England and France had fought from the time of Richard the Lionheart and Philip II after the 3rd Crusade in the 12th century, up to the 19th century between the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.
In the 1750s, tensions between Britain and France increased in North America over control of the Ohio River Valley.
In 1753, the British Governor of Virginia, Robert Dinwiddie, sent 21-year-old Major George Washington to deliver a message to the French, telling them to leave.
Instead, the French built Fort Duquesne, near present-day Pittsburgh.
In 1754, Governor Dinwiddie promoted Washington to Lieutenant Colonel and instructed him to raise a militia to confront the French.
Washington, with 40 British militia and 12 Mingo warriors ambushed a small force of 35 French Canadians led by Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville.
One of the Indians buried his tomahawk in the head of Jumonville, instantly killing him.
Washington retreated and hurriedly constructed Fort Necessity.
He was soon surrounded by the French and forced to surrender.
This incident sparked the French and Indian War with the British.
In 1755, the British expelled the French from Acadia and Nova Scotia.
Many resettled in French Louisiana near New Orleans.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the epic poem "Evangeline," memorializing the tragic fate of the French Acadians.
In Louisiana, the name Acadian became pronounced "cajun."
In July of 1755, the French and Indians ambushed 1,400 British troops headed for Fort Duquesne in the Battle of Monongehela,
900 British were killed, including General Braddock, leaving Colonel George Washington in charge of the retreat.
The French and Indian War quickly went global, being called the Seven Years War.
The web of alliances that Britain and France had with other countries entangled much of the world in war.
Britain's allies included Prussia, Hanover, Hesse, Brunswick, Schaumberg, Portugal, and Iroquois.
France's allies included Austria, Russia, Sweden, Saxony, Spain and India's Mughal Empire.
It is considered to be the first "world" war, as fighting over control of trade took place in:
Canada and America;
Cuba, the Caribbean islands, Columbia, Brazil, Uruguay and other areas of South America;
Europe: Britain, Ireland, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Saxony, Prussia, Russia, the Baltic, and the Mediterranean;
Bengal, India, West Africa, and the Philippines.
Some of the major battles in India, Bengal, and the East were:
- First Carnatic War 1745-1748;
- Second Carnatic War 1749-1754;
- Third Carnatic War 1756-1763;
- Battle of Plassey 1757;
- Battle of Buxar 1764.
During America's colonial era, the French cultivated trade and friendly relations with Indians by assimilating with various aspects of their culture, giving them gifts, and even intermarrying.
British, on the other hand, replaced Governor Dinwiddie with Jeffery Amherst. Amherst was the Commander-in-Chief of British forces in North America who was known for treating native populations as conquered peoples, though not enslaving them as Spaniards had done in Central and South America.
During the French and Indian War, most native tribes most sided with the French:
Ottawas, Ojibwas, Potawatomis, Hurons, Miamis, Weas, Kickapoos, Mascoutens, Piankashaws, Delawares, Shawnees, Wyandots, Mingos, and some Iroquois.
Ottawa chief Pontiac's involvement was called Pontiac's War. From 1763 to 1766, French and Indians carried out ambushes and surprise attacks on British settlements from Virginia and Pennsylvania to Ohio and the Great Lakes.
- Devil's Hole Massacre,
- Enoch Brown School Massacre,
- Fort Sandusky Massacre,
- Hochstetler Massacre,
- Fort William Henry Massacre,
- Clendenin Massacre,
- Point Pelee, and
- Battle of Bloody Run.
French and Indians attacked and laid siege to British forts:
- Fort Detroit (Detroit, Michigan)
- Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
- Fort Bedford (Bedford, Pennsylvania)
- Fort Ligonier (Ligonier, Pennsylvania)
- Fort Niagara (Youngstown, New York).
Eight British forts were completely overrun:
- Fort Sandusky (Venice, Ohio)
- Fort St. Joseph (Niles, Michigan)
- Fort Miami (Fort Wayne, Indiana)
- Fort Ouiatenon (Lafayette, Indiana)
- Fort Michilimackinac (Mackinaw City, Michigan)
- Fort Venango (Franklin, Pennsylvania) Fort Le Boeuf (Waterford, Pennsylvania)
- Fort Presque Isle (Erie, Pennsylvania).
An estimated 2,500 soldiers and colonists were killed or captured. Some were tortured, scalped, burned at the stake, or in some cases, cannibalized. Some 4,000 fled for their lives.
Tragically, peaceful Christian Indians were caught in the middle. In Western Pennsylvania, near Lancaster, a vigilante group of Paxton Boys indiscriminately retaliated, killing Christian Susquehannock Indians in the Conestoga Massacre.
Benjamin Franklin condemned the lawless acts of Paxton Boys in a pamphlet published in 1764.
The Seven Years War ended in 1763, resulting in France losing territories around the world, including Canada and all their land in America east of the Mississippi River.
To prevent French land west of the Mississippi from falling into British hands, France secretly ceded the Louisiana Territory to Spain with the Treaty of Fontainebleau, 1762.
Many French fled across the Mississippi River to settle the cities of St. Louis and St. Charles.
Following the French and Indian War, the threat of future attacks resulted in the King leaving British troops on American soil. This Royal Army soon turned into an oppressive occupying force, trampling colonists' rights.
"They do not jeopard their lives for a master who considers them only as the instruments of his ambition, and whom they regard only as the daily dispenser of the scanty pittance of bread and water."
Hancock described Americans:
"No; They fight for their houses, their lands, for their wives, their children; or all who claim the tenderest names, and are held dearest in their hearts; they fight pro aris et focis (Latin: "for our altars and our hearths" or "for God and country"), for their liberty, and for themselves, and for their God ... We have all one common cause ... the security of the liberties of America."--
American Minute is a registered trademark of William J. Federer. Permission granted to forward, reprint, or duplicate.
Image Credits: Public Domain; Author: John Henry Walker (1831-1899); Description: Français: Fort Chouagen; J. Walker: gravure expressément faite pour le Tuttle's Illustrated History of the Dominion, 1877; Date: September 14, 2016; Source/Photographer: Journal de Montréal http://storage.journaldemontreal.com/v1/dynamic_resize/sws_path/jdx-prod-images/2d624339-42e7-4445-8cd4-a8768f83a921_ORIGINAL.jpg?quality=200&size=2000 ; Other versions: Capitulation d'Oswego.jpg https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fort_Oswego.jpg