Saturday, May 1, 2010

May 1 "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin's political cartoon calling for colonial unity during the French and Indian War; it would be used again during the American Revolution.

Dear Families--
And so begins the next chapter of our study of American History. By the 18th century, the colonies were established and growing. Meanwhile, in Europe, European nations were fighting each other for land and profit throughout the world. Various small wars continued for more than 100 years and became known as King William's War, Queen Anne's War, King George's War, and, in North America, The French and Indian War, which was fought to decide which nation, France or Britain, would become the strongest power in North America. Begun as a regional conflict between the French and English, The French and Indian War soon involved European alliances on both sides and quickly escalated into what can be considered the First World War. It relied heavily on its colonists and Indian allies to fight and ultimately resulted in two outcomes--British control of much of North America and an unexpected change in the way American colonists viewed themselves. Tension between Britain and the colonists grew from the war and its aftermath, and the [more unified] colonists began to think of themselves more as Americans than as British subjects. Within a few short years, a new and REVOLUTIONARY conflict would result.

Check out this video from a 1975 movie entitled Barry Lyndon. It shows the British military's "swaggering airs and scarlet attire" as they rallied to resist what they considered to be the French invasion of British territory. ("British Grenadiers" is the name of the music that played as they marched.):

Another clip that shows the formal manner of fighting. Notice that when one man fell, another rushed to take his place in formation. (The American colonists, however, implemented the Indian manner of fighting, which provided a distinct advantage in wilderness skirmishes and ultimately revolutionized the way in which wars were fought.)

For those of you who are interested, here are some authentic maps published in 18th century London magazines. People then as now were intrigued by current events, and demanded the most up-to-date information.

By the middle of the eighteenth century, a number of monthly magazines were being published in London. These magazines informed their readers on a variety of subjects, including natural history, topography, sports, and of course current affairs. The British public was fascinated by the events of the war with France and so there was great demand for up-to-date information, especially related to the American theater of battle. The British magazines met this demand with articles and illustrations which they rushed into print as soon as the details became available to them. The following maps appeared in contemporary magazines published in London between 1758 and 1761. These are among the most current illustrations of the events of the French & Indian War which are available to us today.

This map, issued in the Gentleman's Magazine in mid-1755, was published just before the war was declared. It shows "French Incroachments" and includes detailed text explaining the British claims. Also indicated are the numerous French and British forts in North America.

A map of the "English Colonies…bordering on the River Ohio." This map was issued at the end of 1754, the year during which the first shots were fired in the war. The war was sparked by a dispute over control of the upper Ohio River, with the first engagement being George Washington's fight with the garrison at Fort Duquesne (today's Pittsburgh). The British reading public would want a map showing the lands in dispute. This map shows those lands put into the context of the colonies extending from New Hampshire in the north and the Carolinas in the South. The editors used a somewhat out-of-date map.

This map focuses on the arena of fighting up to the spring of 1757, just before the French capture of Fort William Henry. Forts under British control are shown, including "Gen. Johnson's Camp" (Fort William Henry), Fort Ann, Fort Nicholson, and Fort Edward. Forts depicted that were under French control include Forts Oswego, "Frantunac", and Frederick on Crown Point, as well as an indication of a "French Camp" to the southeast of Fort William Henry. The detail of rivers and towns is impressive, and color is used to indicate the political division, including New Hampshire, which takes up the entire region now consisting of New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as "Eastern Massachuset," a district that was later to become Maine. The yellow color used for New York extends almost as far north as Montreal and crosses to the north side of the St. Lawrence River, with a note ("Extent of the French Settlements before they built a Fort at Crown Point") indicating the British viewpoint that the French claims to these lands were recent and unfounded.

This map is of the region around Lake George--from Crown Point on Lake Champlain to Fort Edward on the Hudson. It shows the forts in the region, including besides the two mentioned above, Fort William Henry and Fort Ticonderoga. Also shown are trails in the area, and a large body of "Drown'd Lands" along Wood Creek to the south of Ticonderoga.

FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR CHRONOLOGY--A chart showing dates and places of the French and Indian War.

Because dense forests made overland travel in North America very difficult, Indians and Europeans used waterways whenever possible. Between the St. Lawrence River (Montreal) and the Hudson River (Albany), several smaller rivers and lakes enabled fur traders, missionaries, and soldiers to travel by canoes and bateaus. Lake Champlain, the longest of these waterways, provided a link between the two major rivers. Although the French dominated the northern end of the lake, the southern sector and Lake George remained in contention. In 1755, the governor of Canada ordered the construction of Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga) at the place where travelers had to move overland between Lake Champlain and Lake George. Sir William Johnson responded by erecting Fort William Henry at the southern tip of Lake George.

I will continue to share our learning--