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War Timeline

 

The French and Indian War ultimately sparked the American Revolution, and this timeline tracks the events that formed America from 1753 through 1776. The perspectives of the British, French, American Indians, and Colonists are presented with the events – capturing the struggle for an empire and the desire for independence.

 

1753

 

France and Great Britain vie for the Ohio Valley French troops from Canada march south to seize and fortify the Ohio Valley. Britain protests the invasion and claims Ohio for itself.

Governor Dinwiddie sends Major George Washington to warn the French to leave the region.

French Point of View

Trade is everything Trade with the American Indians is the basis of France’s North American economy, and they think British trade and settlements are encroaching on this.  In order to protect the Ohio Valley for trade, the French build forts in the valley to try to expel British traders. 

British Point of View

Land is opportunity The British colonies in America are growing fast, and to them, land means wealth and opportunity.  British settlers want to settle the Ohio Valley, and seek more farmland, in addition to lucrative trade with the Indians.

Indian Point of View

A lifestyle to protect The American Indians had a strong trading relationship with the French, and also traded with the British.  In addition to wanting to maintain their way of life in the Ohio Valley, the Indians had become dependent on European goods like weapons, rum, metal tools and cloth, and needed to protect their trade relationships.

1754

 

May

French and Indian War begins Ensign de Jumonville and a third of his escort are killed by a British patrol led by George Washington and aided by Half-King, an Iroquois.

French Point of View

An act of war Jumonville and his escort were on a diplomatic mission when Washington’s patrol fired on them. And when Half-King killed Jumonville, the French had to respond – the British and their Indian counterparts had murdered a French officer.

British Point of View

A naïve and ambitious young Washington George Washington was only 22 when he led the patrol into Pennsylvania backcountry.  He was unaware of Half-King’s agenda, and when his Indian ally killed a wounded enemy, the action called for war.

Indian Point of View

Taking advantage of a bad situation Half-King was not fighting the war for the British – he had his own interests to protect, as well as those of his people.  He killed Jumonville to avenge his people’s humiliation at having their land agreements with the British encroached upon by the French.

July

Battle of Fort Necessity The French and the Indians defeat the British at Fort Necessity. Washington surrenders after losing one-third of his force.

French Point of View

Avenging the death of Jumonville The French and their Indian allies fought guerilla-style, firing on the British and their small fort from the woods.  Not only did they want to cement their hold at the forks of the Ohio, but they were also seeking retribution for the death of Jumonville.

British Point of View

Washington gets his first defeat Surrounded by the French and Indians, the British had no choice but to surrender.  Washington signed a surrender document that was written in French, and mistakenly admitted to the assassination of Jumonville – embarrassing himself and the Crown.

Indian Point of View

Half-King picks his battles Fort Necessity was just a little thing upon the meadow – there was no way that the British would be able to make a stand against the French. Half-King and his warriors abandon the British cause, realizing that the Crown doesn’t stand a chance.

1755

 

June

Acadians expelled from Nova Scotia British troops, commanded by Colonel Robert Monckton, capture Fort Beauséjour enabling the plan to expel Acadians from Nova Scotia to begin.

French Point of View

French Catholics lose way of life The Acadians had lived in Nova Scotia for over 100 years, but the British emptied and burned whole villages of the French Catholics and herded them to the coast. Within three years, 10,000 Acadians were spread throughout the British colonies.

BritishPoint of View

Ethnic cleansing in the new world The British wanted to split up the large concentration of French Catholics who lived in Nova Scotia.  The French-speaking settlers were a threat to British domination, and they had to extricate them to ensure their fragile foothold in Canada.

July

Braddock defeated at Battle of Monongahela, dies British troops commanded by Major General Edward Braddock are defeated in the Battle of the Monongahela. Braddock is mortally wounded.

French Point of View

What works in the woods The French and Indians controlled the British objective – the land at the forks of three rivers.  Although the large British force would’ve overpowered the fort, the French moved the battle into the woods – giving their guerilla-style warfare the clear advantage.

British Point of View

Braddock’s fatal mistake

Braddock has little respect for the Indians who could have been his allies.  He even forbids the colonial soldiers from fighting Indian-style.  Thinking that a war in the Americas would be fought like those in Europe was perhaps Braddock’s gravest mistake.

