THE SITUATION IN 1754. - The French were now in armed possession of the Ohio valley. Their chain of forts bounded the British colonies from Lake Champlain to Fort Duquesne. Unless they were dislodged, all hope of colonial expansion westward was ended. To dislodge them meant war, and the certainty of war led to a serious attempt to unite the colonies.

By order of the Lords of Trade, a convention of delegates from the colonies [1] was held at Albany to secure by treaty and presents the friendship of the Six Nations of Indians; it would not do to let those powerful tribes go over to the French in the coming war. After treating with the Indians, the convention proceeded to consider the question whether all the colonies could not be united for defense and for the protection of their interests.

FRANKLIN'S PLAN OF UNION. - One of the delegates was Benjamin Franklin. In his newspaper, the Philadelphia Gazette, he had urged union, and he had put this device [2] at the top of an account of the capture of the Ohio fort (afterward Duquesne) by the French. At the convention he submitted a plan of union calling for a president general and a grand council of representatives from the colonies to meet each year. They were to make treaties with the Indians, regulate the affairs of the colonies as a whole, levy taxes, build forts, and raise armies. The convention adopted the plan, but both the colonial legislatures and the Lords of Trade in London rejected it. [3]

THE FIVE POINTS OF ATTACK. - The French held five strongholds, which shut the British out of New France and Louisiana, and threatened the English colonies.

1. Louisburg threatened New England and Nova Scotia.

2. Quebec controlled the St. Lawrence.

3. Crown Point (and later Ticonderoga), on Lake Champlain, guarded the water route to New York and threatened the Hudson valley.

4. Niagara guarded the portage between Lakes Ontario and Erie, and threatened New York on the west.

5. Fort Duquesne controlled the Ohio and threatened Pennsylvania and Virginia.

The plan of the British was to strengthen their hold on Nova Scotia (Acadia), and to attack three of the French strongholds - Crown Point, Niagara, and Fort Duquesne - at the same time.

ACADIA. - Late in May, 1755, therefore, an expedition set sail from Boston, made its way up the Bay of Fundy, captured the French forts at the head of that bay, reduced all Acadia to British rule, and tendered the oath of allegiance to the French Acadians. This they refused to take, whereupon they were driven on board ships at the point of the bayonet and carried off and distributed among the colonies. [4]

CROWN POINT. - The army against Crown Point, composed of troops from the four New England colonies and New York, gathered at Albany, and Forts in northern New York, under command of William Johnson [5] marched to the head of Lake George, where it beat the French under Dieskau (dees'kou), and built Fort William Henry; but it did not reach Crown Point.

NIAGARA. - A third army, under General Shirley of Massachusetts, likewise set out from Albany, and pushing across New York reached Oswego, when all thought of attacking Niagara was abandoned. News had come of the crushing defeat of Braddock.

BRADDOCK'S DEFEAT. - Under the belief that neither colonial officers nor colonial troops were of much account, the mother country at the opening of the war sent over Edward Braddock, one of her best officers, and two regiments of regulars. Brad-dock came to Virginia, appointed Washington one of his aids, and having gathered some provincial troops, set off from Fort Cumberland in Maryland for Fort Duquesne. The country to be traversed was a wilderness. No road led through the woods, so the troops were forced to cut one as they went slowly westward (map, p. 144).

On July 9, 1755, when some eight miles from Fort Duquesne, those in the van suddenly beheld what seemed to be an Indian coming toward them, but was really a French officer with a band of French and Indians at his back. The moment he saw the British he stopped and waved his hat in the air, whereupon his followers disappeared in the bushes and opened fire. The British returned the fire and stood their ground manfully, but as they could not see their foe, while their scarlet coats afforded a fine target, they were shot down by scores, lost heart, huddled together, and when at last Brad-dock was forced to order a retreat, broke and fled. [6]

Braddock was wounded just as the retreat began, and died as the army was hurrying back to Fort Cumberland, and lest the Indians should find his grave, he was buried in the road, and all traces of the grave were obliterated by the troops and wagons passing over it. From Fort Cumberland the British marched to Philadelphia, and the whole frontier was left to the mercy of the French and Indians.

