Have you ever heard of the War of Jenkins’s Ear? If not, you are not alone.
This particular war took place in colonial Georgia. It involved both Spain and England in a dispute over the land between South Carolina and Florida, what is now the state of Georgia in the U. S. The dispute lasted some 200 years, with formal hostilities beginning in 1739. Georgia was eventually preserved as an English colony, but for a time the colony’s success seemed a dim hope.
In outrage, the English public demanded retribution.
Robert Jenkins shows his severed ear to Prime Minister Robert Walpole.
1738 satirical cartoon depicts Prime Minister Robert Walpole swooning when confronted with the Spanish-sliced ear, which led to the War of Jenkins’ Ear in 1739. British Museum, London
Beginning in 1740, General James Oglethorpe seized the Spanish forts of Fort Picolata and Fort San Franciso de Pupo, west of what is now St. Augustine, Florida, on the St. Johns River. Confrontations continued, with both sides knowing success and failure, until the summer of 1742. Oglethorpe had retreated to Fort Frederica to await a Spanish invasion. The Spanish landed on St. Simons Island and prepared for an attack. The second of two attacks was known as the Battle of Bloody Marsh. The British were able to withstand the assault, sending the Spanish in a retreat to St. Augustine. The last battle of the War of Jenkins’s Ear came in March 1743. The two countries signed The Treaty of Aix-la-Chappelle in 1748, which returned all colonial claims to previous owners. The St. Johns River became the unofficial border between Georgia and Florida. The English were able to keep the Spanish from advancing their claims in the New World. Georgia became the buffer between England’s claims in the British North America against foreign claims. Georgia remained in English possession due to Oglethorpe and the War of Jenkins’s Ear.