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The French And Indian War

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In July 1755, a few miles south of Fort Duquesne, now Pittsburg where the Alegheny and Monongahela rivers meet, a combined force of French and Indians ambushed British and colonial troops. This catastrophe was to ultimately become the starting point of the French and Indian War. During the "Seven Years War", as the French and Indian War is commonly called, there were wins and losses on both sides, but ultimately the British were victorious with the help of William Pitt. However, the War caused England many economic, political, and ideological tribulations with the American colonists.

In response to a French threat to England's western frontiers, delegates from seven northern and middle colonies gathered in Albany, New York, in June 1754. With the patronage of administers in London, they sought two goals: to persuade the Iroquois to abandon their traditional neutrality and to coordinate the defenses of the colonies. This Albany Congress succeeded in neither. While the Albany Congress representatives deliberated, Governor Robert Dinwiddie of Virginia sent a small military force westward to counter the French moves. Virginia claimed ownership of Ohio, and Governor Dinwiddie hoped to prevent the French from founding their permanent post there. However, the militia group was too late, for the French were already constructing Fort Duquesne at the strategic point where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers meet. George Washington was twenty-two and commanded the Virginian militia who attacked a French detachment and eventually surrendered after a day-long battle during which more than one-third of his men were killed or wounded. Washington had made a huge mistake that would eventually set of a war that would encompass nearly the entire world.

"America, mayest well rejoice, the Children of New England may be glad and triumph" (Doc. E). Led by William Pitt, a civilian official that was placed in charge of the war effort in 1757, Britain pursued a military strategy that was lacking in the years prior. In July 1758, British forces recaptured the fortress at Louisburg, cutting off the major French supply route. In a spectacular attack in 1759, General James Wolfe's soldiers defeated the French on the Plains of Abraham and took Quebec. A year later the British captured Montreal, which was the last French stronghold on the continent, which ended the American phase of the war. In the Treaty of Paris, France ceded its major North American holdings to Britain. Thus the British ultimately gained control of the continents fur trade after the French relinquished Louisiana to Spain for partial compensation for its ally's losses. The English seacoast colonies would no longer need to worry about the threat of their existence posed by France's extensive North American territories. {See Map (Doc. A)} However, with the sweets come the sour.

The great victory over France had an irreversible impact on North America. An uprising lead by Pontiac, a war chief from the Ottawa village, showed Great Britain that the vast territory recently acquired from France was not easy to govern. With no experience managing such a huge area, London officials issued the Proclamation of 1763 in October which stated that the headwaters of rivers flowing into the Atlantic from the Appalachian Mountains would be the temporary western boundary for colonial settlement. Intended to prevent clashes by forbidding colonists to move onto Indian lands it quickly became an unenforceable policy that was doomed to failure. Other issues such as economic problems and political challenges arose rapidly after the Seven Year War.




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