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Oct 31, 1753
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The French and Indian War 1754-63
The French and Indian War was the last of four major colonial wars between the British, the French, and their Native American allies for control of North America .As French New France and the English colonies expanded toward each other, they were destined to come into conflict. The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle which ended the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-8), where its North American operations were known as King George's War, did very little to set matters to rest in North America; it provided only a short breathing spell before the numerous unsettled treaty questions and gave rise to another and far greater war. The treaty did little or nothing toward marking out boundaries either at the east in Acadia, or at the west toward the Ohio valley, and it was in the latter region that the next great storm was to burst.
Maps of the area of conflict in the French and Indian War
On March 16, 1749, King George II granted large tracts of land to the Ohio Company.The grant had a stipulation that the company must establish a settlement of 100 families and build a fort within seven years. The English felt this land was theirs, based upon the land of English colonies extending "from sea to sea". When the colonies were first established, America was only estimated to be about 300 miles wide.The French felt these lands were theirs through right of discovery and had been an trading area of the French. Alarmed at the influx of British traders into the Ohio country, Marquis de La Galissoniere sent Captain Pierre Joseph Celeron de Blainville into this Ohio country with 213 men on June 15, 1749. Celeron planted lead tablets along the Ohio River inscribed with France's claim to the territory. Tablets, however, did little to keep the English traders out of the area and the Indians preferred the cheaper and higher quality goods the English had to offer. Galissoniere was replaced as governor by Jacques Pirre de Jonquiere, who took more aggressive action. Raids were sent against the Shawnees , who had traded with the English in the Ohio country and Fort Rouille (Toronto) was built to block trade between the Great Lakes and Oswego in New York.
Iroquoi fort under attack in the Beaver Wars
Most of the Ohio Country had been conquered by the Iroquois in the Beaver Wars (1638-84). The Iroquois Confederation
( Mohawk,Onedia,Onondaga,Cayuga and Seneca) fought against the Hurons,Ottowas,Neutrals,Miamis,Mohicans,Susquehanocks,Delawares,Eries and other Algonquian-speaking tribes to control the fur trade and expand territory. The Iroquois were armed by Dutch and later English traders and their enemies were supported by the French. Alliances made during these times would become important in the French and Indian War.The Beaver Wars together with European introduced diseases severely weakened both the Iroquois and Algonquian speaking tribes.
On June 16, 1744 commissioners from Maryland,Virginia and Pennsylvania meet with representatives of the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, which claimed the Ohio country by right of conquest after the Beaver Wars (1638-84) and used the area as a hunting ground. The Iroquois agreed to cede for about 800 £ in colonial currency and 300 £ worth of gold. Within months of the treaty, 300,000 acres of land had been granted. On June 21, 1753, a half breed French-Indian agent, Charles Langlade, who led the Ojibwas (Chippewas) attacked Pickawilly, Ohio, the main base of the Miami Indians who had been trading with the English.13 Miami warriors and one English trader were killed, three others taken captive. Chief Memeskia of the Miami was killed and ritually eaten. The attack drove the English traders out of the Ohio country. The Miami, Shawnee and Delaware switched allegiance to the French .Chief Tanaghrisson of the Senecas (an Iroquois tribe) asked that a fort be build in present day Pittsburgh for protection, which the English did two years later.
On July 1, 1752, a new governor was appointed in New France, Marquis Duquesne, who ordered the construction of new forts to secure control of the Ohio country and began construction of Fort LeBoeuf (Waterford, Penn). Meanwhile, in England, Lord Halifax, arguing that the French, in moving into the Ohio country, had broken the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, which acknowledged the Iroquois as British subjects, therefore, their land, even areas conquered by them were British. Since the Ohio country was seen to be an extension of Virginia, Governor Robert Dinwiddle of Virginia was authorized to evict the French from the disputed area.Dinwiddle dispatched George Washington to deliver an ultimatum to the commander of Fort LeBoeuf, Captain Legardeur de Saint-Pierre. Washington set out from Williamsburg on October 31, 1753.
clips of battles in the French and Indian War
Major Washington and a wounded General Braddock at the Battle of Monongahela. Lemercier, 1854
This land was under the control of the Iroquois tribes who for the most part sided with France and launched brutal raids against English settlements armed with French weapons . Unlike the previous three wars colonial ( King William's War , called the War of the League of Ausburg in Europe 1689-1697, Queen Anne's War, called the War of the Spanish Succession in Europe (1702-1713) and King George's War , (1740-1748) the French and Indian War began on North American soil after Major Washington came into conflict with the French near modern day Pittsburgh .This became one of the sparks that ignited the Seven Years War in Europe .
The war spread to Africa and India, making the conflict one of the first true 'world' wars . In Europe,Prussia, Electorate Brunswick-Lüneburg, and United Kingdom fought against Austria, France (including the North American colony of New France and the French East India Company), the Russian Empire, Sweden, and Saxony.
The forces of General Wolfe making a surprise attack on Quebec.London Magazine, 1760
France was initially successful in the war,which had better relations with the Indians and adapted warfare to fit the New World. However, the population of New France was much smaller than that of the English colonies, and France sent fewer and fewer supplies and troops to support a colony that became to be seen as a drain on the country . After the fall of Louisbourg and Quebec, France agreed to peace in 1763 . The heavy expense of the war, led the British to seek tax revenues from the American colonists, which led to the American Revolution .
Death of Montcalm
The Treaty of Paris elevated Great Britain to the strongest power in Europe with the largest world empire .A long dream of the English colonists to stop the combined French and Indian attacks was realized .The West lay open, and the Indians stood alone and could no longer count on as being courted as allies, playing one nation against the other .It was inevitable that the Americans would expand into Indian lands .
Map of the New World after the Treaty of Paris. Gray area are crown lands reserved for Indians. Louisiana given to Spain for loss of Florida. France was left with two small islands off Newfoundland .
The Treaty of Paris ended a century of Anglo-French conflict in the New World, the French were left with the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, which have rich fishing grounds, south of Newfoundland. France, realizing it would lose New France, made a secret treat with Spain in 1762, which gave Spain the then vast Louisiana territory and New Orleans .Spain had joined France's side in 1761 .
To us of this day, the result of the American part of the war seems a foregone conclusion. It was far from being so; and very far from being so regarded by our forefathers. The numerical superiority of the British colonies was offset by organic weaknesses fatal to vigorous and united action. Nor at the outset did they, or the mother-country, aim at conquering Canada, but only at pushing back her boundaries. More than one clear eye saw, at the middle of the last century, that the subjection of Canada would lead to a revolt of the British colonies. So long as an active and enterprising enemy threatened their borders, they could not break with the mother-country.
Videos on the French and Indian War
Books and dvds on the French and Indian War
The definitive academic history of the mid 18th-century French and Indian War and its long-term consequences for America and the world
Montcalm and Wolfe
(1884) classic by American historian Francis Parkman. Parkman was a master of narrative history, with a sense of style and gift of portraiture based upon a thorough knowledge of the terrain and exhaustive and scrupulous scholarship
Read for free at
buy the book
free Librivox audiobook
Walter R. Borneman
This PBS documentary revisits the important but often forgotten war through archival material, interviews with scholars and historians, dramatic re-creations
Nouvelle France 2004
(Battle of the Brave)
Romance set during the fall of New France
This handsome book extensively illustrated with paintings, sketches, and colour photographs of important sites and artifacts relating to the war, historian Ron Dale offers a narrative encompassing all sides of the conflict and important sites and fortification
Movie of of a Jesuit missionary who leaves France in 1634 to bring the word of Jesus to the Huron tribe of rugged northern Quebec.