Three 18th century wars that made two countries, 1754—1784

May 15th, 2015 | By | Category: Heritage Now

Just seven days after Anthony Henday set out on his summer explorations in the far north, a British American force from Virginia was defeated by a rival Canadian, French, and Indian alliance, at a marshy clearing in what is now western Pennsylvania called Great Meadows. The defeated force was led by the 22-year-old, six-foot-two-inch Lieutenant Colonel George Washington, just at the start of his ultimately brilliant career.

The Battle of Great Meadows, on July 3, 1754, also marked the decisive start of a conflict still known in the United States as the French and Indian War. This would soon grow into the Seven Years War, which according to the New England historian Samuel Eliot Morison “should really have been called the First World War.” And this was the first of three bloody 18th century North American conflicts, that collectively gave birth to both the United States and Canada in their present incarnations.

The Seven Years War

From a Canadian perspective, the crux of the Seven Years War was that it finally ended almost all of the French regime in North America. Once upon a time, English-speaking Canadians called this war the “British Conquest of Canada.” Even now French-speaking Canadians inside and outside Quebec still sometimes allude to “La Conquête.”

The largest fact about the Seven Years’ War is that it finally reached around the globe. Samuel Eliot Morison underlined all this in an earlier era. There is a more recent variation on the theme in the University of Colorado historian Fred Anderson’s much admired 2000 publication, Crucible of War : The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754–1766. (Which, according to the British military historian John Keegan, “bears comparison with … Francis Parkman.”)

As explained by Anderson, the Seven Years’ War began with “the French and British empires” in the Ohio valley. It then “spread from North America to Europe, the Caribbean basin, West Africa, India, and the Philippine archipelago: in a real though more limited sense than we intend when we apply the words to twentieth-century conflicts, a world war.”

Anderson’s book also stresses a related view, with some special interest for Canada: “The most important event to occur in eighteenth-century North America, the Seven Years’ War (or as the colonists called it, the French and Indian War) figures in most Americans’ consciousness of the past as a kind of hazy backdrop to the Revolution.” Yet, Fred Anderson goes on : “if viewed not from the perspective of Boston or Philadelphia, but from Montreal or Vincennes, St. Augustine or Havana, Paris or Madrid or, for that matter, Calcutta or Berlin the Seven Years’ War was far more significant than the War of American Independence.”

* * * *

The North American prelude to the global conflict began in the “Ohio country” south of the Great Lakes. The region had become a hotbed of fur trade rivalries, similar to but more intense than the far northern encounters that prompted the Hudson’s Bay Company to send Anthony Henday into the aboriginal heartland of what is now Western Canada, in late June 1754.

The Ohio country was also an early go-west-young-man territory. Here the restless Anglo-American mass settlement frontier was beginning to usurp the middle-ground alliance between the Algonquians and Onontio, the governor general of New France at Quebec City. The expanding Anglo-American frontier threatened the French American empire’s communication links between the Great Lakes and Louisiana as well.

In the late 1740s, an expedition led by the Montreal-born Officer of Marine Céloron de Blainville planted a line of lead plates in the ground, from the south shore of Lake Erie to the Allegheny River, and then along the Allegheny to its confluence with the Monongahela and Ohio rivers, at what is now Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the spring of 1753 a larger French and Canadian force began to construct a string of four forts, broadly along the line of the lead plates — Fort Presque Isle (present-day Erie, Pennsylvania), Fort Le Boeuf, Fort Machault, and Fort Duquesne.

At this point the Governor of Virginia, also an investor in a western frontier real estate enterprise known as the Ohio Company, took action. And this finally led to the young Lieutenant Colonel George Washington’s early misadventure at the Battle of Great Meadows on July 3, 1754. For the next three years the old middle-ground alliance between the Algonquians and Onontio continued to dominate in what soon enough became the North American branch of the Seven Years War. If the conflict had somehow ended in the fall of 1757, Canada today might actually be the unilingual French country that some still seem to fear (along with some substantial enough northern portion of what is now the United States!).

* * * *

As it happened, the war did not end in 1757. By this point the conflict in North America had begun to spread around the world. And 1758 became what a key chapter of Fred Anderson’s Crucible of War calls the “Turning Point” for a suddenly awakening global British empire, on which the sun would eventually never dare to set.

At last the Patriot Whig William Pitt (“the elder”) got the Parliament of the United Kingdom’s Seven Years’ warrior act together. This ultimately led to the so-called first British empire’s annus mirabilis (or year of wonders) in 1759 — “when Horace Walpole complained that the church bells were worn threadbare with ringing for victories” around the world. (And in North America a new Fort Pitt arose, adjacent to the Fort Duquesne abandoned and burned by the French and Indians late in 1758, on the site of present-day Pittsburgh.)

