It is fashionable for academics to skewer the works of Allan Eckert. Despite what I have written above, most criticisms of him are overblown. What explains the animosity? Jealousy may play a role. Eckert is a popular writer with hundreds of thousands of his books sold over the decades. Academics should see Allan Eckert as a valuable ally rather than an enemy. Eckert taps into and expands a mass interest in frontier history. His critics should be grateful to him for providing a large, informed audience, provocative interpretations to ponder, and fodder for critical reviews.
"Haughty Conquerors" will systematically analyze the war's underlying causes, the course and nature of the fighting, the leaders who shaped the struggle, and the far-reaching consequences. To do so it will explore the rich range of primary sources on the subject, something previous books tapped but sparingly and unevenly, along with the profusion of secondary studies. It is time for a fresh look at a familiar tale.
The titles of the book and chapters come from lines spoken by the Ottawa Indian Chief Pontiac in the stunning play Ponteach, written in 1766 and attributed to the intrepid ranger leader Robert Rogers. In this speech, Pontiac rues the French defeat, the British conquest, and the destruction of his people's way of life:
Where are we now? The French are all subdued,
But who are in their stead to become our Lords? . . .
Whom see we now, their haughty conquerors . . .
Big with their Victories so often gained;
On us they Look with deep Contempt and Scorn . . .
Nay think us conquered, and our Country theirs,
Without a Purchase, or ev'n asking for it . . .
I'd be content, would he keep his own Sea,
And leave these distant Lakes and Streams to us . . .
To be a Vassal to his low Commanders,
Treated with Disrespect and public Scorn
By Knaves, by Miscreants, Creatures of his Power . . .
No, I'll assert my Right, the Hatchet raised,
And drive these Britons hence like frightened Deer.
Destroy their Forts, and make them rue the Day
That to our fertile Land they fought the Way.12