FRENCH VICTORIES. - War parties were sent out from Fort Duquesne in every direction, settlement after settlement was sacked, and before November the Indians were burning, plundering, massacring, scalping within eighty miles of Philadelphia. During the two following years (1756-57), the French were all energy and activity, and the British were hard pressed. [7] Oswego and Fort William Henry were captured, [8] and the New York frontier was ravaged by the French.

BRITISH VICTORIES (1758). - And now the tide turned. William Pitt, one of the great Englishmen of his day, was placed at the head of public affairs in Great Britain, and devoted himself with all his energy to the conduct of the war. He chose better commanders, infused enthusiasm into men and officers alike, and the result was a series of victories. A fleet of frigates and battleships, with an army of ten thousand men, captured Louisburg. Three thousand provincials in open boats crossed Lake Ontario, took Fort Frontenac, and thus cut communication between Quebec and the Ohio. A third expedition, under Forbes and Washington, marched slowly across Pennsylvania, to find Fort Duquesne in ruins and the French gone. [9]

VICTORIES OF 1759. - Two of the five strongholds (Louisburg and Fort Duquesne) were now under the British flag, and the next year (1759) the three others met a like fate. An expedition under Prideaux (prid'o) and Sir William Johnson captured Fort Niagara; an army under Amherst took Ticonderoga and Crown Point; and a fleet and army led by Wolfe, a young officer distinguished at Louisburg, took Quebec.

QUEBEC, 1759. - The victory at Quebec was the greatest of the war. The fortress was the strongest in America, and stood on the crest of a high cliff which rose from the waters of the St. Lawrence. The French commander, Montcalm, was a brave and able soldier. But one night in September, 1759, the British general, Wolfe, led his army up the steep cliff west of the city, and in the morning formed in battle array on the Plains of Abraham. A great battle followed. Both Wolfe and Montcalm were killed; but the British won, and Quebec has ever since been under their flag. Montreal fell the next year (1760), and Canada was conquered. [10]

SPAIN CEDES FLORIDA TO GREAT BRITAIN. - In the spring of 1761, France made proposals of peace; but while the negotiation was under way, Spain allied herself with France, and was soon dragged into the war. The British thereupon captured Havana and Manila (1762), and thus became for a short time masters of Cuba and the Philippines. A few weeks later preliminary articles of peace were signed (November, 1762), and the final (or definitive) treaty in 1763. Spain ceded Florida to Great Britain in return for Cuba. News of the capture of the Philippines was not received till after the preliminary treaty was signed; the islands were therefore returned without any equivalent. [11]

THE FRENCH QUIT AMERICA. - By the treaties of 1762 and 1763 France withdrew from America.

To Great Britain were ceded (1) all of New France (or Canada), Cape Breton Island, and all the near-by islands save two small ones near Newfoundland, and (2) all of Louisiana east of the Mississippi save the city of New Orleans and a little territory above and below the city.

To recompense Spain for her loss in the war, France ceded to her New Orleans and the neighboring territory, and all of Louisiana west of the Mississippi.

THE PROVINCE OF QUEBEC. - The acquisition of New France made it necessary for Great Britain to provide for its government. To do this she drew a line about the part inhabited by whites, and established the province of Quebec. The south boundary of the new province should be carefully observed, for it became the northern boundary of New York and New England.

THE PROCLAMATION LINE. - The proclamation which created the province of Quebec also drew a line "beyond the sources of the rivers which flow into the Atlantic from the west and northwest": beyond this line no governor of any of the colonies was to grant land. This meant that the king cut off the claims to western lands set forth in the charters of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Virginia, Carolina, and Georgia. The territory so cut off was for the present to be reserved for the Indians.

THE PROVINCES OF EAST AND WEST FLORIDA. - The proclamation of 1763 also created two other provinces. One called East Florida was so much of the present state of Florida as lies east of the Apalachicola River. West Florida was all the territory received from Spain west of the Apalachicola. [12]

To Georgia was annexed the territory between the St. Marys River, the proclamation line, and the Altamaha.

THE FRONTIER. - British settlements did not yet reach the Allegheny Mountains. In New York they extended a short distance up the Mohawk River. In Pennsylvania the little town of Bedford, in Maryland Fort Cumberland, and in Virginia the Allegheny Mountains marked the frontier (p. 144).