Back in the St. Lawrence valley, the British empire’s turning point also owed something to strategic conflict inside the mind of the French and Indian enemy. As already alluded to (in part I, chapter 3), this pitted the Canadian-born last Governor General of Canada or New France, Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil de Cavagnal against a soldier who King Louis XV sent with French regular army reinforcements from across the sea, Major General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm.

According to Fred Anderson: “Vaudreuil saw the problem of defense in light of the proven Canadian strategies of Indian alliance and wilderness warfare. His was essentially a guerilla’s conception of defense, for it rested upon his confidence that although the British might conquer territory, they could never hold it so long as Canada’s French and Indian peoples remained united and capable of resisting in the interior.”

Yet in the murky waters of French imperial politics Montclam’s strategic ideas prevailed. He was a European aristocrat who had entered the French regular army in his youth, and built a record of distinguished service in the wars of the Polish and Austrian successions. He had been successful in Europe. He believed that the way wars were fought there was the best way. And he became especially uncomfortable with North American Indigenous allies, who, he believed (quite rightly), had scant respect for European military etiquette.

As the popular Canadian historian Christopher Moore has also explained,  Vaudreuil’s top priority was the patriotic defence of the place of which he was governor. But “Montcalm never shared the colonists’ commitment to saving New France at all costs. He saw Canada as one of many French battlefields and speculated about the terms under which the King might agree to yield it.”

* * * *

Montcalm’s defeat by General James Wolfe, on the Plains of Abraham in September 1759 (a battle in which both Wolfe and Montcalm almost romantically perished), set the stage for the end of the Seven Years War in North America.

Yet Fred Anderson is a recent historian who has concluded (or “reassessed”) that the contest on the Plains of Abraham “was no more a decisive battle than a brilliant one” — despite its prominence in Canadian historical legends.

(And not just strictly Canadian legends. As the British historian Simon Schama has recently explained : “Wolfe’s death on the Plains of Abraham at the Battle of Quebec was perhaps the great heroic exemplum virtutis of the British Empire, with countless others to follow.”)

The crucial events in Anderson’s narrative happened after and/or elsewhere. At the Battle of Lagos off the coast of Spain and Portugal, on August 18–19, 1759, and then at Quiberon Bay off the coast of France, on November 20, 1759, the British Navy managed to wreak great havoc on the French Navy, with great consequences for the future of Canada.

In fact (and, again, as alluded to earlier, in part I, chapter 3), French and Canadian ground forces defeated the British at the Battle of Ste-Foy near the Plains of Abraham in April 1760. And only the appearance of the British rather than the beleaguered French navy on the St. Lawrence River in May 1760 secured La Conquête. Vaudreuil finally surrendered the colony at Montréal on September 8, 1760 “after negotiating terms that protected the Canadians in their property, laws and religion.”

Elsewhere in the awakening global village the Seven Years’ War carried on for two more years. The final legal touches on the fate of Canada would await the signing of the Peace of Paris on February 10, 1763. But for all practical purposes by the end of 1760 the French regime in northern North America had become just another part of the “tradition of all the dead generations” that “weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living.”

Pontiac’s rebellion

As far as the King of France, Louis XV, was concerned, the Peace of Paris he signed on February 10, 1763 had ceded Canada to the young George III of Great Britain. But by the late spring of 1763 it had become clear that significant numbers of what Fred Anderson has called Canada’s French and Indian peoples did not accept what the King of France had done.

Those involved might have taken hints from the preceding few years. At the end of November 1760, almost three months after Vaudreuil’s surrender at Montreal, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac’s wilderness fur trade metropolis at Fort Detroit was turned over to Roger’s Rangers, “an independent company of colonial militia, attached to the British Army.”

Similar transfers of European authority, from French to British forces, were effected at more minor interior outposts, scattered over the old upper country of Canada, and beyond.

It is hard to know now just what the local Indigenous branches of “Canada’s French and Indian peoples” made of all this activity. Yet the news that the Great Father Louis XV had actually signed away Canada in the Peace of Paris, on February 10, 1763, apparently astonished a still too mysterious aboriginal leader known as Pontiac, War Chief of the Ottawa.

As the spring thaw of 1763 settled over the vast interior geography of the French and Indian pays d’en haut, Pontiac rushed to defend the old Indian-European middle ground that (in the language of Richard White) had “preserved Canada” under the French regime.