Indian Point of View

Seeking respect and solidarity The French owed the win to their Indian counterparts.  At first hesitant, the Indians are convinced to join the ranks of the French when De Beaujeu paints his face and dons native dress as a gesture of solidarity – something Braddock would never do.

September

Stalemate at Fort William Henry British troops commanded by William Johnson stop the French advance at Lake George.  British ally Mohawk Chief Hendricks is killed.

French Point of View

A hasty retreat

Kept at bay by the British defense, the French are forced to retreat.  However, the best the British could do was secure their position – Lake George would remain the front line between the two empires for the next four years.

British Point of View

An attempt at alliance

William Johnson and Chief Hendricks were good friends – they respected each other’s cultures.  Johnson tries to build alliances with the American Mohawk to stop the French advance.

Indian Point of View

The cost of a white man’s war

The Iroquois don’t like prospect of spilling Indian blood for a white man’s war.  Only Hendricks and 200 Mohawk agree to fight with the British.  As the skirmish begins, Canadian Mohawk fighting with the French attempt to warn Hendricks’s Mohawk.

1756

 

World at war The Seven Years’ War begins as Great Britain declares war on France, expanding the North American conflict to Europe, Africa, Asia and South America.

1757

 

French capture Fort William Henry, British massacred The French, led by Montcalm, capture Fort William Henry.   Following the surrender, Montcalm’s actions anger his Indian allies who capture or kill hundreds of unarmed British.

French Point of View

The “savage” threat The French surrounded Fort William Henry, and threatened the British with the atrocities that the Indians were capable of.  Montcalm did not like the savage manner in which the Indians made war, and arranged the terms of surrender to suit European conventions.

British POV

A “generous” surrender General Monroe was surrounded by the French and tried to arrange the best terms of surrender possible.  His forces were able to retreat with their belongings, but the generous terms of surrender were at the expense of the Indians.

Indian Point of View

A European conspiracy? The terms of surrender didn’t take into consideration the efforts of the Indians.  Many had died fighting with the French, and expected to return home with the spoils of war. They attacked the British as they retreated from the fort to reclaim their spoils of war.

1758

 

March

Pitt changes colonial policy British Secretary of State William Pitt recalls Lord Loudon and implements cooperative policies toward colonial legislatures to receive more colonial support for the war.

American Point of View

Seeking equality as subjects The American colonists feared the war would bankrupt their government and infringe upon their rights.  They saw themselves as full-fledged subjects of the king, but often felt like they were treated as inferiors by the Crown.  The arrival of Pitt helped win back their support.

July

British capture Fort Louisbourg, tide shifts British capture the French fortress at Louisbourg, opening the St. Lawrence River and the water route to Canada.

French Point of View

Losing Canada? The French are in danger of losing Canada to the British.  The British and colonial forces laid siege to the fort for six weeks, and destroyed the last of France’s battleships in Canada.

British Point of View

Making headway The tide finally turned toward the British at Fort Louisbourg, as the British finally had a firm foothold in Canada.

August

French lose Fort Fontenac, supplies in jeopardy British capture Fort Fontenac, effectively cutting off all supplies to the French forts in the Ohio River Valley and further west.

French Point of View

Supplies in peril Surprised by a sneak attack from colonial forces, the French have no choice but to surrender.  It was an extremely costly loss for the French – Fontenac was the French supply base for the entire upper country.

American POV

Proving themselves to the Crown General Bradstreet and his soldiers – mostly colonial fighters from the north – devised a sneak attack on Fontenac in the hopes of not only rooting the French out of Canada, but also to prove to the Crown that colonial soldiers were capable of getting the job done.

October

Treaty of Easton signed The Treaty of Easton is signed with the Six Nations. The British promised no new settlements west of the Alleghenies in return for neutrality in the war and the release of prisoners.

British Point of View

Indian support necessary to win The British finally learned that in order to win the war, they would have to build an alliance with the Indians.  Thus, they sent diplomats to the Iroquois nations to help gain the Indian’s support for their push toward Fort Duquesne.

Indian Point of View

Coming to terms with British Indians in the Ohio Valley were starving and suffering from disease.  In order to feed their people and keep their land, the Indians came to terms with the British, realizing it may be the only way to survive, even if the British had swindled them in the past.

