By Frank McLynn
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Additional resources for 1759: The Year Britain Became Master of the World
The luckless pope Clement XIII spent most of his pontificate vainly pleading for leniency for the Society of Jesus against its enemies in France, Spain and Portugal before finally accepting the political reality of superior power ruthlessly deployed. It took Frederick of Prussia and Catherine the Great of Russia to save the Jesuits from extinction. From the Anglo-French point of view probably the British were the greater losers from these events. Despite the supposedly historic ties of friendship between Lisbon and London, Pombal identified the British as the major threat to his ambitions in Latin America.
Clement’s ‘interventionism’ had already drawn the fire of Frederick of Prussia, who forged a papal brief, dated 30 January 1759, in which he congratulated the Austrian Marshal Daun for the victory at Hochkirch. The future great and good, and the notorious and controversial, enjoyed mixed fortunes in 1759. George Washington married Martha Dandridge Curtis, a wealthy, twenty-seven-year-old widow and mother of two, and proceeded to lose much of her fortune in unwise speculation in tobacco plantations.
Shawnee Indians on the Pennsylvania/Virginia border attacked settlers in October 1759 and wiped out entire families. The militia overtook the marauders in Highland County and fought a few inconclusive skirmishes before the Shawnees broke off and withdrew. The dogged militia caught up with the raiders again near the present border with West Virginia and this time managed to kill some twenty warriors. But for a time the worry was that the Shawnees and Cherokees might make common cause and set the entire south alight, thus possibly enabling the French to avoid what otherwise looked like certain defeat in North America.