On This Day
1740 – A combined force of Spanish, free blacks and allied Indians defeat a British garrison at the Siege of Fort Mose near St. Augustine during the War of Jenkins’ Ear.
The War of Jenkins’ Ear (known as Guerra del Asiento in Spain) was a conflict between Britain and Spain lasting from 1739 to 1748, mainly in New Granada and among the West Indies of the Caribbean Sea, with major operations largely ended by 1742. Its name, coined by British historian Thomas Carlyle in 1858, refers to Robert Jenkins, a captain of a British merchant ship, who suffered having his ear severed when Spanish sailors boarded his ship at a time of peace. There is no evidence that supports the stories that the severed ear was exhibited before the British Parliament.
The seeds of conflict began with the injury to Jenkins following the boarding of his vessel by Spanish coast guards in 1731, eight years before the war began. Popular response to the incident was tepid until several years later, when opposition politicians and the British South Sea Company played it up, hoping to spur outrage against Spain, believing that a victorious war would improve Britain’s trading opportunities in the Caribbean. In addition, the British wanted to keep pressure on Spain to honour their lucrative asiento contract, which gave British slave traders permission to sell slaves in Spanish America. The Spanish refer to this asiento in their name for this war.
British attacks on Spanish possessions in Central America resulted in high casualties, primarily from disease. After 1742, the war was subsumed by the wider War of the Austrian Succession, which involved most of the powers of Europe. Peace arrived with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748.
Born On This Day
1699 – Marie Thérèse Rodet Geoffrin, French businesswoman (d. 1777)
Marie Thérèse Rodet Geoffrin (26 June 1699 – 6 October 1777) was a French salon holder who has been referred to as one of the leading female figures in the French Enlightenment. From 1750–1777, Madame Geoffrin played host to many of the most influential Philosophes and Encyclopédistes of her time. Her association with several prominent dignitaries and public figures from across Europe has earned Madame Geoffrin international recognition. Her patronage and dedication to both the philosophical men of letters and talented artists that frequented her house is emblematic of her role as guide and protector. In her salon on the Rue Saint-Honoré, Madame Geoffrin demonstrated qualities of politeness and civility that helped stimulate and regulate intellectual discussion. Her actions as a Parisian salonnière exemplify many of the most important characteristics of Enlightenment sociability.
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