American Point of View

Settlers want to move west American colonists are fighting the French and Indian War partly for the right to settle in the disputed Ohio country.  Regardless of the Treaty of Easton, settlers head to the backcountry, considering the treaty a “local agreement” that does not affect their land claims.

November

British take Fort Duquesne French abandon Fort Duquesne and the British take control of the Forks of the Ohio.   Brigadier General John Forbes establishes a British fort, Fort Pitt.

French Point of View

Losing the three rivers The French realize quickly that they are outnumbered by British, Indian, and colonial forces. They destroy Fort Duquesne and retreat to Canada, giving up their pivotal stronghold at the forks of the Ohio River.
British Point of View

Forbes accomplishes his mission The British finally control the piece of land that Braddock failed to capture years ago – this time, without firing a shot.  By winning over the Indians, the British are on the way to building the largest empire since Roman times.

Indian Point of View

Hoping for the best Because of the British win and the Treaty of Easton, it seemed like peace and dominion over the land west of the Alleghenies might be in reach.

1759

 

July

French lose Fort Niagara British, helped by Iroquois allies, defeat the French at Fort Niagara.

French Point of View

Low on needed resources Corrupt officials are bleeding the North American war effort dry, leaving few supplies for the soldiers and gifts for the Indians.  To make matters worse, the costly war effort in Europe is failing, and Montcalm’s pleas for reinforcements are not being met by the king.

British Point of View

Close to capturing Canada British victories along the St. Lawrence River have finally made France’s stronghold on Canada vulnerable, and they intend to take advantage of the opportunity by gaining the support of the Iroquois.

Indian Point of View

War takes toll on Indians War has taken a terrible toll on the Indians.  In addition to the loss of loved ones and hunger, smallpox is decimating entire villages.  And now, without needed gifts from the French, the Indians will have to make peace with the British for their survival.

September French surrender Québec, Montcalm dies The French surrender Québec after a battle outside the city on the Plains of Abraham. Both French commander Montcalm and British commander Wolfe are mortally wounded.

French Point of View

A nearly impenetrable city The French position within the city of Québec is nearly impenetrable due to the area’s steep cliffs and waterways.  The French would have to be lured outside of the city in order to be engaged in a battle – exactly what happened with Wolfe’s sneak attack.

British Point of View

Preparing a sneak attack After surrounding the city of Quebec for three months, Wolfe had to find a way to make the city fall, or else winter would set in and his efforts would be lost.  He prepares a sneak attack on the Plains of Abraham, after shelling the city of Québec and burning 1,400 houses outside of the city to no avail.

1760

 

British win Canada, war in North America ends The British capture Montreal, ending the French and the British conflict in North America. The fighting continues in other parts of the world for three more years.

French Point of View

French meet defeat After the French lost the battle of Montreal, General Amherst intends to force the French officers to turn over their flags – but many soldiers burn their colors rather than hand them to the British as trophies.

British Point of View

Indians are subjects, not partners Even though the Indians were extremely influential in winning the war, General Amherst despises the so-called “savages” and intends to treat them as servants to the British masters, rather than partners in North America.

Indian Point of View
Indians tip the balance in favor of British Once the Iroquois league broke 50 years of neutrality by aligning themselves with the British, the Crown was able to win the war.  The Six Nations helped win Montreal and Canada by acting as diplomats on behalf the British to the Canadian Mohawk, convincing them to not aid the French.

PRELUDE TO REVOLUTION

1763

 

February 10

Seven Years’ War ends, Britain victorious The Treaty of Paris ends the war between Britain and France. France gives up eastern Louisiana and all Canadian possessions. Great Britain gives up Newfoundland fishing rights, Guadaloupe and Martinique, and Dakar.

April

Pontiac’s War begins Ottawa Chief Pontiac unites many American Indian nations in an effort to drive British off their land.  Indian uprisings destroy settlements, burn eight British forts, and place Fort Pitt and Fort Detroit under siege.

British Point of View

British policy unfavorable to Indians Amherst’s policies toward the Indians were not favorable.  He restricted their access to firearms, and cut back on giving gifts to the Indians.  Fort Pitt is built up in clear violation of the Treaty of Easton, further infuriating the Indians.

