NEGenWeb Project
Resource Center OLLibrary




of New England, and full of faith in New England grit, he wrote to his brother that Louisburg was far too hard a nut for their teeth to crack. But, with the help of a British fleet, Pepperrell and his men, after six weeks' fighting, did crack it (1745), and Boston fairly went wild over the great news.1 The victory had two important results:
   1. It broke up the nest of French pirates at Louisburg, and so put an end to their capturing and plundering Massachusetts fishing vessels.
   2. It made the New England people feel that they could beat the French even when they had granite walls, to protect them.



   At the end of the war England gave Louisburg back to France; but she could not give back the confidence the French once had in the famous fortress. The "Yankees" had taken it; and what men have done, they can do again.
   136. The Fourth or "French and Indian War"; the Great Line of French Forts. The fourth and final struggle (1754-1763) was known as the "French and Indian War." It was fought to decide the great question whether the French or the English should control the continent of America.
   The English outnumbered the French fifteen to one; but the French had got possession of the two chief rivers of the country, the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi (§§ 48, 131, 133). To

   1 Notwithstanding the bravery of Pepperrell and his gallant little force, it is not likely that they, even with the help of the British fleet, could have taken Louisburg had that fort possessed an efficient garrison and a competent commander. It had neither, and hence it fell. England was astonished, and the King was so delighted that he made the American commander a baronet, -- Sir William Pepperrell. He was the first native of New England who received that honor; though William Phips (§ 134) had been knighted more than fifty years before.

1753-1754 ]



clinch their hold they built fort after fort, until they had a line extending from Quebec to the Great Lakes, and thence down the Wabash, the Illinois, and the Mississippi to the Gulf. (Map, p. 111.) Where many of those and succeeding forts stood, flourishing cities have since risen, which still keep the old French or Indian names of Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Natchez, New Orleans. That shows the forethought of the French explorers. When they selected a spot to fortify, they seem to have thought not only of its military strength but also of the possibilities of its growth as a center of business and commerce.
   137. The Ohio Company; Governor Dinwiddie's Messenger. But at last the English began to open their eyes to the danger which threatened them. They saw that unless they moved into the rich territory west of the Alleghenies, they would lose the heart of the continent and the French would have everything their own way. To prevent such a disaster. the Ohio Company was formed in Virginia (1748), to plant a colony of emigrants on the cast bank of the upper Ohio.1
   The French at once resolved to stop the movement, and began a new line of forts, extending southward from Erie on Lake Erie to the point where the Allegheny and the Monongahela rivers unite to form the Ohio. That point at the head of inland navigation was called the "Gateway of the West." Both parties knew its importance; both meant to seize and fortify it. (Map, p. 114.)
   Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia determined (1753) to send a messenger to Venango, -- one of the new French forts, -- and warn off the intruders.2 Whoever undertook such a journey must travel at least three hundred miles on foot, climb a succession of mountain ranges, cross rivers as best he could, and risk his life among hostile Indians.

    1 The first Ohio Company (1748), whose chief manager, Lawrence Washington, brother of George Washington, died in 1752, received a grant of 500,000 acres on the east bank of the Ohio, between the Great Kanawha and the Monongahela rivers. The region is now embraced by West Virginia and southwest Pennsylvania.
   2 The English maintained that they had purchased the Ohio Valley region of the Iroquois Indians, who declared that they had conquered it many years before. There is no evidence that the Iroquois had any right to sell the land.




   The Governor finally decided to intrust this difficult and dangerous work to the brother of the late Washington before the Revolutionchief manager of the Ohio Company, a young man of twenty-one, who was a skillful surveyor, knew all about life in the wilderness, and did not know what fear meant. The name of that young man may still be read on a lofty limestone cliff of the Natural Bridge in Virginia, where, when a lad, he climbed up higher than any of his companions dared to go, and cut it with his hunting knife, -- GEORGE WASHINGTON.1
   138. Results of Washington's Journey. Washington performed the journey (1753), but the French commander sent back an unsatisfactory reply to the Governor. The expedition had, however, two important results:
   1. It impressed Washington with the immense value and future growth of the Ohio Valley. In time he came to hold more land there than any one else in that section. Throughout his

   1 George Washington was born at Bridges Creek, Virginia, on the Potomac, about fifty miles south of where Washington now stands. His father, soon after the birth of George, removed to an estate on the Rappahannock opposite Fredericksburg. Nothing remains of the old homestead at Bridges Creek; but a stone slab marks the site of the house, and bears this inscription: "Here, the 11th of February, 1732, George Washington was born." Difference of reckoning now makes the 11th the 22d. Washington's great-grandfather, John Washington, emigrated from England to Virginia about 1657. It is generally thought that he belonged to one of the old Cavalier families that fought in behalf of Charles I during the