THE WILDERNESS ROUTES AND FORTS. - Through the wilderness lying beyond the frontier ran several lines of forts intended to protect routes of communication. Thus in New York the route up the Mohawk to Oneida Lake and down Oswego River to Lake Ontario was protected by Forts Stanwix, Brewerton, and Oswego. From Fort Oswego the route continued by water to Fort Niagara at the mouth of the river of that name, then along the Niagara River and by Lake Erie to Presque Isle, then by land to Fort Le Boeuf, then by river to Fort Pitt.

From Fort Pitt two roads led back to the frontier. One leading to the Potomac valley was that cut from Fort Cumberland by Braddock (in 1755) and known as Braddock's Road. The other to Bedford on the Pennsylvania frontier was cut by General Forbes (in 1758).

Along the shores of the Great Lakes were a few forts built by the French and now held by the British. These were Sandusky, Detroit, Mackinaw, and St. Joseph.

PONTIAC'S WAR. - Between this chain of forts and the Mississippi River, in the region given up by France, lived many tribes of Indians, old friends of the French and bitter enemies of the British. The old enmity was kept aflame by the French Canadians, who still carried on the fur trade with the Indians. [13]

When, therefore, Pontiac, a chief of the Ottawas, in 1762 sent out among the Indian nations ambassadors with the war belt of wampum, and tomahawks stained red in token of war, the tribes everywhere responded to the call. [14] From the Ohio and its tributaries to the upper lakes, and southward to the mouth of the Mississippi, they banded against the British, and early in 1763, led by Pontiac, swept down on the frontier forts. Detroit was attacked, Presque Isle was captured, Le Boeuf and Venango were burned to the ground, Fort Pitt was besieged, and the frontier of Pennsylvania laid waste. Of fourteen posts from Mackinaw to Oswego, all but four were taken by the Indians. It seemed that not a settler would be left west of the Susquehanna; but a little army under Colonel Bouquet beat the Indians, cleared the Pennsylvania frontier, and relieved Fort Pitt in 1763; another army in 1764 passed along the lake shore to Detroit and quieted the Indians in that region, while Bouquet (1764) invaded the Ohio country, forced the tribes to submit, and released two hundred white prisoners.


1. The war which followed the defeat of Washington is known as the French and Indian War.

2. Fearing that the French Acadians in Nova Scotia would become troublesome, the British dispersed them among the colonies.

3. The strongholds of the French were Louisburg, Quebec, Crown Point, Niagara, and Fort Duquesne.

4. The first expedition against Fort Duquesne ended in Braddock's defeat; expeditions against other strongholds came to naught, and during the early years of the war the French carried everything before them.

5. But when Pitt rose to power in England, the tide turned: Louisburg and Fort Duquesne were captured (in 1758); Niagara, Ticonderoga, Crown Point, and Quebec were taken (in 1759); and Montreal fell in 1760.

6. Spain now joined in the war, whereupon Great Britain seized Cuba and the Philippines.

7. Peace was made in 1762-63: the conquests from Spain were restored to her, but Florida was ceded to Great Britain; and France gave up her possessions in North America.

8. Canada, Cape Breton, and all Louisiana east of the Mississippi, save New Orleans and vicinity, went to Great Britain.

9. New Orleans and Louisiana west of the Mississippi went to Spain.

10. Great Britain then established the new provinces of Quebec and East and West Florida, and drew the Proclamation Line.

11. A great Indian uprising, known as Pontiac's War, followed the peace, but was quickly put down.


[1] New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland were the only colonies represented.

[2] There was an old superstition that if a snake were cut into pieces and the pieces allowed to touch, they would join and the snake would not die. Franklin meant that unless the separate colonies joined they would be conquered.

[3] Franklin was born in Boston in 1706, the youngest son in a family of seventeen children. He went to work in his father's candle shop when ten years old. He was fond of reading, and by saving what little money he could secure, bought a few books and read them thoroughly. When twelve, he was bound apprentice to a brother who was a printer. At seventeen he ran away to Philadelphia, where he found work in a printing office, and in 1729 owned a newspaper of his own, which soon became the best and most entertaining in the colonies. His most famous publication is Poor Richard's Almanac. To this day the proverbs and common sense sayings of Poor Richard are constantly quoted. Franklin was a good citizen: he took part in the founding of the first public library in Philadelphia, the formation of the first fire engine company, and the organization of the first militia, and he persuaded the authorities to light and pave streets and to establish a night watch. He is regarded as the founder of the University of Pennsylvania. Franklin was also a man of science. He discovered that lightning is electricity, invented the lightning rod, and wrote many scientific papers. He served in the legislature of Pennsylvania, and was made postmaster general for the colonies. All these things occurred before 1754.

