The following deals with events, conflicts, and people during 1608-1763.
DISCLAIMER: This does NOT serve as a replacement for reading Chapter 6.
(In movie trailer voice) In a world without liberty, three countries wage an endless war that knew no end. Boys became men in the struggle to survive. This is… The Four World Wars that Happened Centuries Before World War I.
All throughout the 1500s, France was devastated by religious wars between Catholics and Protestants. With the Edict of Nantes, the Catholics finally granted tolerance to the Protestants in 1598 and soon France was the most feared country in Europe. They led the charge into North America with the settlement of Quebec in 1608. Samuel de Champlain headed the settlement, got friendly with the native Hurons, and helped them defeat the Iroquois, who would later resent the French and take up arms against them.
After a few commercial groups failed in Quebec, King Louis XIV took over and the people there had absolutely no rights. The population stagnated at 60,000, as peasants were already well-off back in France and Huguenot Protestants weren’t allowed to escape to Quebec. Also, Canada was full of snow and made little profit. The sugar-laced islands of the West Indies was where it was at.
However, there was a silver lining: the beaver, whose fur would fetch top dollar back in Europe. Fur-trappers, called coureurs de bois, meaning ‘runners of the woods’, drank, swore, and smoked a lot. So they were basically high-schoolers. Indians teamed up with the French, though killing the sacred beaver was against their beliefs. The whiteman’s diseases and alcohol would kill them off fast. Tracking the beaver would lead them from Manitoba all the way down to Texas. Jesuits tried to convert the Indians, but most ended up being tortured.
Famed explorer Antoine Cadillac founded ‘The D’ in 1701 to rub in the English settlers’ faces. A few decades earlier in 1682, Robert de La Salle took over Louisiana and named it in honor of Louie XIV. They would continue to occupy the Gulf by setting up a major fort in New Orleans in 1718. The Spanish were getting nowhere close to their empire. The Illinois fields supplied the French Empire. Don’t you love these little facts that are meaningless?!
The first contests for conquest in North America came with King William’s War (1689-1697) and Queen Anne’s War (1702-1713). In both wars, English colonists fought against French courewhatevers and both sides tried to get as many Indians to help as possible. Both countries didn’t see the warfare as a big deal and sent no national armies. The French ravaged Schenectady, NY and Deerfield, MA while ally Spain destroyed parts of South Carolina. But, ha ha, the joke was them when in 1713, a peace treaty was signed and Britain was awarded Nova Scotia, known as Acadia, and Newfoundland.
With their new acquisition, Britain kicked back, relaxed, and forgot all about the Americans. But after an English captain’s ear was chopped off, Spain and England were at war again. The War of Jenkins’s Ear began in 1739 and mainly took place in the Caribbean and Georgia, where Oglethorpe crushed the Spanish. For some crazy reason, the war morphed into King George’s War after it was combined with the Austrian Succession. The French joined the Spanish again, though it wouldn’t matter when the English Navy captured Louisbourg, a huge French fort, in 1745.
But because the English were so backasswards, they gave the fort back in 1748, only for it to be re-captured ten years later.
Among the most pivotal spots in the New World, none rivaled the Ohio Valley. The French built up forts there, in hopes of keeping its empire on the Mississippi alive while the Brits simply wanted to secure their way of life. A young George Washington, whose family owned some land in the Valley, was pushed into the limelight of history when his men started the French and Indian War. They had come upon some French troops, killed their leader, though later had to surrender after being pinned into a hastily-made fort.
The British feared betrayal from the Acadians in Nova Scotia and sent them packing in 1755. Most of them went to New Orleans, where their decedents, called ‘cajuns’, still live today.
Started by Washington, the Seven Years’ War would be fought not only in America, but also in Europe, Africa, and on the seven seas. It was Britain and Prussia (Germany) against France, Spain, Austria, and Russia. The French got walloped by German forces, led by Frederick the Great, whom the Brits gave gold in place of supporting troops. The French were unable to send a lot of troops to the New World, where most colonists didn’t care about the war unless it was happening in their backyard.
In 1754, delegates and the Iroquois tribe met in Albany to secure the latter group’s loyalty. Many gifts were given. Ben Franklin also presented a plan for colonial home-rule, which he and his fellow delegates loved, but the individual states and the crown abhorred. The colony thought it too little independence and the crown, too much. Franklin observed that everyone wanted a union, but got caught up in the details.
British forces would’ve liked to forget the first battles of the French and Indian War. General Braddock’s quest to capture Fort Duquesene went sour when his men came upon French and Indian troops and were almost massacred. George Washington, who was among them, received a few bullet holes in his coat, but was fine afterwards. PHEW. That was a close one. Encouraged, Indian forces led relentless attacks, which were met by Washington, trying to avenge the death of Braddock. Then, for no good reason, the British invaded Canada in 1756, got their asses kicked, and continued their losing streak.
William Pitt, known as the ‘Great Commoner’, soon emerged from the shadows, and in 1757, took a prominent role in British government. His plan was to concentrate on Montreal and Quebec and hire new, younger minds in place of the older ones. After a huge naval victory in 1758 at Louisbourg, everyone went crazy. It was the first victory in the war. James Wolfe was picked to head the attack on Quebec in 1759. He and his men snuck into the city under the cloak of night and when morning arrived, captured the city. Alas, he was mortally wounded.
Montreal would later fall in 1760 and by the time of the Paris peace talks in 1763 (Is it just me or do peace talks always occur in Paris?!), France no longer held land in North America. France would be allowed a few small West Indie islands, which weren’t to be fortified. Spain got Mississippi and Louisiana and gave up Florida to the Brits in exchange for Cuba. Great Britain was suddenly master of the seven seas.
Back in America, things weren’t so great. While fighting in the FIW, no American was allowed above the rank of captain, which was a pimp slap across the face of Colonel George Washington, whose dick we cannot seem to hop off of. During the FIW, Americans shipped food to enemy ports in the Caribbean to keep them from starving and turn a profit. Big Brother Britain didn’t like that. Also, though most colonies demanded British rights, they didn’t want British responsibilities, which included providing money and troops for the war effort. Finally, the dreamy William Pitt sent over over some cold, hard cash and the colonists were willing to ease up a little.
The FIW changed the disunity in the colonies. Men from far and wide got together, had a talk, and saw that they weren’t so different. Same language. Same common interests. Suddenly, everyone had the hots for each other.
In the aftermath of the FIW, France, Spain, and the Indians all had their empires reduced greatly if not wiped out altogether. Spain only had the vast area from Texas to California while the Indians could no longer play the European nations off one another– they could only negotiate with the Brits. After Chief Pontiac’s attempt to invade Detroit ended in some 2,000 deaths, the Brits realized it time to make peace with all western Indians. Back across the Valley, Daniel Boone, among many others, greedily climbed the Appalachians and wandered into new land.
But just when Boone was getting settled, London’s Proclamation of 1763 prohibited settlement pass the mountains. It was done to keep the Indians at bay, but it only made tensions in colonies soar. In 1765, thousands of wagons rolled through North Carolina, heading west. ‘Screw them Brits,’ they yelled.
The FIW did one last thing: it readied the colonists for independence. The birthrate was high. The path had been cleared. Meanwhile, the Brits were unnerved by the colonists. The stage for a violent struggle was set.