Indian Point of View

Pontiac inspires religious war Pontiac uses religion to inspire the Indians to war against the British to protect their land.  The Indians feel betrayed by the changes in British policy, and wage war against the Crown by attacking forts and taking settlers captive in the backcountry.

American Point of View

Settlers fear captivity Once again, settlers in the backcountry fear captivity at the hands of the Indians.  Some vigilantes, like the Paxton Boys, feed into rumors about Indian savagery and attack Indian villages – further fueling the war.

August   Indians defeated atBattle of Bushy Run Colonel Henry Bouquet’s expedition to relieve Fort Pitt clashes with and defeats Native American forces at Bushy Run.  Bouquet’s forces move on to relieve Ft. Detroit and retake Presque Isle.

British Point of View

Amherst advocates germ warfare General Amherst was short on money and on manpower, and pressured to take care of the “savages.” In order to squelch the Indian threat, Amherst suggested a weapon that he would never use against a European foe – giving smallpox-infected blankets to the Indians.

Indian Point of View

Indians struggle for land Indian villages were already being ravaged by smallpox, whether the disease was spread through Amherst’s germ warfare or not.  Additionally, it was hard to fight a war in a new North America with no French, and with no clear European ally.

October 7

 

Proclamation of 1763 enacted King George III signs the Proclamation of 1763, reserving land west of the Allegheny Mountains for Indians.

British Point of View

An action to diffuse war To help relieve tensions with the Indians and to manage the large mass of land in North America, the British give up the Ohio valley to the Indians.  However, the British are never very good at keeping their land promises.

Indian Point of View

Indians get their land – for now The Indians finally get what they want – the land west of the Alleghenies.  However, the land will always be in jeopardy. The Crown has little respect for the Indians, and has broken its promises before.

American Point of View

Colonists want interior access The colonists fought for access to the Ohio valley – that’s what they thought the French and Indian War was all about.  Now, the king proclaimed that the very land the colonists fought for was reserved for Indians.

1764

 

American colonies taxed The British Sugar Act is amended to tax the American colonies.

British Point of View

The costs of empire building Britain now holds nearly a half billion acres of land in North America – so much land that they need new ways to pay for it.  Citizens of England had previously been taxed for the war and the empire, but now Britain needs to tax the colonies too. 

American Point of View

Taxation without representation Colonists had willingly paid for the war under Prime Minister Pitt because they felt that they had the same rights as subjects in Britain.  Now, colonists feel betrayed because they are being taxed without their consent – something that would not happen if they lived in England.

1765

 

Pontiac’s War ends The British change trade policy regarding the Indians, thus ending Pontiac’s War.

British Point of View

Diplomacy and warfare ends war Using both diplomacy and warfare, Britain ends Pontiac’s War by revising the policies that angered the Indians.  However, by changing their policies toward the Indians, the British would anger the colonists.

Indian Point of View

An effort met with some success Though the Indians had taken many British forts, they were running low on ammunition and were seeking an end to the conflict.  The promise of land west of the Allegheny Mountains and a change in trade policy helped make Pontiac’s War somewhat of a success for the Indians.

American Point of View

Seeking the same rights as Britons The Crown not only gave land west of the Alleghenies to the Indians, but also expected the colonists to be grateful for saving them during Pontiac’s War.  However, the colonists wanted the same respect and rights given to people who lived in Britain – something they weren’t being granted.

1765

 

Quartering and Stamp Acts infuriate colonists Parliament imposes the Quartering Act and the Stamp Act. In 1766, Parliament would repeal the Stamp Act, but reasserts its right to tax the Americans in the Declaratory Act.

British Point of View

Americans should pay for their war The French and Indian War and the Indian uprisings doubled England’s national debt, and British Parliament expected the American colonists to pay their share – whether the colonists agree to it or not. 

American Point of View

Seeking rights of full British citizens The American colonists have a violent reaction to unfair taxation – rioting and burning tax officials in effigy – because they are frustrated by their lack of representation.  They will help pay for the war as long as they have the same rights as those on England’s soil.

1767

 

Townshend Acts passed Britain passes Townshend Acts order to pay expenses involved in governing the colonies. A non-importation agreement is made at a Boston meeting and the New York assembly is suspended for refusing to quarter troops.