He finally failed in some ways, but succeeded in others. As Richard White has summarized his achievement, Pontiac “rose against the British to restore his French father and created a British father instead.” (Which can also be seen as just another way of putting Harold Innis’s Fur Trade in Canada lament of 1930: “We have not yet realized that the Indian and his culture were fundamental to the growth of Canadian institutions.”)

* * * *

In some ways what Francis Parkman called The Conspiracy of Pontiac in the 19th century was more important for the Canadian future than either the Seven Years War or the American Revolution. In other ways Pontiac’s rebellion was just the latest in a long line of native American protests that succeeded the bloody King Phillip’s War in 17th century New England.

From this last angle, what Fred Anderson just calls Pontiac’s War started with Neolin, “the Delaware Prophet.” He “called upon Indians to reform themselves, to cast away European tools and clothes, and to prepare for a world where they would live independently of whites.”

Yet a lot had happened in North America since King Phillip’s War (1675–1678). By 1762 Neolin’s preaching had been given added weight by new British policies that tried to abolish the old Indian-European middle ground, after Governor Vaudreuil’s surrender in the late summer of 1760. And this seems to be what finally motivated Pontiac to lead his rebellion.

He used Neolin’s more traditional prophetic message to help mobilize his Indigenous warriors. But Pontiac was himself a creature of the Indian-European fur trade. What he really wanted was the return of Onontio at Quebec City. As noted earlier, yet again: “I am a Frenchman, and I wish to die a Frenchman,” he told the Canadians settled along the Detroit River in the spring of 1763 (according to Francis Parkman). And he led a bold and impressively organized last-ditch campaign to keep France’s American wilderness empire alive, masterminded by the Indian allies.

* * * *

Pontiac’s rebellion started when Pontiac and a group of Wendat (or Huron), Ojibwa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi warriors began what would ultimately become an extended siege of Fort Detroit on May 7, 1763, with a planned surprise attack from inside that didn’t quite unfold as planned. 

Over the next month or so — from May 16 to June 19 — native allies of Pontiac (Kickapoo, Mascouten, Miami, Ojibwa, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Sauk, Seneca, Wea, and  Wyandot) captured eight smaller former French outposts of the interior upper country from their new British occupants (Fort Sandusky, Fort St. Joseph, Fort Miami, Fort Ouiatenon, Fort Michilimackinac, Fort Venango, Fort Le Boeuf, and Fort Presque Isle).

Like Fort Detroit, the other two large wilderness bastions of what had become the northern British North American interior — Fort Pitt and Fort Niagara — managed to resist Pontiac’s allies. Yet over the summer of 1763 all three big outposts sustained fierce assaults, and (especially at Fort Detroit and Fort Pitt) prolonged sieges by Delaware, Huron/Wendat, Mingo, Ojibwa, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Seneca, and Shawnee warriors.

By the end of May 1763 several hundred Anglo-American frontier settlers, on early backwoods family farms in western Pennsylvania, had fled to the comparative safety of Fort Pitt. Beyond the fort’s timber walls, over the summer Delaware and Shawnee war parties rained bloody terror on pioneer families foolish enough to try to stay on their farms.

* * * *

As Fred Anderson has also explained, although the somewhat perplexed commanding British general in North America, Jeffrey Amherst, “had been slow to inform his superiors of the Indian uprising, the British press had reported it as early as July 16, and the news had thrown” the government at Westminster across the sea “into an uproar.”

The uproar finally led to the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763, issued in theory by a 25-year-old George III in the third year of his reign. This document is still celebrated by Canadian Indigenous peoples in the early 21st century. Some initial draft version, it is sometimes stressed, had been prepared even before the outbreak of Pontiac’s rebellion on May 7. In any case, by early October a final draft had been drawn up, to clarify British policy for “the extensive and valuable Acquisitions in America, secured to our Crown by the late Definitive Treaty of Peace, concluded at Paris the 10th Day of February last.”

With Pontiac’s shock-and-awe strategy over the past seven months in mind, the final draft of the Proclamation was particularly addressed to “the several Nations or Tribes of Indians with whom We are connected, and who live under our Protection.” (The part about “our Protection” was of course true only in the official mind of George III, as Pontiac was making clear.) The Proclamation spelled out that these Nations or Tribes “should not be molested or disturbed in the Possession of such Parts of Our Dominions and Territories as, not having been ceded to or purchased by Us, are reserved to them.” The main instrument for achieving this was a line on the map that hemmed in both the new British colony of Quebec in the St. Lawrence valley and the older colonies on the Atlantic seaboard — and, at least in theory, prohibited settlement west of this line by non-Indigenous peoples.

