Part II: An Armed Truce
"The king had many 'secrets' spread a crossed the globe."
Louis the Beloved
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Siege of Fort Detroit[vii]
Even though France had lost the Ohio Territory and had to inform the Amerindians there it could not provide protection for them anymore, it did not lose contact with those Amerindians. Louis XV would send an agent of the Secret du Roi[a]
(French secret service) to continue dialogue with the Amerindians, especially Pontiac and Cornplanter in hopes that they would continue to raid the British colonies. As the French could no longer promise protection many of the Amerindians stopped supporting the raids. Those who did continue did mostly out of animosity towards the British, which there was no shortage of due to Maj. Gen. Amherst’s policies.
Pontiac’s raiders were more disorganized than during the Seven Years’ War. As these raids often target more civilian targets, men swarmed to the British colonial militias, and new groups form with the exclusive goal of terrorizing and enacting vigilantism upon the Amerindians regardless of their affiliation. To make matters in the British North American colonies worse, the colonials knew the French were supplying Pontiac and his war bands but there was never enough contemporary evidence. The colonists continued to request more troops to protect from a French invasion. A request the British ignored in the short term as they knew the French could not afford another war so soon. This, of course, led many colonials to distrust the government in Britain. Some even went as far as to blame the British government for ended the war too early and not conquering all French America.
Amerindian raids were not the only source of unrest in the British colonies. The war cost the Kingdom of Great Britain a great deal of financial strain. To help pay for the war debt the British Parliament agreed to levy taxes on certain goods in the North American colonies. The colonies, who had long been left alone in these matters, were incensed, and claim that their rights have been violated. To reduce Amerindian raids George III issued a proclamation restricting the settlement of British colonists beyond the Appalachian Mountains. The proclamation did work. With less incursions on their land by British colonists many Amerindians felt they had no longer need to attack. The colonists, however, were not happy. Many felt that expanding to Mississippi River was their right.
North America was not the only area that the French supported proxy conflicts against the British. Support of the Mughal Empire continued as another agent of the Secret du Roi was sent to India, but with much less success. France was not the only nation to try proxy conflicts. Britain attempted to incite revolts in French America. However, British attempts mostly failed. Some historians blame this on the natives having more autonomy in French controlled territory and so had less reason to revolt. More likely though is, the British treated the natives more subservient to the British “vassals” while the French at least pretended to treated them as allies when in negotiations.
While New France had been severely weakened by the war, it still held two important trade commodities. The fur trade continued much as it did before the war. While the loss of the Ohio Valley did limit the area in which French fur trappers could operate there was still plenty of furs left to gather in the Louisiana Territory. The other major commodity was cod. The area around Newfoundland was rich in cod fishing, and while France lost its territorial holdings on the island it still maintained fishing rights from Cape Bonavista to Point Riche, known as the French Shore.
French fishermen, especially Bretons, would set up temporary fishing settlements on the mainland in New France. The island of St. Pierre and Miquelon were closer but they were too small to support the often-competitive settlements and already inhabited. Overtime these fishing settlements grew and began to host year-round populations becoming permanent villages. While the cod did sell well in European markets the destination for most of the catch was the French Caribbean where it was used to fuel the sugar plantations there.
Louis XV died in AD 1774, his son Louis XVI took the throne of France. Some thought that Louis XVI would restore the parliaments to gain public favor. However, this never happened. While he expressed his desire to do so early in his reign it seems as though the many the problems in New France distracted his attention.
a. fra: King's Secret
b. Regional judicial bodies in France
4. ATL vocabulary: “Armed Truce” (plural: armed truces) noun. cold war