1756 - Great Britain declaration of war to France

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Great Britain declared war to France on May 17 1756. The following is a reproduction of the original text printed by Thomas Baskett, printer of the King, in 1756.


His Majesty's
of War against the French King.

George R.

The unwarrantable Proceedings of the French in the West Indies, and North America, since the Conclusion of the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, and the Usurpations and Encroachments made by them upon Our Territories, and the Settlements of Our Subjects in those Parts, Particularly in Our Province of Nova Scotia, have been so notorious, and so frequent, that they cannot but be looked upon as a sufficient Evidence of a formed Design and Resolution in that Court, to pursue invariable such Measures, as should most effectually promote their ambitious Views, without any Regard to the most solemn Treaties and Engagements. We have not been wanting on Our Part, to make, from time to time, the most serious Representations to the French King, upon these repeated Acts of Violence, and to endeavour to obtain Redress and Satisfaction for the Injuries done to Our Subjects, and to prevent the like Causes of Complaint for the future : But though frequent Assurances have been given, that every thing should be settled agreeable to the Treaties subsisting between the Two Crowns, and particularly, that the Evacuation of the Four Neutral Islands in the West Indies, should be effected (which was expressly promised to Our Ambassador in France) the Execution of these Assurances, and of the Treaties on which they were founded, has been evaded under the most frivolous Pretences ; and the unjustifiable Practices of the French Governors, and of the Officers acting under their Authority, were still carried on, till, at length, in the Month of April, One thousand seven hundred and fifty four, they broke out in open Acts of Hostility, when, in Time of profound Peace, without any Declaration of War, and without any previous Notice given, or Application made, a Body of French Troops, under the Command of an Officer bearing the French King's Commission, attacked in a hostile Manner, and possessed themselves of the English Fort on the Ohio in North America.

But notwithstanding this Act of Hostility, which could not but be looked upon as a Commencement of War, yet, from Our earnest Desire of Peace, and in Hopes the Court of France would disavow this Violence and Injustice, We contented Ourselves with fending such a Force to America, as was indispensably necessary for the immediate Defence and Protection of Our Subjects against fresh Attacks and Insults.

In the mean Time great Naval Armaments were preparing in the Ports of France, and a considerable Body of French Troops embarked for North America; and though the French Ambassador was sent back to England with specious Professions of a Desire to accommodate these Differences, yet it appeared, that their real Design was only to gain Time for the Passage of those Troops to America, which they hoped would secure the Superiority of the French Forces in those Parts, and enable them to carry their ambitious and oppressive Projects into Execution.

In these Circumstances We could not but think it incumbent upon Us, to endeavour to prevent the Success of so dangerous a Design, and to oppose the Landing of the French Troops in America ; and, in Consequence of the just and necessary Measures We had taken for that Purpose, the French Ambassador was immediately recalled from Our Court; The Fortifications at Dunkirk, which had been repairing for some Time, were enlarged; great Bodies of Troops marched down to the Coast; and Our Kingdoms were threatened with an Invasion.

In order to prevent the Execution of these Designs, and to provide for the Security of Our Kingdoms, which were thus threatened, We could no longer forbear giving Orders for the seizing at Sea the Ships of the French King, and his Subjects. Notwithstandingwhich, as We were still unwilling to give up all Hopes that an AAccommodation might be effected, We have contented Ourselves hitherto with detaining the said Ships, and preserving them, and (as far as was possible) their Cargoes intire, without proceeding to the Confiscation of them ; but it being now evident, by the hostile Invasion actually made by the French King of Our Island of Minorca, that it is the determined Resolution of that Court to hearken to no Terms of Peace, but to carry on the War, which has been long begun on their Part, with the utmost Violence, We can no longer remain, consistently with what We owe to Our own Honour, and to the Welfare of Our Subjects, within those Bounds, which, from a Desire of Peace, We had hitherto observed.

We have therefore thought proper to declare War ; and We do hereby Declare War against the French King, who hath so unjustly begun it, relying on the Help of Almighty God, in Our just Undertaking, and being assured of the hearty Concurrence and Assistance of Our Subjects, in support of so good a Cause; hereby willing and requiring Our Captain General of Our Forces, Our Commissioners for executing the Office of Our High Admiral of Great Britain, Our Lieutenants of Our several Counties, Governors of Our Forts and Garrisons, and all other Officers and Soldiers under them, by Sea and Land, to do and execute all Acts of Hostility, in the Prosecution of this War against the French King, his Vassals and Subjects, and to oppose their Attempts : Willing and requiring all Our Subjects to take Notice of the same, whom We henceforth strictly forbid to hold any Correspondence or Communication with the said French King, or his Subjects. And We do hereby command Our own Subjects, and advertise all other Persons, of what Nation soever, not to transport or carry any Soldiers, Arms, Powder, Ammunition, or other Contraband Goods, to any of the Territories, Lands, Plantations, or Countries of the said French King; Declaring, That whatever Ship or Vessel shall be met withal, transporting or carrying Soldiers, Arms, Powder, Ammunition, or any other Contraband Goods, to any of the Territories, Lands, Plantations, or Countries of the said French King, the same, being taken, shall be condemned as good and lawful Prize.

And whereas there are remaining in Our Kingdom divers of the Subjects of the French King, We do hereby declare Our Royal Intention to be, That all the French Subjects who shall demean themselves dutifully towards Us, shall be safe in their Persons and Effects.

Given at Our Court of Kensington, the Seventeenth Day of May, 1756, in the Twenty ninth Year of Our Reign.
God save the King.



Jean-Louis Vial for supplying this document