In what is now the United States George III’s Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763 directly opposed such frontier real estate enterprises as the Ohio Company. Yet it was these interests that had prompted the youthful George Washington’s protest at The Battle of Great Meadows in 1754. And the Proclamation became a first step on the subsequent swift journey to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775.

In today’s Canada the Proclamation “established the constitutional framework for the negotiation of Indian treaties with the aboriginal inhabitants of large sections of Canada … it has been labelled an ‘Indian Magna Carta’ or an ‘Indian Bill of Rights’” (Canadian Encyclopedia).

As explained by the federal bureaucracy in Ottawa today: “The Royal Proclamation of 1763 recognized that … Aboriginal people lived on traditional lands … Only the Crown could buy or accept Aboriginal lands … The Crown generally required an agreement to obtain lands from Aboriginal people … Aboriginal people were under the Crown’s protection.” And the Proclamation remains “very significant. It defines Canada’s special relationship with Aboriginal people and sets out the basis in law for Aboriginal land ownership and other rights.”

Back in the early fall of 1763 the Royal Proclamation took a first step down the road that Richard White has so provocatively summarized in his argument that Pontiac “rose against the British to restore his French father and created a British father instead.” George III was about to take on the symbolic role of Onontio in the Great Lakes wilderness, that Louis XV had just abandoned (knowingly or otherwise). Earlier British policies to dismantle the Indian-European middle ground had been cast aside. The Royal Proclamation clarified that a new policy was blowing in the wind.

Pontiac would continue mobilizing resistance against the British, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, for almost three more years before signing a final treaty. But on October 31, 1763 he at least lifted his siege of Detroit, and moved further south. Two and a half centuries later, we have still not quite realized that what he and his warrior allies ultimately achieved was a new future for the old French and Indian Canada, which the alliance between the Algonquians and the patriarchal governor general of New France at Quebec city had preserved.

The American Revolution

For a brief period in the later 18th century — from the signing of the Peace of Paris on February 10, 1763 to the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 (12 years and not quite five months) — what are now Canada and the United States lived together under a single political roof. For better or worse, it didn’t work out. Pontiac’s rebellion was one sign of this. The American Revolution was another.

From a Canadian perspective, the most important thing about the American Revolution was that Canada (or, more exactly in the lexicon of the day, the most northern part of British North America) was not part of it. Canada was nonetheless a focus for the early actions of the Continental Army, established on June 14, 1775 by the Continental Congress at Philadelphia — the precursor of what finally became the federal government of the United States of America.

The modern United States did not begin until the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The Continental Congress at first saw itself as a federation of British American colonies that remained loyal to King George III, but was profoundly unhappy with home government policies. From the Congress’s first meeting in the fall of 1774, it had sent messages to the populations of the far northern British colonies, especially Quebec and Nova Scotia, inviting them to join a new North American federation.

A second message sent to Quebec in May 1775, just after Lexington and Concord, had met with no response (just like the first). And a Continental Army force led by Brigadier General Richard Montgomery occupied Montreal on November 13, 1775, after a smaller British force had abandoned the city. The occupation would last until the summer of 1776, when (once again) the British Navy “sailed up the St. Lawrence River.”

* * * *

The refusal of the old Canada or New France to join the American Revolution was paralleled in the other most northerly British North American colonies of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and St. John’s Island (the former Île Saint-Jean and present-day Prince Edward Island). Explaining why is a task of Canadian history that remains incomplete in a number of ways.

The beginnings of one kind of answer may appear in the conclusion of Harold Innis’s Canadian history classic of 1930: “the importance of manufactured goods to the fur trade made inevitable the continuation of control by Great Britain in the northern half of North America.” Or, as Innis put it at the middle of his book: “The Quebec Act of 1774 and the retention of Canada after the American Revolution were partly the result of a mercantile policy since they guaranteed a continuation of the fur trade and the continued wide consumption of British manufactures.”

Something about all this also seems at least vaguely applicable to the cod fisheries on the north Atlantic coast. Similarly, “the Nova Scotia government was controlled by an Anglo-European mercantile elite for whom loyalty was more profitable than rebellion.” At the same time, Innis’s reference to the Quebec Act may also have something to do with Richard White’s more poetic conclusion of the early 1990s, about how Pontiac, War Chief of the Ottawa, “rose against the British to restore his French father and created a British father instead.”