British Point of View

Finding new ways to tax Parliament continues to try to find ways to get the colonists to pay some of the massive debt incurred by the wars and by operating a vast empire.  This time, they levy taxes on imports, and the colonies start boycotting non-American goods. 

American Point of View

Americans boycott imported goods The colonists see Britain’s actions as heavy-handed, and are angry that they are being treated as second-class citizens.  They assert their rights by employing boycotts and ignoring Parliament’s requests.

1768

 

British troops arrive in Boston The Massachusetts Assembly is dissolved for refusing to collect taxes.  A colonial secretary is appointed to the British government. British troops arrive in Boston.

British Point of View

Exerting British domination King George III wanted to show that he still had full control of the colonies by rewriting Massachusetts’s charter and flooding Boston with troops.

American Point of View

Britain’s reaction too severe Even moderates like Washington found George III’s actions disturbing.  Most American colonists felt that this was a “family dispute,” and not a call for revolution; however, the colonists still wanted to assert their rights.

1769

 

Virginia legislature disbanded Virginia’s Resolutions condemn Britain’s actions against Massachusetts and assert that only Virginia’s governor and legislature can tax its citizens. The royal governor disbands Virginia’s legislature.

American Point of View

Virginia’s legislators meet anyway This action further infuriates American colonists.  Virginia’s legislature continues to meet anyway, reconvening at the Raleigh Tavern.  There, they agree to ban British goods. 

1770

 

Boston Massacre British troops kill colonists in the “Boston Massacre.”

British Point of View

Mounting tensions cause troops to fire British troops occupied Boston, and the city was on edge.  Troops fired on a crowd of civilians, further igniting the colonists’ fury against the British. 

American Point of View

Colonists demand British troops leave Boston To the colonists, the significance of the “Boston Massacre” was not the number of deaths, but that regular working people of Boston were victims of Britain’s aggression.  Bostonians demanded that British troops be removed from their city.

1773

 

Boston Tea Party To protest tax on British tea, men called the “Sons of Liberty” disguise themselves as Indians, and dump the tea held on ships into the Boston harbor.

British Point of View

Britain’s response severe In response, the British government closed the port of Boston and enacted laws that became known as the “Intolerable Acts,” which would eventually spark the revolution.

American Point of View

Some colonists are too revolutionary Some colonials think that the “Sons of Liberty” went too far with the Boston Tea Party.  Ben Franklin even stated that the actors should pay for the destroyed tea.

1774

 

First Continental Congress meets Parliament passes the “Intolerable Acts” and the First Continental Congress meets at Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia.

American Point of View

Relationship with Britain deteriorates The First Continental Congress met to coordinate the effort against the Intolerable Acts.  At this point, the delegates still considered themselves loyal to Britain, but their relationship with the Crown was fast deteriorating.

1775

 

April 19

Shot heard ’round the world fired Colonial Minute Men and British troops skirmish at Lexington and Concord.

American Point of View

No longer a family feud Once blood was shed in Lexington and Concord, the disputes with Britain escalated from family feud to revolution.  There was no going back for the American colonies, even though many still wanted to be loyal to the Crown.

May 10

 

George Washington heads Continental Army George Washington accepts command of Continental army from the Second Continental Congress.

American Point of View

Washington prepared to lead Ironically, Washington received the military training that he would employ against the British during the French and Indian War.  He wore the new uniform of his Virginia regiment to the Second Continental Congress – signaling that he was ready to fight.

1776

 

Declaration of Independence On July 9th, George Washington orders the Declaration of Independence be read to the assembled Continental Army, and a new war begins that would change the face of the North American continent.

British Point of View
Empire sparks a revolution Britain helped win America for the colonies by forcing out the French and neutralizing the Indians.  However, their actions inadvertently unleashed passions amongst the colonists that would cause the Crown to lose America, and spark a bloody revolution.   

American Point of View

Seeking rights and independence What began as a family dispute with Britain over taxes and land turned into much more – a quest for independence and freedom, and a whole new kind of government that the world had never seen. 

Indian Point of View

Trying to maintain independence The Indians need a powerful ally to maintain their independence and dominion over their land – but the French are gone forever, Britain had abandoned the Indians to their fate.  They would have to survive in a new country – an America that has little respect for their land rights.

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