1768 (The People's Chronology)
Former British member of Parliament John Wilkes returns early in the year from Paris, where he has piled up huge debts (see 1764); buoyed by rising sentiment against the government, he is elected to Parliament for Middlesex, gives himself up to the authorities at the end of April, and uses a technicality to have his outlawry reversed in June, but he waives his privilege as a member of Parliament and submits to sentences that total 2 years' imprisonment and £1,000 in fines for the two charges on which he was convicted 4 years ago. He then publishes incendiary items against the ministry for using troops to quell rioters and tries to have his convictions overturned by a petition to the Commons (see 1769).
Gloucestershire-born politician Wills Hill, 49, earl of Hillsborough, is appointed secretary of state for the colonies, having served as president of the board of trade and plantations under George Grenville. Hillsborough opposes all concessions to the colonies.
France purchases Corsica from Genoa May 15, but patriot leader Pasquale de Paoli, now 42, will hold out against the French until his forces are overpowered next year (see 1755). Louis XV has lost most of his colonial empire, has taxed the people heavily to maintain his luxurious life style, and is widely hated; he has recently become enamored of a Paris seamstress's illegitimate daughter, the beautiful Jeanne Bécu, 22, who worked as a prostitute for the roué Guillaume du Barry before meeting the king and is known as the comtesse du Barry (see 1769).
Former British prime minister Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st duke of Newcastle, dies without issue at London November 17 at age 75. His dukedom devolves on his nephew Henry Finnes Clinton.
Austria renounces all claims to Silesia.
The Ottoman sultan Mustapha III declares war on Russia in October, charging that Moscow's occupation of Poland violates the 1711 Treaty of Pruth (see 1769).
Nepal in the Himalayas is unified under King Prithwi Naryan Shah.
A colonial sheriff in North Carolina's Orange County announces in the spring that he will be collecting taxes in certain given tax stations and if colonists do not pay at those places they will be subject to penalties (see Tryon, 1765). Backwoods radical groups calling themselves Regulators rally support, saying they will not pay taxes unless satisfied that the levies are lawful and will be used for stated purposes. Officials at Hillsborough (named for the new British secretary of state for the colonies) seize a Regulator's horse, saddle, and bridle to be sold for taxes; other Regulators rescue the horse, fire some shots into a house, and precipitate violence that escalates throughout much of the colony (see 1770).
British customs officials at Boston seize the sloop Liberty June 10. Owner of the sloop is John Hancock, now 31, whose late uncle has left him a fortune gained by profiteering in food supplied to the British troops (young Hancock has enhanced that fortune by smuggling wine into Boston, and the customs officials seized his ship to confiscate its cargo of wine for use as evidence against Hancock, who will soon switch to smuggling tea; see "Boston Tea Party," 1773). The seizure of the Liberty precipitates riots organized by firebrand Samuel Adams. About 1,000 Sons of Liberty destroy royal property, and Adams calls in his lawyer cousin John Adams, 33, to defend Hancock, who is acquitted of all charges. Boston merchants adopt a nonimportation agreement August 1 (see 1764).
Delegates from 26 Massachusetts towns meet at Faneuil Hall September 22 in response to a call by Boston selectmen following the anti-British riots. They draw up a statement of grievances, but the Royal Navy lands two infantry regiments October 1, and two more regiments are ordered sent from Halifax (see Boston "Massacre," 1770).
The Treaty of Hard Labor signed in the South Carolina colony October 14 confirms cessions of Cherokee lands in the Virginia and Carolina colonies to the British crown.
The Treaty of Fort Stanwix signed November 5 at the 10-year-old British stronghold on the upper Mohawk River confirms the cession of Iroquois territories between the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers to the British crown. Virginia House of Burgesses member Thomas Walker, now 53, represents his colony at the signing ceremony.
Explorer-colonial administrator Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, sieur de Bienville, dies at Paris March 7 at age 88.
Explorer Jonathan Carver returns to Mackinac via the north shore of Lake Superior with the party that he joined last year, having failed to find a route to the Pacific. He tries without success to have the journal of his travels published and will voyage to Britain next year in hopes of finding a publisher (see 1778).