1754 ]



life he used his influence in every way to build roads and canals to open up and settle the "West," or what was then known by that name.
   2. The French commander's answer was plainly a challenge to fight. The Ohio Company (§ 137) Unite or Die Flagaccepted the challenge and began to build a fort at the "Gateway of the West" (§ 137); but the French drove them out, finished building it, and named it Fort Duquesne in honor of the French governor of Canada. Washington then began a small fort, which he called Fort Necessity, about forty miles south of Fort Duquesne; but the French came in overwhelming force, and compelled him to surrender it. (Map, p. 114 .)
   139. The Albany Convention; Benjamin Franklin's Snake; Franklin's Plan. A convention of the Northern colonies met at Albany (1754) to consider what should be done. The Iroquois Indians of New York (Map, p. 34), who were stanch friends of the English, sent some of their people to the convention. They warned the colonists that if they did not take up arms, the French would drive every Englishman out of the country.
   Benjamin Franklin, who came from Philadelphia to attend the convention, printed a rude wood cut in his paper, the Pennsylvania Gazette, which told its own story. It represented the colonies in the form of a snake cut in pieces, with the motto "Unite or die." Franklin proposed a plan for binding the colonies together for self-protection, but it was not adopted. The English government rejected it as too democratic, though the colonists thought it not democratic enough. Even then, the

English Civil War. George Washington received a fair English education, but nothing more. He excelled in athletic sports and horsemanship, and was fond of life in the woods. He became a skillful surveyor, and found the work highly profitable. By the death of Lawrence Washington, an elder brother, George came eventually into possession of the estate of Mount Vernon (of several thousand acres, with many slaves), on the Potomac, a short distance below the present city of Washington. Washington's mission to the French commander at Venango first brought him into public notice. In 1759 he married Mrs. Martha Custis, a wealthy widow. From this time until his death, in 1799, he will stand prominent in this history. For a full account of Washington, see "Washington and His Country" [Ginn and Company].




authorities in England "dreaded American union as the keystone of independence." 1
Braddock's Defeat   140. Braddock's Defeat; Washington. The next year (1755) General Braddock came from England with troops to drive the French and Indians out of the Ohio Valley. He advanced from Alexandria, Virginia, across the mountains to attack Fort Duquesne 138). (Map, p. 114.) Washington accompanied him. All went well until the British army had nearly reached the fort. Suddenly a savage yell rose from the woods through which the men were marching, followed by a murderous volley of bullets which killed many. The English general was mortally wounded. A panic set in; his men ran like sheep, and were shot down as they ran. A few days later Braddock died, and was secretly buried at night. Colonel Washington read the funeral service over his grave by torch light.
   It was said in Virginia that Braddock lost the victory, but that Washington's coolness and courage saved the army. A Virginia clergyman, who preached on the disaster, said he believed that "Providence had saved Washington for some important service to his country."
   141. The Acadians; Pitt and Victory; Fort Duquesne taken; the French driven to Canada. In the course of the next two years the English took the French province of New Brunswick, and drove many thousands of Acadians, or French inhabitants of Nova Scotia, into exile. This act caused much suffering and

   1 Part of Franklin's plan was that the colonies should have a president appointed by the crown, and a council chosen by the people.

1697-1748 ]



it seemed a cruel thing at the time, but apparently the English had to do it.'
   William Pitt, later known as Lord Chatham, had now become the chief councilor in the English government. He was one of the truest friends that America ever had. He sent fresh troops to fight for the colonists, and the English recaptured and held the famous fort at Louisburg (§ 135).
   A second expedition, in which Colonel Washington again took part (§ 140), attacked Fort Duquesne. The fort was taken and named Fort Pitt, in honor of the distinguished statesman who had made the victory possible. To-day we know the place as Pittsburgh, the center of the most extensive iron works in the United States.
   The victory gave the English the control of the Ohio country, and drove the French back to Canada.
   142. Fall of Quebec (1759); Pontiac's Conspiracy. The French had lost Fort Frontenac, now Kingston, Canada (Map. p. 111), but they still held the formidable stronghold of Quebec. This fortress -- the "Gibraltar of America" -- was built on a lofty rock, overlooking the St. Lawrence. Montcalm, one of the ablest and noblest generals of France, was commander of the fortress. General Wolfe, an English soldier of equal character and courage, resolved to wrest it from him. He had only a few thousand men, a part of whom were American colonists, but every one of these men believed in him heart and soul. They believed, too, just as much in the "Hot Stuff" which Wolfe gave the enemy.2
   The death struggle came when Wolfe, with his troops, climbed up from the river to the top of the lofty plain called the Heights

   1 Longfellow has made this exile of the 7000 Acadians the subject of his poem of "Evangeline." Burke called the expulsion "an inhuman act," but recent investigation seems to show that the English were justified in driving out the French, since they positively refused to take the oath of allegiance to England, and their sons were secretly fighting against her (see Parkman's "Montcalm and Wolfe," I, 234-284)
   2 Among the rousing battle songs sung by Wolfe's men was one about Hot Stuff," which began with this appeal:

Come, each death-daring dog who dares venture his neck,
Come, follow the hero that goes to Quebec;

And ye that love fighting shall soon have enough:
Wolfe commands us, my boys; we shall give them 'Hot Stuff.'"

Prior page
General Index
Next page

© 1999, 2000, 2001 for NEGenWeb Project, T&C Miller