The Quebec Act was both a revision and an extension of the Royal Proclamation of 1763. Unlike the Proclamation, it embraced some elements in the French Catholic culture of the old Canadian absolutism. It also deepened the Proclamation’s assault on the restless Anglo-American frontier, by extending the boundaries of His Britannic Majesty’s Province of Quebec into the Ohio country. Just a decade after the Peace of Paris, that is to say, Pontiac’s new British father of the north had taken the territory that the Ohio Company and the restless frontier had won in the French and Indian War, and given it back to the French and Indians.

* * * *

George III signed the Quebec Act into law on June 22, 1774. It was one of the “Intolerable Acts” that finally pushed the Thirteen Colonies over the edge. As already alluded to, the first Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia on September 5.

On April 19, 1775 what Ralph Waldo Emerson later christened “the shot heard round the world” was fired. On July 4, 1776 : “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America” proclaimed that “these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States … Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown.”

On September 3, 1783, the Treaty of Paris between Britain and the first US Congress, established under the Articles of Confederation in 1781, and the Treaty of Versailles between Britain, France, and Spain, recognized the independence of a new United States of America. (And on January 14, 1784 the Treaty of Paris was ratified by the US Congress.)

The so-called first British empire was over. Yet already a second empire had begun. The Ohio country in the Quebec Act was returned to the newly independent American frontier. The more northerly North American colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, St, John’s Island, and Newfoundland — and the far northern and western Rupert’s Land of the Hudson’s Bay Company — remained loyal in one sense or another to the British Crown.

(Though of course “in one sense or another” was especially important in the old Canada or New France. According to the early 20th century French Canadian nationalist Henri Bourassa, his ancestors had stayed in the empire in the late 18th century because “we had to choose between the English of Boston and the English of London. The English of London were farther away and we hated them less.”)

Ironically enough, the British monarchy had lost the increasingly populous enterprise of the Thirteen Colonies, and assumed responsibility for the harsher and more marginal northern North American adventures — that the cod fisheries, the French monarchy, and the middle-ground fur-trade alliance between Onontio and the diverse Algonquians had begun.

* * * *

There are two haunting if still rather mysterious legacies of the American Revolution (or War of Independence) for the independent United Nations member state of Canada in the early 21st century:

(1) The Loyalist migrations. Even before the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783, some residents of the new United States who remained loyal to the British Crown migrated northwards, into the continuing British North American territories that stayed loyal to the “United Empire.”

Plate 32 in volume 1 of the Historical Atlas of Canada suggests that “Almost 40,000 Loyalists came to the British colony of Nova Scotia in the early 1780s. Of these perhaps a fifth left almost immediately [for the United Kingdom, eg, or the Caribbean], 13,500 settled in what is now New Brunswick, and some 19,000 settled in peninsular Nova Scotia.”

Plate 7 in volume 2 of the Historical Atlas of Canada reports that the “loyalists arrived in two major migrations, to the Maritimes (shown in vol 1, pl 32) and to the colony of Quebec, where migration was much smaller but took place over a longer period of time.” Movement in the second case began in the mid 1770s. By 1783 the “numbers awaiting settlement in Quebec swelled to several thousand … Lands were made available to some 5,000 settlers in newly surveyed townships along the upper St. Lawrence River, eastern Lake Ontario, and the Niagara River. Smaller numbers remained in Quebec.”

Graeme Wynn, in the late 20th century’s “bestselling one-volume history of Canada” (a fresh edition of which appeared in 2012), writes that: “Approximately 35,000 … ‘Loyalists’ went to Nova Scotia and some 9,000 to Quebec.” (The new province of New Brunswick was created in the old mainland Nova Scotia in 1784, to help accommodate these refugees — as was the new province of Upper Canada, or present-day Ontario, in the west of the old Quebec, in 1791.)

Wynn notes as well that “approximately 3,000” black Loyalists migrated to Nova Scotia — “most of them runaway slaves.” (Alas: “Rarely were their hopes of independence realized, and in 1792 almost 1,200 of them left Nova Scotia for Sierra Leone.”) Some black servants also accompanied white Loyalists who moved to Quebec and what is now Ontario. And: “Among those who moved north of the Great Lakes were almost 2,000 Indians, mainly Six Nations Iroquois … who were granted land … in return for their loyalty to the Crown.”

