Monday, February 3, 2014

Taking of Saint Eustatius

The British Take Sait. Eustatius, February 3rd, 1781.
Dear Reader,

Today we are going to look at the taking of Caribbean island of Saint Eustatius, by British forces, on February 3rd, 1781. This is part of the global war which surrounded the American War of Independence.
This tiny Caribbean island, which was under nominal Dutch control, was the first power to recognize the independence of the United States.

When a visiting American ship, the Andrew Doria, fired a salute, Dutch commander Johannes de Graaff returned the salute from the cannons of Fort Oranje. This historic salute occurred on the 16th of November, 1776.  This was the first time a European commander recognized the independence of the American colonies. Master historian Barbra Tuchman mentions this event in her book, The First Salute: A View of the American Revolution. 

Johannes de Graaff

In addition to recognition, St. Eustatius also provided the American colonies with Dutch money and weapons. This was one of the major reasons for the Fourth Anglo-Dutch war, part of the global war surrounding the American War of Independence. The anniversary we are remembering today is part of that Anglo-Dutch War. On February 3rd, 1781, an massive English fleet attacked St. Eustatius, and Commander de Graaff surrendered the island and his fortress after a token resistance. St. Eustatius was also home to a Jewish community, which the British, under Admiral George Rodney, forced to leave the colony.

The British did not take St. Eustatius for long, and the French recovered the island, and returned it to its Dutch masters by 1784.

Thanks for Reading,

Alex Burns

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