Fourth Anglo-Dutch War

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The Fourth Anglo–Dutch War (1780–1784) was a conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Dutch Republic. The war, tangentially related to the American Revolutionary War, broke out over British and Dutch disagreements on the legality and conduct of Dutch trade with Britain's enemies in that war.

Although the Dutch Republic did not enter into a formal alliance with the United States and their allies, U.S. ambassador (and future President) John Adams managed to establish diplomatic relations with the Dutch Republic, making it the second European country to diplomatically recognize the Continental Congress in April, 1782. In October, 1782, a treaty of amity and commerce was concluded as well.

Most of the war consisted of a series of largely successful British operations against Dutch colonial economic interests, although British and Dutch naval forces also met once off the Dutch coast. The war ended disastrously for the Dutch and exposed the weakness of the political and economic foundations of the country.[2]

Contents

Background

Although Great Britain and the Dutch Republic had been allies since the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the Dutch had become very much the junior partner in the alliance, and had slowly lost their erstwhile dominance of world trade to the British. During the Second Stadtholderless Period the Dutch Republic had more or less abdicated its pretenses as a major power and this became painfully evident to the rest of Europe during the War of the Austrian Succession. Near the end of that war in 1747 an Orangist revolution restored the stadtholderate with vastly increased powers for the stadtholder (the stadtholderate became hereditary). However, this did not lead to a resurgence of the Republic as a major power because of what many in the Republic saw as the mismanagement of the stadtholderian regency during the minority of stadtholder William V, and subsequently during his own reign. Instead, the Republic remained stubbornly neutral during the Seven Years' War which enabled it to greatly neglect both its army and navy. The stadtholderian regime was pro-British (the stadtholder being a grandson of king George I of Great Britain), but his opponents for this reason favored France, and those opponents were strong enough in the States-General of the Netherlands (the governing body of the Republic whose "first servant" the stadtholder was) to keep Dutch foreign policy neutral.[3]

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