On an over-aggressively monarchist view, these Loyalist migrations marked the birth of modern anglophone Canada. The later 18th century American Revolution was a transatlantic reprise of the mid 17th century English Civil War. This time large groups of republicans to the south prevailed. But small groups of royalist survivors hung on in a geographically vast northern wilderness. On these imperfect but nonetheless influential assumptions, the resulting key difference between Canada and the United States today is ideological — as in Seymour Martin Lipset’s (and Francis Parkman’s) allusions to the Canadian “legacy of monarchy and elitism … compared to the revolutionary background and egalitarianism in the US.”

(2) The North West Company. The American War of Independence also prompted another northward migration. And this points to Harold Innis’s view that the key differences between Canada and the United States turn around economic geography, and several more pragmatic if also recurrently almost poetic features of the long journey from 1497 to 1930 and beyond.

In the first half of the 18th century, the old French and Indian fur trade with its eastern supply centres at Quebec City and Montreal had been increasingly challenged by the Hudson’s Bay Company in the north — and by a more southerly English and Indian trade with its supply centres at New York City and Albany (allied especially with the Six Nations Iroquois).

For a time after the Peace of Paris in 1763, the old French and Indian trade out of Quebec City and Montreal was in disarray. But the 1774 Quebec Act and the American Revolution or War of Independence brought new beginnings.

As explained by Innis: “Since the American Revolution was an evidence of the supremacy of settlement it was destined eventually to have important effects on fur trade organization. The immediate consequences of the American Revolution were shown in a scarcity of commodities and a disruption of the trade … Trade was impossible in the war areas. The trade was cut off and traders, such as Peter Pond, who had obtained goods from New York and Albany, were forced to depend on Montreal. Simon McTavish, the firm of Phyn and Ellice, and others were obliged to leave Albany and move to Montreal.”

By the late 1770s the ingredients of a new British North American incarnation of the old French and Indian fur trade were in place. As explained by Marjorie Wilkins Campbell’s Canadian popular history classic of the 1950s, The North West Company, it “never was a company in the modern sense. It had no charter. It was, rather, a series of co-partnerships between small groups of men who were promoters, merchants or fur-trader-explorers, or all three together or in turn … the first North West Company co-partnership was formed in Montreal in 1779.”

In Harold Innis’s almost poetic summary of the next four decades (already partly noted earlier, yet again) : “By 1821 the North West Company had built up an organization which extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific” (and ultimately the Arctic too). It was “the forerunner of confederation and it was built on the work of the French voyageur, the contributions of the Indian, especially the canoe, Indian corn, and pemmican, and the organizing ability of Anglo-American merchants.”


This is an initial dry-run at what will finally appear in a published hard-copy text, subject to further checking, correction, and editing. The order of the items here broadly matches the order of the text above. The online linkages reported are as of Autumn 2023.

Britannica, “Battle of Fort Necessity/American history [1754] … also called the Battle of the Great Meadows, (3 July 1754), one of the earliest skirmishes of the French and Indian War and the only battle George Washington ever surrendered.”

Wikipedia, “The French and Indian War … British colonists named this conflict after their opponents … known as the French and Indian War. This continues as the standard name for the war in the United States.”

Samuel Eliot Morison, The Oxford History of the American People. New York : Oxford University Press, 1965, 164.

The Seven Years War

Wikipedia, “Conquête de 1759-1760 (ou simplement, pour les Québécois et Canadiens français, la Conquête),”

Fred Anderson, Crucible of War : The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754–1766. New York : Random House/Vintage Books, 2000, 2001.

The late John Keegan’s comparison of Fred Anderson’s Crucible of War with Parkman appeared ?during the year 2000? in the Daily Telegraph for which he was defense editor. For a somewhat different slant on the same subject see Thomas Ricks’s review of Crucible of War in the Washington Monthly, September 2000. Republished online by The Free Library.…-a065160629

For the “most important event” and “ not from the perspective of Boston or Philadelphia” quotation see Anderson, Crucible of War , xvii–xviii.

Wikipedia, “Pierre Joseph Céloron de Blainville.” Includes Joseph Pierre de Bonnecamps’s striking (if also sometimes puzzling) map of Céloron de Blainville’s 1749 “lead plate” journey along the Allegheny River (with a due-south-of-Lake-Erie prelude in something now just known as French Creek, in northwestern Pennsylvania) .

