At the end of the 18th century, unrest was growing in the Netherlands. Fights were starting between the Orangists, wanting stadtholder William V of Orange to exercise more power, and the patriots, who under influence of the American Revolution wanted a more democratic government.
The United Provinces were the first country to salute the American flag, and Britain declared war before the Dutch could join a group of neutral countries sworn to mutual assistance. This Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780-1784) proved a disaster for the Netherlands, particularly economically.
The Dutch navy seemed no match for the English navy. Dutch world power was in decline. Britain had already gained supremacy on the high seas long before, in the Seven Years' War.