Lawrence Henry Gipson, author of the multivolume work, "The British Empire Before the American Revolution" ( 1939-1946) was dissatisfied with the titles "French and Indian War" and "Seven Years' War." In his view the conflict was more important than the Revolutionary War, for it settled the question "as to what civilization-what complex cultural patterns, what political institutions-would arise in the great Missisippi basin and the valleys of the rivers draining it." As Winston Churchill would later observe, Gipson noted that this great war was waged on three oceans and "ultimatley brought in both Spain, allied to France, and Portugal, allied to Great Britian." Gipson preferred to call the conflict "the Great War for the Empire." The War lasted from 1754-1763 and is also called The Seven Years' War.
Causes of the Conflict
By the mid-eighteenth century, the British and their colonists in North America began to look at the rich land beyond the Appalachian Mountains. The desire for land can be seen as a primary cause of the war. Trouble began in the 1740's as more people from the English colonies desired to trap and move west, toward the Ohio valley. A group of Virginians formed The Ohio Company and sent surveyors to scout the land and negotiate with the indigenous people. The French became alarmed at this potential expansion and sent men from Canada to build forts. Robert Dinwiddie, the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia responded by sending a small force led by a young George Washington, demanding that the French leave. Of course, the French refused. Dinwiddie later sent Washington back to the area to force the French to abandon their fort. Washington defeated a small force, but was forced to surrender when confronted by a large group of French and Native American fighters ( 1754). By this time, the British began to take more notice of the French threat, and in 1755 sent Edward Braddock to America. His mission was to expell the French from Fort Duquesne, a strategic fort built at the sight of present day Pittsburgh. Historians still debate whether Braddock was up to the task. A loyal soldier, who worked his way up the ranks, Braddock succeeded in leading a large force of men ( including Washington) through 100 miles of forest, only to be attacked near Fort Duquesne. During the engagement Braddock was shot. His force retreated in disarry. Four days later, General Braddock died, his mission a failure.
Causes of the Conflict
There are many Internet Sites on the French and Indian War. The following sites provide clear explanations for the conflict.
http://www.geo.msu.edu/geogmich/frenchindian_war.html This site offers a clear explanation of the events leading to the war, its causes and outcome. Helpful maps are French and English territory are included.
http://www.philaprintshop.com/frchintx.html This is an excellent site which offers not only an explanation of the war, but also a summary of the conflict.