The French and Indian War
IN ITS LARGER PHASES, the French and Indian War, known in Europe as the "Seven Years' War," began in 1756 and resulted in a worldwide conflict. As such, it involved the future of India, the value of a recently formed alliance between the House of Hapsburg and the House of Bourbon, the fortunes of the rising state of Prussia, and the control of the high seas. These considerations account for the fact that hostilities were not formally declared in Europe until after they began in America. In the former quarter, new alliances were being formed and new possibilities were being considered.
In its narrower phase, the French and Indian War was a contest for the ownership of the Ohio Valley. It was also the culmination of a series of conflicts involving the possession of the Ohio Valley and a major part of North America. It will be recalled that three colonial wars--King William's, or the War of the English Succession, 1689-1697; Queen Anne's, or the War of the Spanish Succession, 1701-1713; and King George's, or the War of the Austrian Succession, 1744-1748--had preceded it, and that in each of these conflicts fighting had taken place in America. Locally, the French and Indian War began in 1754, when scouting bands encountered each other in the disputed area beyond the Alleghenies.
The French based their claims to the Ohio Valley largely on the alleged discoveries of La Salle, the fact that they were then in occupation of the Illinois country, and the activity of their traders. Since early in the eighteenth century they had maintained a more or less regular trade in farm