Lieutenant James Cook, Royal Navy, sails from Plymouth August 26 to establish a British observatory at a recently discovered Pacific Ocean island (it will soon be named Tahiti) as part of the project planned by the late astronomer Edmund Halley before his death in 1743 (the 106-year-old Royal Society has persuaded the Admiralty that the passing of the planet Venus across the face of the sun on June 3 of next year should be observed from the South Pacific). Now 40, Cook fought the French in the Seven Years' War, took part in the amphibious assault on Quebec, and helped the late General Wolfe survey the St. Lawrence River, but although he spent six years surveying the Newfoundland coast as commander of the schooner H.M.S. Grenville and 2 years ago sent the Royal Society details of a solar eclipse that he had witnessed, he remains virtually unknown (born in a mud hut, he went to sea at age 17 as a coal-ship merchant, joined the navy as an able seaman, and married the daughter of a dockside tavern keeper). George III has rejected the Society's choice of Scottish hydrographer and East India Company employee Alexander Dalrymple, 31, whose 188-page Account of the Discoveries made in the South Pacifick Ocean Previous to 1764 was published last year. Cook's orders are to assist the Society in its observations and then (under sealed orders) to find the supposed southern continent known as Terra Austalis (see Tasman, 1643); he embarks in H.M.S. Endeavour, a slow 368-ton vessel less than 98 feet in length that was built 4 years ago as a collier, and bears southwest for Rio (see 1769).
Charlotte, North Carolina, is founded by colonists who name their settlement after George III's queen.
London has bread riots as prices rise; mobs pillage government grain stores (see Burke's Act, 1773).
The price of bread at Paris reaches 4 sous per pound and a placard appears in the city: "Under Henri IV bread was sometimes expensive because of war and France had a king; under Louis XIV it sometimes went up because of war and sometimes because of famine and France had a king; now there is no war and no famine and the cost of bread still goes up and France has no king because the king is a grain merchant." Government regulations discourage farmers from increasing their grain acreage, critics say, and they demand free circulation of grain (see 1766; Turgot, 1774).
Berlin-born Prussian naturalist Peter Simon Pallas, 26, wins appointment as professor of natural history at St. Petersburg's Imperial Academy of Sciences and joins a scientific expedition to Siberia. Pallas had outlined new classifications of certain animal groups by age 15; he will spend the next 6 years traveling across the Russian Empire, finding fossils of rhinoceros and mammoths, including some with their hides preserved in the Siberian ice.
Italian naturalist Lazzaro Spallanzani, 39, disproves the universally believed notion of spontaneous generation of organisms (in mutton broth) (see Needham, 1748; Maupertuis, 1751).
Mathematician-astronomer Johann H. Lambert at Berlin publishes a memoir giving rigorous proof that expressing the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter with the symbol pi is irrational, meaning that it cannot be expressed as the quotient of two integers.
Edinburgh-born optician-astronomer James Short dies at London June 14 at age 58, having produced the first truly parabolic and elliptic metallic mirrors for reflecting telescopes, making them nearly distortionless. Always secretive, he has ordred that his tools be destroyed.
Angina pectoris gets its first accurate description. London physician William Heberdeen, 58, describes chest pains caused by what later will prove to be insufficient oxygenation of the heart muscle (see Parry, 1799).
"Giving up witchcraft is, in effect, giving up the Bible," writes clergyman John Wesley in his journal. Now 65, Wesley adheres to the spirit of the Inquisition despite the rise of Rationalism.
Scottish Presbyterian minister John Witherspoon, 45, leaves Paisley for America to become president of the College of New Jersey at Princeton. An energetic fund raiser, he soon restores its finances and will prove himself an exemplary educator, with students who will include poet Philip Freneau and statesman James Madison.
Educator-theologian Johann Julius Hecker dies at Berlin June 24 at age 60, having founded secondary schools that prepare students for practical life rather than teaching only the classics.
The first volume of The Encyclopaedia Britannica, or a Dictionary of Arts and Sciences Compiled Upon a New Plan is published at Edinburgh by three men who call themselves, "A Society of Gentlemen in Scotland"; they are engraver-printer Andrew Bell, 42; printer Colin Macfarquhar; and local printer, antiquary, and natural historian William Smellie, 23, who is the chief compiler. Bell has offered Smellie £200 to assume responsibility for "fifteen capital sciences" and "likewise to prepare the whole work for the press." The three-volume, 2,659-page work will be published in 1771 and sell for £12, roughly what an Edinburgh artisan earns in a year, and will be only casually researched and edited (California will be described as "a large country of the West Indies" and "woman" defined merely as "the female of man"), but the Encyclopaedia will be improved and expanded and go into 14 editions in the next 203 years (see 1784). The French Encyclopédie has inaccuracies of its own, despite contributory efforts to the 28-volume Dictionaire Raisonne des Sciences, des Arts et des Métier by the comte de Buffon, Baron d'Holbach (whose 376 articles are translated from German texts), the late baron de Montesquieu, François Quesnay, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Jacques Turgot, and Voltaire (the final volumes contain virtually no text but are filled with illustrations designed to educate even un-lettered users in the basics of science and technology, showing them how to make everything from eyeglasses to windmills). Both encyclopedias attempt to compile in alphabetical order what 18th-century man knows but has never had readily accessible in written form (see 1772).
