In 1753, a young man set out do deliver an important letter. There were no roads where he was going. The weather was awful—it rained or snowed every day. Twice, someone shot at him. Going home he fell into a freezing river. “I can’t say,” he wrote later, “that ever in my life I suffered so much anxiety….” The young man was George Washington. The letter was from the governor of Virginia to the French military leader in the Ohio River Valley. Virginia claimed this area. The governor was ordering the French to give up their land holdings in the valley. Washington delivered his letter, and received the answer. Wet, cold, and tired, he arrived back in Virginia with bad news. The French would not leave the region without a fight.
FOCUS: Why did tensions increase between the French, Native Americans, and British? The Ohio River Valley was a place of conflict even before George Washington's trip. The Iroquois fought with other Native Americans and took the Native Americans’ fur to trade with the British. Then, with the help of the Ohio River Valley Indians, the French defeated the Iroquois and then began trading with them. In the 1740’s, British fur traders entered the area. This made the French afraid the Iroquois would unite with the British against them. To protect their fur trade, and their claims on the land, the French built a line of sturdy forts. Fort Carillon protected their claims in the north while Fort Duquesne guarded the place where the Ohio and Allegheny rivers met. (look at the map on pg. 236) This action worried the British and their colonists. These forts keep them from trading furs and farming the land. Who would control this fertile river valley?
In 1754, the governor of Virginia again sent George Washington to challenge the French. This time, Washington had 150 men with him. They built a simple fort for protection near the French Fort Duquesne and called it Fort Necessity. (Why do you think they called it “Fort Necessity”? Within weeks, French forces attacked Fort Necessity. They had twice as many troops. Washington and his men held out for nine hours in a pouring rain, but finally had to surrender. The French let them go home. Although Washington lost the battle, he gained valuable experience as a military leader. French Flag The French often built forts in a star-shaped design. Pg. 237
Albany Plan of Union………. During this time the colonies also gained valuable experience—not in fighting, but in bringing people together. In 1754, seven colonies sent representative to a congress, or meeting of representatives, in New York. There, they met with the Iroquois chiefs. They tried to persuade the Iroquois to join with the British and their colonists. But the Iroquois would not take sides. Some representatives thought he colonies needed to help each other. Benjamin Franklin, who attended the congress, made a proposal called the Albany Plan of Union. He wanted the colonies to join together to fight the French. The colonies rejected Franklin’s plan . They were not yet ready to work together for a common goal.
FOCUS: What were the effects of Britain’s victory? In 1755, British General Braddock arrived in the colonies with an army of 1,000 men. His orders were to drive the French out of the Ohio River Valley. But Braddock never reached his target. His army was attacked by a smaller force of Native Americans and French. Braddock was killed, and his troops suffered heavy losses. Washington, who was there, said the British soldiers “ran as sheep pursued by dogs.” (What do you think that saying means?) With Braddock’s defeat many Native Americans joined the French. They became allies. Allies are people who join together for a specific purpose. These Native Americans hoped a French victory would keep British colonists from taking the land.
Britain declared war on France in 1756, officially beginning what we call the French and Indian War. This was a contest for control over North America. Britain also fought the French in Europe and as far away as India. Because it went on for seven years, this large struggle is often called the Seven Years’ War. For two years the war in North America went badly for Britain. Then, in 1758, Britain sent more men and money to the fight. They began to win. That year the British captured Fort Carillon and renamed it Fort Ticonderoga. The turning point in the war came in 1759, when Britain captured Quebec, the capital of New France. Within a year, the French surrendered to the British. (look at the map on page 239)
With the defeat of the French, British colonists began moving west to the area the French had claimed. An Ottawa chief from the Great Lakes region united several Native American nations to stop them. His name was Pontiac. He led a series of very successful attacks on British forts. By the spring of 1763, he had captured 12 forts. In response, the British government issued the Proclamation of 1763. A proclamation is an official announcement. This proclamation said that Native Americans owned the land west of the Appalachian Mountains. It forbade settlers form moving there. But, the colonists wanting new land, ignored the Proclamation. They kept moving west. Pontiac’s Rebellion
Pontiac was a skilled leader who brought 15 Native American nations together to stop the British!
In 1763, the Treat of Paris ended the war and changed boundaries dramatically. France lost all land claims in North America, Britain gained twice as much land use—and to protect. The cost of this protections would cause trouble between its colonists and Britain. (What do you think that problem is?)