30 August 2014
Chapter 5: Roads to Revolution, 17501776
1. The Triumph of the British Empire, 17501763
After King George’s War, neither France nor Britain had power over the other in North America. As both sides readied themselves to fight again, the Ohio valley became a center of conflict between the two. Seeing that they could possibly gain an advantage here, the French began to build forts along the valley. The British sent George Washington to ask them to leave the valley, but he was pushed back to no avail. Fearing the French gaining the upper hand, the British not only tried to bribe the Iroquois to their side with goods, but also attempted to create an intercolonial “confederation,” which they hoped would unify the colonies and provide a systematic and mutual defense system.
As the Seven Year’s War began in America, one of the first British offensives was an attack on Fort Duquesne by General Edward Braddock and his 2,200 men in 1755. However, a coalition of French and Indian forces assaulted the British force, and after heavy losses and the death of Braddock, the British forces retreated. With the retreat, Frenchallied Indians began attacking the borders of the colonies, effectively halting both the war effort as well as expansion for three years. The French and Indians took both Fort Oswego and Fort William Henry, and with these gains, they now held a much better position over the British, both in Europe and America. However, the tides turned when the Iroquois began to fear that the French were getting too powerful, and they resigned from fighting, which also caused many of the other Indian tribes to stop and/or switch sides. Also, William Pitt became the leader of the military sect of the British cabinet. Pitt rallied the colonists into fighting through offering to pay for the war debt, which generated over 40,000 new soldiers. With fresh, new soldiers, the tide of the battle turned, as the British took back their lost lands, and after driving the French out of the colonies they captured Montreal in 1759.
These defeats forced the French to negotiate terms for land distribution in North America. However, the French did try to launch a recapture, which failed miserably. Afterwards, the British and French agreed that France was to give up all of the land east of the Mississippi to Britain. It was not only France and Britain in the talks, however, as Spain was also involved. A series of trades then began. Spain would take all lands west of Louisiana from the French, and would give Britain control of Florida in exchange for Cuba. At the end of it all, both Britain and Spain had massive land holdings, and the French only had tiny spots of territory in the Caribbean and islands in North America. French subjects, who did not support their new British rulers, were forced out, and most of them went to Louisiana, and became “Cajuns.”
2. Imperial Revenues and Reorganization, 17601766
In the aftermath of the Seven Years’ War, the British sought a way to strengthen and pay for their now much larger empire. The British government passed Acts, such as the Stamp Act, to generate money. However, the colonists did not like these newfound taxes, and protested, sometimes violently.
Throughout the war, there were tensions between British and Colonial troops, with each feeling that the other was somehow in the wrong. The British felt that the colonial troops were unorganized and ungrateful, and the Colonial troops felt the British were stuck up. The British were also angry that the colonists were free from paying the debts of the war, as the debt in England skyrocketed. However, because colonists were spending so much on British goods, the price of which had risen during wartime, they also fell into debt. With this came much suspicion of Britain purposely putting the colonists into this situation. These were not the only tensions that arose after the war. Many Natives, fearing that the British would take their land and enslave them, attacked British forts and raised an antiBritish sentiment. Pontiac’s Rebellion, as it was known, was ultimately a failure, as the the British crushed them with help from smallpox and other factors. King George also proclaimed that all of the land west of the Appalachians was now under royal rule, and that the Indians could either give them up to the British or leave. However, this “Proclamation of 1763” angered the colonists in that it felt that the royal crown had suddenly taken all of their claims to the west, instead of giving them back to the colonies. Finally, with this uprising came the government’s decision to station 10,000 British troops in the new lands. This would cost a heavy amount of money, and Parliament wanted the colonists to help pay. This, combined with the colonists’ idea of the “standing army” in their lands, gave way to more tensions between the colonists and the British government.
To stop illegal trade with foreign nations, the British government allowed for their authorities in the colonies to apply a “writ of assistance” which allowed for the seizing of illegal goods (basically a search warrant). However, many colonists considered this document
“unconstitutional” as it did not require any evidence or suspicion, which mean