (principally disease). (The bulk, 25,000 soldiers and 10 seamen died in the West Indies)

b) Recruitment

i) Quota Act (Mar 1795)—each county given a specific number of men to raise for service (such as 609 for West Riding or 23 for Rutland)

ii) within days extended to seaports and Scotland

iii) Home defense also augmented

6) Britain sends envoys to negotiate peace

a) Lord Malmesbury dispatched to Paris

b) French refuse to negotiate

c) Malmesbury and staff ordered to leave Paris (19 Dec 1796)

7) Invasion

a) Dec 1796: General Hoche with invasion force of 15,000 sails for Ireland; storms force him back to Brest

b) Feb 1797: Small invasion force under Colonel William Tate land on Pembrokeshire coast

i) attempt to attract Welsh to rebellion

ii) entire "legion noire" surrenders within three days

iii) entire nation mobilized for invasion

(1) WW and STC in Alfoxden—gov’t spies sent to watch them after neighbors report them discussing someone named "spy Nosa"

c) Financial effects

i) Ireland requests loan to defend against French invasion

ii) B of E cash on hand too low to make loan

iii) run on country banks as people want cash

iv) gov’t issues B of E notes instead of cash (i.e. gold); force country banks to do same

v) Pitt criticized for his subsidies to foreign powers (seen as bankrupting the nation)

8) Mutiny

a) crew of fleet at Spithead mutiny over (April 1797)

i) higher wages

ii) better provisions

iii) improved medical service

iv) shore leave

v) removal of unpopular officers

b) gov’t forced to accept demands

c) crews of fleet at Nore also mutiny

i) concerned that concessions won at Spithead wouldn’t apply to them

ii) turns violent

iii) troops on shore vow to protect capital

iv) mutineers block port

v) leaders (28 sailors) caught and executed

vi) gov’t believes Jacobin involvement—investigation finds none

d) Efforts made to subvert army and navy

i) handbills circulated

ii) "seditious" ballads appeared (writers and publishers tried and imprisoned)

9) Tough times

a) Peace negotiations break down

b) Pitt speaks to Commons: "but against the very essence of your liberty, against the foundation of your independence, against the citadel of your happiness, against your constitution itself, that their hostilities are directed"

c) Due to public’s interest in war and taxes, Opposition to Pitt, interested in reform, secedes from Parliament (for next three years, no real opposition in Parliament)