[4] About six thousand were carried off. Nowhere were they welcome. Some who were taken to Boston made their way to Canada. Such as reached South Carolina and Georgia were given leave to return; but seven little boatloads were stopped at Boston. Others reached Louisiana, where their descendants still live. A few succeeded in returning to Acadia. Do not fail to read Longfellow's poem Evangeline, a beautiful story founded on this removal of the Acadians. Was it necessary to remove the Acadians? Read Parkman's Montcalm and Wolfe, Vol. I, pp. 234-241, 256-266, 276- 284; read also "The Old French War," Part ii, Chap, viii, in Hawthorne's Grandfather's Chair.

[5] William Johnson was born in Ireland in 1715, and came to America in 1738 to take charge of his uncle's property in the Mohawk valley. He settled about twenty miles west of Schenectady, and engaged in the Indian trade. He dealt honestly with the Indians, learned their language, attended their feasts, and, tomahawk in hand, danced their dances in Indian dress. He even took as his wife a sister of Brant, a Mohawk chief. So great was his influence with the Indians that in 1746 he was made Commissary of New York for Indian Affairs. In 1750 he was made a member of the provincial Council, went to the Albany convention in 1754, and later was appointed a major general. After the expedition against Crown Point he was knighted and made Superintendent of Indian Affairs in North America. He died in 1774.

[6] It is sometimes said that Braddock fell into an ambuscade. This is a mistake. He was surprised because he did not send scouts ahead of his army; but the Indians were not in ambush. Braddock would not permit the troops to fight in Indian fashion from behind trees and bushes, but forced his men to form in platoons. A part of the regulars who tried to fight behind trees Braddock beat with his sword and forced into line. Some Virginians who sought shelter behind a huge fallen tree were mistaken for the enemy and fired on. In the fight and after it Washington was most prominent. Twice a horse was shot under him. Four bullets passed through his clothes. When the retreat began, he rallied the fugitives, and brought off the wounded Braddock.

[7] War between France and Great Britain was declared in May, 1756. In Europe it was known as the Seven Years' War; in America as the French and Indian. On the side of France were Russia and Austria. On the side of Great Britain was Frederick the Great of Prussia. The fighting went on not only in America, but in the West Indies, on the European Continent, in the Mediterranean, and in India.

[8] When the colonial troops surrendered Fort William Henry, the French commander, Montcalm, agreed that they should return to their homes in safety. But the Indians, maddened by liquor, massacred a large number, and carried off some six hundred prisoners. Montcalm finally secured the release of some four hundred. Cooper's novel The Last of the Mohicans treats of the war about Lake George.

[9] Instead of using the road cut by Braddock, Forbes chose another route, (map, p. 144), and spent much time in road making. Late in September he was still fifty miles from Fort Duquesne, and decided to go into winter quarters. But the French attacked Forbes and were beaten; and from some prisoners Forbes learned that the garrison at Fort Duquesne was weak. A picked force of men, with Washington and his Virginians in the lead, then hurried forward, and reached the fort to find it abandoned. A new stockade was built near by, and named Fort Pitt, and the place was named Pittsburg.

[10] Read Parkman's Montcalm and Wolfe, Vol. II, pp. 280-297. The fall of Quebec is treated in fiction in Gilbert Parker's Seats of the Mighty.

[11] When Manila was captured, all private property was saved from plunder by the promise of a ransom of £1,000,000. One half was paid in money, and the rest in bills on the Spanish treasury. Spain never paid these bills.

[12] The north boundary was the parallel of 31°; but in 1764 West Florida was enlarged, and the north boundary became the parallel of latitude that passes through the mouth of the Yazoo River.

[13] They told the Indians that the British would soon be driven out, and that the Mississippi River and Canada would again be in French hands; that the British were trying to destroy the Indian race, and for this purpose were building forts and making settlements.

[14] Read Parkman's Conspiracy of Pontiac; Kirk Munroe's At War with Pontiac.