In his Life in Ontario : A Social History (1968) G. P. De T. Glazebrook notes that the first serious European “colonization” in what is now Canada’s most populous province “was caused by the desire of the government of New France to encourage agriculture in the Detroit area. In 1749 and 1750 proclamations were read in the parishes of the St. Lawrence inviting farmers to accept grants of land.” Most who accepted settled on what is now the American or Michigan side of the Detroit River (and Lake St. Clair), in the immediate vicinity of the fur trade fort founded by Antoine de La Mothe Cadillac in 1701. But according to Mr. Glazebrook, “it is estimated that at the time of the American Revolution a hundred families lived on the Ontario shore.” Today and even in some places in 1968 most might want to rephrase at least one of Mr. Glazebrook’s sentences here. He could more aptly say, eg, “encourage the European-style agriculture of the St. Lawrence valley” in the Detroit area. Cadillac’s Detroit had been supported by Iroquoian cornfields (cleared by men, tended by women) from the start. The deeper truth was no doubt that here as elsewhere the government of New France was trying to strengthen its military grip in the middle of the 18th century. To this end it wanted more French Canadian settlers at Detroit. Which at that time and place meant French Canadian farmers.(And, on a completely different sidebar and as best as I can tell, Detroit for some reason does not appear on Joseph Pierre de Bonnecamps’s sometimes puzzling map of Céloron de Blainville’s 1749 Allegheny River journey.) See G. P. De T. Glazebrook, Life in Ontario : A Social History. Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 1968, 1971, 17-18.

Fred Anderson, Crucible of War : The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754–1766. New York : Random House/Vintage Books, 2000, 2001. The headings for Parts II to VI, pp. 77–422, give Anderson’s view of the war in a nutshell (and especially in North America) — Part II : Defeat, 1754–1755 ; Part III : Nadir, 1756–1757 ; Part IV : Turning Point, 1758 ; Part V : Annus Mirabilis, 1759 ; Part VI : Conquest Completed, 1760.

The rising politician William Pitt had already told the Duke of Devonshire in 1756 : “My Lord, I am sure I can save this country, and no one else can.”
Quoted in Horace Walpole, Memoirs of King George II (Yale University Press, 1985), III, p. 1.

For the “when Horace Walpole” quotation see Basil Williams, The Whig Supremacy, 1714–1760. Second Edition Revised by C.H. Stuart. (Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1939, 1962, 1974), 363.

W.J. Eccles, The Canadian Frontier 1534–1760. New York : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969. Albuquerque NM : The University of New Mexico Press, 1983.

___________, “RIGAUD DE VAUDREUIL DE CAVAGNIAL, PIERRE DE, Marquis de VAUDREUIL,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 1979.

L’Encyclopédie canadienne, “Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil de Cavagnial,”Article par Mary McDougall Maude, Clayton Ma, Date de publication en ligne le 6 juin 2007, Dernière modification le 27 avril 2021.

For “Vaudreuil saw the problem” see Anderson, Crucible of War, 346.

Christopher Moore, “Colonization and Conflict : New France and its Rivals 1600–1760″ in Craig Brown (ed), The Illustrated History of Canada (Toronto : Lester Publishing Limited, 1987, 1991), 183.

For “was no more a decisive battle than a brilliant one” see Anderson, Crucible of War, 365.

Simon Schama, “Simon Schama on Dead Certainties: ‘Historians shouldn’t make it up, but I did’,” The Independent, Friday 12 April 2013 12:19 BST.
“Wolfe’s death on the Plains of Abraham at the Battle of Quebec was perhaps the great heroic exemplum virtutis of the British Empire, with countless others to follow.”

For the “tradition of all the dead generations” quotation see Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte,” 1852 : “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living”.

For the slightly different translation from the original German cited here see Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte,” Die Revolution. New York, 1852. “Men make their own history , but they do not make it just as they please ; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves , but under circumstances directly encountered , given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living.” Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works. Moscow : Progress Publishers, 1968, 97.

Pontiac’s rebellion

For Fred Anderson on “Canada’s French and Indian peoples” see, eg, Crucible of War, 346.

Wikipedia, “Rogers’ Rangers … an independent company of colonial militia, attached to the British Army.”’_Rangers

Thomas Guthrie Marquis, The War Chief of the Ottawas: A Chronicle of the Pontiac War. Gloucester, UK : Dodo Press, 1915, 2008.

Howard Peckham, Pontiac and the Indian Uprising. Detroit : Wayne State University Press, 1947, 1994.

Milo Milton Quaife, ed, The Siege of Detroit in 1763 : The Journal of Pontiac’s Conspiracy and John Ruthe. Chicago : The Lakeside Press, 1958.

Louis Chevrette, “PONTIAC” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 1974.

Gregory Evans Dowd, War under Heaven : Pontiac, the Indian Nations, and the British Empire. Baltimore : Hopkins Press/Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.

