Debating the Issues in Colonial Newspapers: Primary Documents on Events of the Period

By David A. Copeland | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 14
The Albany Congress, the Plan of Union, and the French and Indian War, 1754-1763

In the spring of 1754, many Americans believed that life in the colonies was in danger. From the western boundaries of the colonies, reports were trickling in of groups of French and Native Americans gathering military forces, especially in the Ohio Valley. There, the French had built a number of forts, and that did not sit well with colonials hoping to settle west of the Appalachian Mountains.

In 1754 France controlled most of the territory in North America. French jurisdiction of Canada prevented expansion by British colonials northward, and France's claim to the lands west of the Appalachians effectively limited the territory of the American colonies. Colonists, however, disputed French claims to the Ohio Valley, and settlers from Virginia began moving past the Appalachian Mountains to construct settlements after the British government approved land grants there.

The fact that these settlers reported Frenchmen with Indians was significant. Hostilities between English and French settlers in the New World started almost immediately after colonization began in 1607-1608. The English captured Quebec in 1629, and the two nations had fought three wars since 1689, the last--called King George's War--officially ended in 1748. While most Native American nations may have wanted nothing to do with either English or French colonists, a century of exchange and warfare led most Native Americans to view the French as militarily superior and the better of the two groups with which to align. The fact that the French and Indians were massing troops surely meant trouble for the colonists.

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