What A Secret Treaty Wrought

It funny how Rulers removed from the situation on the ground, so often come up with “brilliant solutions” that then play out for years to come. No- this isn’t about the Asia Minor Agreement of 1916 AKA Sykes-Picot. Though that is another fine example that we are currently living with.

This secret treaty would ultimately result in the first large scale rebellion on the North American continent. The Treaty of Fountainebleau was inked in 1762 by the hands of Duke de Choiseul on behalf of King Louis XV of France and Marquis de Grimaldi for King Charles III of Spain. With a stroke of the pen the inhabitants of roughly a third of the Lower 48 was quitclaimed between regents like so many poker chips. It would be almost two years before the Europeans colonists in the Mississippi Valley knew what happened.

I missed this as a sestercentennial post earlier this month. On March 5th, 1766, Governor Antonio de Ulloa arrived in New Orleans to officially take possession of the former French colonists. He was given a Twelve Point Plan by King Charles III before he left. In addition to swapping the allegiances of the colonists, King Louis XV also gave the Spanish the means co-opt the French soldiers left behind. The Governor would only bring 75 soldiers with him. What could possibly go wrong? Both regents were very confident that those in Louisiana would be content with swapping one Catholic master for another.

There was a book written in 1976 on this rebellion. A Book Review is available. I’ll have to see if I can find a used copy on Amazon. The secret treaty helped to keep the colony out of the hands of Great Britain when French possessions were divided at the end of the Seven Years War. Specifically:

Great Britain officially conceded Spanish ownership of Louisiana in February 1763 in one of the series of treaties ending the French and Indian War. This gesture was a mere formality, for the territory had been in Spanish hands for almost three months.

In typical aristocratic fashion, the new governor would choose not to wield control over the colonials from the seat of government in New Orleans, but rather stay in his manor downriver in La Balize. Since Spanish power in the Americas was focused in Havana, perhaps he felt more secure being on the coast.

The next 24 months would increase the simmering resentment among the locals. Periodic post will be made on these anniversary events as well. In the meantime, take a look at this short summary of the events about to unfold.

By January 1765, the shock had now worn off, and the people of Louisiana felt angry and fearful. They had been abandoned by France, and now their freedoms and sources of wealth could be terminated by the Spanish. Some people conducted mass meetings demanding that France continue their control of Louisiana. The situation was becoming more explosive when, on 4 February 1765, Governor d’Abbadie died of a sudden illness.


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