Ward's Book of Days.

Pages of interesting anniversaries.

What happened on this day in history.

OCTOBER 19th

On this day in history in 1739, broke out The War of Jenkins’ Ear.

Hostility between Britain and Spain had been building up during the early eighteenth century. The Spaniards disliked the British trading with their colonies in the Americas and thought that the British were stealing their trade routes and hoping to take over the colonies. The British also feared that the Spaniards envied their colonies in North America and the West Indies.

Various sea battles and minor skirmishes took place but British Prime Minister, Walpole defied public opinion which cried out for war with Spain. In 1739, a British sea captain, Robert Jenkins produced before the House of Commons his own ear, preserved in a jar of spirit, which he claimed had been cut off by a dastardly Spaniard attempting to take his vessel.

The House was enraged and Walpole was obliged to declare war on Spain. The news of the outbreak of war was met with public rejoicing. Walpole said sadly “They are ringing their bells now, they will be wringing their hands soon!”

Recommended reading. 

Pearce, Edward.  The Great Man: Sir Robert Walpole - Scoundrel, Genius and Britain's First Prime Minister.
Black, Jeremy.  Walpole in Power: Britain's First Prime Minister.

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