THE colonies were, as before and afterwards, disunited; they hated to hand local forces over to joint control, and they nearly broke the heart of Washington, the very able Virginian who was already known as the best soldier in America. There were, too, many neutrals and some active loyalists, especially in the South, and the well-to-do colonists were not willing to serve in the ranks. Washington's whole force was at one time down to one man per thousand of the colonial population.
But the colonists were too numerous to be held down except by a very large force, and England's population was barely three times theirs-England, too, was six weeks away; the country was favourable to the colonial style of warfare (consisting largely of " sniping "), and there was no enthusiasm in England for the conflict; the Whigs were actively against it, from mixed motives; lastly, the British Government and forces were, on the whole, in the least competent hands that ever guided them.
What turned the scale was that England's enemies fell on her as soon as it was seen-at Saratoga in 1777-that the colonists could hold their own. Cornwallis carried on a campaign successfully in the southern and more loyal colonies. But France, Spain, and Holland came into the war against her, the Baltic powers formed an Armed Neutrality, and England lost control of the sea. Suffren, the great French admiral, kept Warren Hastings cut off in India, though Hastings and Coote were fully a match for the French there. Gibraltar was besieged for three years, and French control of the West Indian waters compelled Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown in 1781. Rodney's great naval victory off The Saints (Dominique) in 1782 enabled England to make peace in 1783 with the loss of very little except the American colonies and the territory west of the Alleghanies. It was the lowest point in international credit to which Britain had fallen since Charles I.'s reign, but at any rate the French Canadians had remained loyal and had repulsed American invasions.
The war bankrupted France and Holland, and six years later the French Government had to call its creditors together in the famous States General of 1789. It had sent troops to America, including volunteers from the French nobility, who were impressed by the prosperity and equality of the American farmers, as contrasted with the state of the peasants in France. It seemed to them like the Golden Age of which Rousseau wrote, before kings and priests had corrupted man's natural happiness. The American Revolution was the link between the rebellion against Charles I. and the French Revolution; it was very widely copied in Europe and America during the next fifty years. :