AMERICAN REVOLUTION

Home ] Up ] INTRODUCTION ] BRITISH AND SPANISH ] FRENCH COLONIZATION ] [ AMERICAN REVOLUTION ] ANARCHY ] TERRITORIAL PERIOD ] PIGGOTT ] EARLY SETTLEMENT ] ECONOMIC GROWTH ] SETTLEMENT GROWTH ] STEAMBOAT ERA ] RIVER CONTROL ] EARLY RAILROADS ] CIVIL WAR EVE ] CIVIL WAR ] EADS BRIDGE ] DEVELOPMENT ] RR EXPANSION ] HIGH GRADE ] RRs & CAHOKIA CR. ] EAST SIDE LEVEE ] THE STOCKYARDS ] INDUSTRIALIZATION ] CITY EXPANSION ] GOLDEN ERA ] DEMOGRAPHICS ]

 

 

 

THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

 

On the eve of the Revolutionary War, the British began a series of reforms that would have restored a sense of autonomy to the French inhabitants. In 1774, Parliament passed the Quebec Act that provided for the reinstatement of French civil code and Catholic religion to the interior, with Lieutenant Governors in charge of districts at Detroit, Vincennes, and Kaskaskia. However, the Boston Tea Party and the Declaration of Independence coincided closely with the Quebec Act, and the War of Independence broke out before the new British reforms were tested (Howard 1972:47).

At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, the western region of British North America was under the control of Henry Hamilton and Indian allies based in Detroit. From this base the British forces raided the settlers in Kentucky, hoping to quickly neutralize the threat west of the Alleghenies and contain the war in the seaboard colonies. By 1776, Hamilton had succeeded in containing the remaining partisan Kentuckians in three stockades and turned his attention to the French settlements in the Mississippi region (Howard 1972:50).

Sensing the impending threat, George Rogers Clark obtained aid from Williamsburg, and in 1778 captured Kaskaskia and Vincennes and rallied French support in the American Bottoms. That same year, the Commonwealth of Virginia created the county of Illinois that extended from the Ohio River to the Mississippi River, in order to more effectively protect and govern the area. Hamilton recaptured Vincennes, but in 1779 Clark recaptured the town and took Hamilton prisoner. However, Indian raids sponsored by the British continued to harry the defenders of Illinois County throughout the war (Howard 1972:50-56).

The new county under Virginia law retained French code and stipulated that religion and customs of the inhabitants should be respected. Clark was commander of the American troops and Colonel John Todd was made county lieutenant, a sort of civil officer and commander of the military. Captain Richard McCarty of Post St. Ursule was commander of the troops at Cahokia (Boggess 1908:15-19).

However, with the Revolution going badly in the northern colonies and the treasury being depleted to support General Washington's troops, the county of Illinois and its partisan army were left to their own devices. There was great difficulty in supplying and feeding the troops. The fall of 1799 saw American troops and French civilians starving and at odds. With Virginia money worthless and credit overextended, the troops were forced to take cattle, flour, wood, and other necessities from the French without payment. Richard McCarty noted "in short, we are become the hated beasts of a whole people by pressing horses, boats, etc., killing cattle, etc., for which no valuable consideration is given; even many not a certificate which is here looked upon as next to nothing" (Boggess 1908:19-29). In 1781, a letter written to the governor of Virginia, signed by the French inhabitants of Vincennes and representing the views of the American Bottoms French, declared that the French had decided to receive no troops except those sent by the king of France and that Indians friendly to the French would regard the coming of Virginia troops as a hostile act (Boggess 1908:30).

In 1780, a combined British and Indian attack on St. Louis and Cahokia was repulsed by the Americans and inhabitants of St. Louis. This victory was followed up by two French and Indian raids on Detroit in 1780 and a Spanish-led expedition against the Detroit base in 1781. Finally, in 1783, a peace was attained with the second Treaty of Paris. Britian ceded all land east of the Mississippi River to the United States (Howard 1972:56-61).

 

Previous                                                                                 Next

 

top.gif (906 bytes)