The French and Indian War
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The Ohio Country
There were often clashes between the French and the British. Most of the conflict was over the Ohio Country, the rich and fertile land west of the Appalachian Mountains. By the middle of the eighteenth century, there was no keeping British colonists out of the Ohio Country. Pennsylvanians started to trade with the Indians there. Virginians claimed that their charter of 1609 gave them the Ohio Country.

In 1747, a group of Virginia planters and London merchants organized the Ohio Company to settle the Ohio Valley. Tow years later the British Crown gave the company 200,000 acres in Ohio Country. The Crown promised more land if the company settled 200 families there within 7 years.

The French also claimed the Ohio Country, and they tried to keep the British colonists out. They carved the message that the Ohio Country belonged to France on lead plates and placed them along the Allegheny and Ohio rivers. Neither the English nor the Indians were very impressed, and so the French acted more forcefully. They destroyed the major post where Indians and Pennsylvanians traded in the Ohio Country and began to build a number of forts nearby.
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The Virginians decided to beat the French at their own game. They started a fort at the important location where the Allegheny River joins the Monongahela to form the Ohio River. The C=city of Pittsburgh stands their now. French soldiers drove the Virginians out before they were half done. Then the French built their own Fort Duquesne on the same spot.

Meanwhile, British soldiers led by a 22 year old militia officer named George Washington were on their way to protect Virginia’s fort builders. Washington defeated a small party of French soldiers near Great Meadows in western Pennsylvania on May 28, 1754. Then, on July 3, he was defeated by a larger French force at a hastily built shelter named Fort Necessity. Washington and his men surrendered, and the French allowed them to return to Virginia. However, they had done something of great importance. Without intending to, Washington and his men had begun a major war.

The French and Indian War was the last of the 18th century wars for empire. It was called the French and Indian War because the British fought mainly against the French and France’s Indian allies.

The Albany Congress
After George Washington’s defeat at Fort Necessity, the Board of Trade tried to prepare the colonists for war. It ordered a conference at Albany where representatives of 7 colonies met with 150 Iroquois leaders in June 1754. The representatives tried to convince the Iroquois to support the British in the war. They failed. The Iroquois had helped the British in the past, but they would not promise to take sides this time.

The colonial delegates agreed, however, on a plan of union proposed by Benjamin Franklin, an ingenious colonist from Philadelphia. Franklin’s plan, known as the “Albany Plan of Union”, was based in part on the Iroquois League. Colonial assemblies would send delegates to a council that would be responsible for Indian affairs and defense. Those issues concerned people in all the colonies.

When the delegates went home from Albany, they could not interest their colonies in Franklin’s plan, however. The British Crown was not interested either.

Braddock’s defeat
The British were discouraged by early battles in the French and Indian War. General Edward Braddock dragged tons of heavy cannon through the mountains toward Fort Duquesne. Unfortunately, he did not keep a good lookout for the enemy. On July 9, 1755, the French made a surprise attach on the British soldiers who were about 8 miles from Fort Duquesne. Braddock himself was among the hundreds of redcoats who died that day.

Pitt Takes Charge
The British faced one defeat after another until 1757. Then William Pitt became the king’s minister, and Britain’s situation changed. Pitt was a brilliant leader. He created a plan for crushing the French. First he had the British take Fort Louisbourg again. That gave them control of the St. Lawrence River. British troops also took Fort Duquesne, important for holding the West. In July 1959, the British captured Fort Niagara between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Once the British had Fort Niagara, the French were cut off from the entire Great Lakes area.

Pitt’s next target was Quebec. The British held posts to the east and to the west of Quebec. Pitt planned a twofold attack on the city. One group of soldiers would come up from New York, and another would come up the St. Lawrence.

The expedition from New York was stalled, and so the attack on Quebec was left to the British force coming up the St. Lawrence. It was led by General James Wolfe, a thin 30 year old with a sunken chin and a nasty temper. Wolfe, whoever, had proved himself a better officer than many older men. That was what mattered to Pitt, who hoped Wolfe would help him beat the French.

Montcalm and Wolfe
The French commander at Quebec was Louis Joseph, the Marquis de Montcalm. He was not worried when Wolfe arrived in June 1759. Quebec was high on a cliff above the St. Lawrence River, which made it easy to defend. Montcalm thought there was no way for the British to reach the city without being cut down by French guns.

Wolfe, however, was a daring soldier. After several other schemes failed, he managed to sneak his men up the river at night. They climbed up an undefended path to the Plains of Abraham, a field just west of the city. Then, on September 13, Montcalm awoke to find the enemy at hand. Four days later both Montcalm and Wolfe were dead, but Quebec was now a British city.

Wolfe’s great victory did not end the war. Montreal fell to the British the next year, and fighting continued for another three years in Europe. Yet, for all practical purposes, the fight over North America was decided in 1759 on the Plains of Abraham. When the French lost Quebec, they lost their empire in North America.

The Peace of Paris
In 1763, a peace treaty was signed at Paris. It gave Great Britain all of French North America east of the Mississippi except for the city of New Orleans. Spain, France’s ally in the war, had to give Florida to Britain. France then gave its territory west of the Mississippi and the city of New Orleans to Spain for its help in the war. The Peace of Paris brought the French North American empire to an end and pushed the western boundary of British North America from the Appalachians to the Mississippi.

The Effects of the Peace
The Peace of Paris changed the lives of all Americans. However, those most affected by it were the French and Spanish settlers and those Indians who suddenly found themselves under British rule.

Most French settlers decided to remain where they were. The British treated them well and allowed practice of the Catholic religion. On the other hand, most of the people in Spanish Florida fled to other Spanish colonies such as Cuba and Mexico. The first to go were former slaves who did not want to fall into the hands of their old owners in the British colonies.

The Indians who lived west of the Appalachians were also affected by the Peace of Paris. The French, they said, had no right to give their lands to the British. To win Indian cooperation during the war, the British had promised to respect Indian rights to the Ohio Country. However, British settlers soon began moving into lands that belonged to the Delaware and Iroquois Indians.

The British disturbed the Indians in other ways too. They raised the price of goods sold to the Indians. They refused to pay rents for posts on Indians lands or to give the Indians ammunition for hunting as the French ad done.

Pontiac’s Rebellion
Because of grievances against the British, Ottawa Indian leader Pontiac brought many Indian groups in the west – including the Ottawa, Huron, Chippewa, Seneca, Miami, and Delaware – into a large alliance. In May 1763, these allied groups began a war against the British that is known as Pontiac’s Rebellion.

The Indians seized most of the old French forts in the West, which were now held by the British. They killed some 2,000 settlers along the Virginia and Pennsylvania frontier before they were defeated by British troops.

The British government tried to stop clashes between the colonists and the Indians by its Proclamation of 1763. It said that the lands between the Appalachians and the Mississippi were reserved for the Indians. No settlers could enter those lands, and any settlers already there were told they had to move to the eastern side of the Appalachians.

Pontiacs Rebellion was put down soon after the proclamation was issued. The Indians had tried their strength against the British and lost. Their future did not look promising.

The British Colonists
Only the British colonists of North America had reason to celebrate in 1763. Now that the French and Spanish were gone, they could hope to live at last in peace. In short, the war seemed to open a new era in the lives of the British colonists in North America. Never before had the colonists been more confident of the future or prouder of being British.