The first cracks in the old regime were opened in Boston. British treatment of neutral shipping during the American Revolutionary War (1776–82) led to the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780–84). From a military point of view, it simply showed up how far the Republic had declined from its world-power status of the Golden Age. International finance reached new heights, most spectacularly with loans to the new United States and to Russia, but manufacturing was stagnant and trade was at a standstill. From 1780 to 1781 the Baltic carrying trade fell from over 2,000 vessels to a mere 11. Even when the American War was over, in 1782, the Republic was obliged to continue the fight with England until France would make peace. The Prince of Orange, the Republic’s military leader, had been against the war from the start and was blamed for the disastrous course of events. By the 1780s there were ‘Patriots’ in the Netherlands who drew their inspiration from the American Revolution. The traditional Regent opposition to Orangist control made common cause with the demands of the Patriots.
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