Nonfiction: A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy by Laurence Sterne, who ridicules Tobias Smollett, calling him "Smelfungus." Unlike Smollett, Sterne expresses delight in the French and Italian customs that he has encountered between Calais and Lyons; An Account of Corsica by James Boswell wins the admiration of Doctor Johnson.
Laurence Sterne dies of pleurisy at London March 18 at age 54 (he has been tubercular since childhood), leaving only two volumes of a projected four; archaeologist-art historian Johann Winckelmann is murdered by a chance acquaintance at Trieste June 8 at age 50, having done much to stimulate interest in the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii but never having fulfilled his desire to visit Greece, despite repeated invitations from friends.
Fiction: Tales of the Rainy Moon (Ugetsu-monogatari) by Japanese novelist Akinari Ueda, 34, who has collected stories from Japanese and Chinese tales. Born in an Osaka brothel district, Ueda was adopted at age 3 into a family of oil merchants and led a dissolute life until his marriage 3 years ago.
Painting: Garrick as Kitely by Joshua Reynolds. London's most fashionable portrait painter, Reynolds begins a series of 15 lectures as president of the new Royal Academy of Art; Lake Nemi by Richard Wilson, who helps found the new Royal Academy; Experiment with an Air Pump and Philosopher Giving a Lecture on the Orrey by Joseph Wright. Antonio Canaletto dies at Venice April 20 at age 70.
Theater: The Good Natured Man by Oliver Goldsmith 1/29 at London's Royal Theatre in Covent Garden.
Opera: Lo speziale (The Apothecary) in the autumn at Schloss Esterházy, with music by Joseph Haydn, libretto by Carlo Goldoni.
Italian composer-cellist Luigi (Rodolfo) Boccherini, 25, gains fame with a performance at the Concert Spirituel at Paris and receives an invitation to be composer to the court of the infante Don Luis at Madrid.
Architecture, Real Estate
Le Petit Trianon is completed at Versailles, where it was designed for the late Mme. de Pompadour (see 1762).
Dutch colonial officials make a count of young and mature clove trees in the East Indies and find some 780,000; they set out to stop clove propagation until the number has been reduced to 550,000. Warehouses at Batavia are stocked with 3 million pounds of cloves, only 15 percent of which can be disposed of in any given year (see 1760). It is estimated that the Dutch alone have enough cloves to meet Europe's demand for cloves for the next 10 years.
Food And Drink
A French apothecary discovers kaolin at Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche in the Limousin, 25 miles south of Limoges. He noticed 3 years ago that his wife was digging up a white material beyond the village cemetery and using it to wash his linen clean. The increasing popularity of tea, coffee, and chocolate has boosted demand for graceful china cups and durable teapots, coffeepots, chocolate pots, bowls, and pitchers, all of them now imported by the various Indies companies from China, where artisans produce chinaware with European designs.
Plymouth pharmacist William Cookworthy obtains a patent on his method for making hard porcelain (see 1754; Wedgwood, 1762). Now 63, he has experimented for years with the kaolin and petuntse that he found in 1754 and 1756, respectively, and establishes the Plymouth China Factory to produce porcelainware.
Benjamin Franklin writes to his daughter, begging her to send him foods he remembers from home: apples, cranberries, dried peaches, buckwheat flour, and cornmeal. Stationed at London as colonial agent for Pennsylvania, he is appointed colonial agent for Georgia as well and tries to show the Englishwomen in his kitchen how to make cornbread and corncakes.
Captain Cook in the South Atlantic has two sailors punished in September for complaining about their allowance of beef. He has read his people the Articles of War that make it an offense to stir up "disturbances on account of the Unwholesomeness of Victual," H.M.S. Endeavour has been at sea only 3 weeks, and the men are flogged (12 lashes each). The ship has left port with 17 sheep, four pigs, a milk goat, and several dozen ducks and chickens, and she has taken on more than 3,000 gallons of wine at Madeira to supplement its stores of alcoholic beverages (1,200 gallons of beer and 1,600 gallons of brandy, arrack, and rum); the normal daily ration is one gallon of beer or a pint of spirits, usually rum, diluted with water for the twice-daily "grog" or with beer to make a "flip." Many of the crewmen are in various states of intoxication all day long.
The English wine exporting firm Duff-Gordon is founded at Cádiz, Spain, by the local British consul, James Duff, and his nephew William Gordon (see Osborne, 1772).
The East India Company imports 10 million pounds of tea per year into England (see 1773).