Snippets of French history: the French-Indian war
Yesterday the neighbour’s boy came by and asked me to draw a Red Indian for him. This, in turn, made me wonder about the French role in the Last of the Mohicans.
England and France were at war in Europe from 1756 to 1763 – the Seven Years War.
Elements of the conflict spilled over the Atlantic to French and British territories in the Americas, and the book “The Last of the Mohicans” was set during this period.
The war in America provided Great Britain with enormous territorial gains. However, somebody had to finance it all and this led to colonial discontent, aggravated by frontier disputes between the French and the British – and ultimately to the American Revolution (1765-1783).
Arguably it also led ultimately to the French Revolution (1789 – 1799) because the nobility (who had financed the war on behalf of the king) were every bit as irritated, broke and angry as the colonists.
Meanwhile the French and Indian War resulted from ongoing frontier tensions in North America. Both French and British officials and colonists sought to extend each country’s sphere of influence in frontier regions. In North America, the war pitted France, French colonists, and their Native (red Indian) allies against Great Britain, the Anglo-American colonists, and the Iroquois. In 1753, prior to the outbreak of war, Great Britain controlled the 13 colonies up to the Appalachian Mountains. Beyond lay New France, a very large colony with few people; this stretched from Louisiana through the Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes to Canada.
The border between French and British land was not well defined, and one disputed territory was the upper Ohio River valley. The French had built a number of forts in this region in an attempt to strengthen their claim on the territory. British colonial forces, led by George Washington, attempted to expel the French in 1754, but were outnumbered and defeated by the French. When news of Washington’s failure reached British Prime Minister Thomas Pelham-Holles, he called for a quick undeclared retaliatory strike. However, the French Government got wind of the plans and it resulted in full-scale war.
The war ended with British victory and the Treaty of Paris in which France had to give Louisiana to Spain, and all the land east of the Mississippi to Britain.
FYI “Mohican” is probably of mix of Mahican and Mohawk – both tribes which are alive and well today. The story, loosely woven around facts, tells of the last days of a dying Indian tribe and of their loyalty to the British. The author, James Fenimore Cooper (1798-1851), was born and raised in the Anglo-Indian frontier lands.
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