Richard White, The Middle Ground : Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650–1815. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1991, 1993. 2nd edition, 2010, 2012, 143, 268.

Harold A. Innis, The Fur Trade in Canada : An Introduction to Canadian Economic History. New Haven : Yale University Press, 1930, 397; Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 1956, 1970, 392.

Francis Parkman, The Conspiracy of Pontiac and the Indian War After the Conquest of Canada. Volumes I, II. Toronto : George N. Morang, 1851, 1870, 1899.

______________, The Conspiracy of Pontiac and the Indian War after the Conquest of Canada, Volume 1. To the Massacre at Michillimackinac. Lincoln, NE : University of Nebraska Press, 1851, 1994.

______________, The Conspiracy of Pontiac and the Indian War after the Conquest of Canada, Volume 2. From the Spring of 1763 to the Death of Pontiac. Lincoln, NE : University of Nebraska Press, 1851, 1994.

James D. Drake, King Phillip’s War : Civil War in New England, 1675–1676. Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, 1999.

Parkman, Conspiracy of Pontiac, V I. Toronto : Morang, 1899, 263 : “I am a Frenchman and I wish to die a Frenchman.”

E.R. Adair, “The Evolution of Montreal Under the French Regime,” Report of the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Historical Association / Rapports annuels de la Société historique du Canada, 1942, 20-41.

Government of Canada, Royal Proclamation of 1763: Relationships, Rights and Treaties/250th Anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763

The Canadian Encyclopedia, “Royal Proclamation of 1763.” Article by
Anthony J. Hall, Updated by Gretchen Albers, Andrew McIntosh. Published Online February 7, 2006. Last Edited August 30, 2019.,following%20the%20Seven%20Years’%20War.

University of British Columbia, First Nations & Indigenous Studies, “Royal Proclamation, 1763.”,buy%20land%20from%20First%20Nations.

Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Law Library, “The Royal Proclamation — October 7, 1763.”

White, The Middle Ground, 268, 143.

The American Revolution

Wikipedia, “Letters to the inhabitants of Canada.”

The Canadian Encyclopedia, “American Revolution and Canada.” Article by D.N. Sprague. Updated by Richard Foot, Michelle Filice. Published Online February 6, 2006. Last Edited January 24, 2023.

Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. New York :Dover Publications, 1845, 1995.

Thomas A. Bailey, The American Pageant : A History of the Republic. Boston and Toronto : Little, Brown, 1956. Ch. 5–6, 84–124.

Samuel Eliot Morison, The Oxford History of the American People. New York : Oxford University Press, 1965. Ch. xiv–xvii, 205–269.

Jill Lepore, These Truths : A History of the United States. New York and London : W.W. Norton, 2018. Ch 3, esp 91–108.

George A. Rawlyk, “The American Revolution and Nova Scotia Reconsidered.” The Dalhousie Review, Volume 43, Number 3, 1963.

Heritage Newfoundland & Labrador, “Revolution Rejected? … Despite the initial hardships caused by the American Revolution — or perhaps because of them — the people of Newfoundland showed little interest or sympathy for the American cause.”

Innis, The Fur Trade in Canada , 1970, 391, 179.

Wikipedia, “History of Nova Scotia … American Revolution … the Nova Scotia government in Halifax was controlled by an Anglo-European mercantile elite for whom loyalty was more profitable than rebellion.”

White, The Middle Ground, 268.

Wikipedia, “Quebec Act .. 1774 (French: Acte de Québec de 1774) was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain which set procedures of governance in the Province of Quebec. One of the principal components of the Act was the expansion of the province’s territory to take over part of the Indian Reserve, including much of what is now southern Ontario, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and parts of Minnesota.”

Wikipedia, “Henri Bourassa.”

Henri Bourassa’s “We had to choose” is quoted eg in Barry K. Wilson, Benedict Arnold: A Traitor in Our Midst. Montreal & Kingston : McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2001, 100.

Simner, Marvin L., “A Misguided Attempt to Populate Upper Canada with Loyalists After the American Revolution” (2023). History Publications. 413.

University of New Brunswick Libraries, “Black Loyalists in New Brunswick, 1783-1854.”

R. Cole Harris (ed), Geoffrey J. Matthews (cartographer/designer), Historical Atlas of Canada, Volume I, From the Beginning to 1800. Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 1987, 80.

—————————, Historical Atlas of Canada, Volume II, The Land Transformed, 1800–1891. Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 1993, 24–25.

Graeme Wynn, “On the Margins of Empire 1760–1840” in Craig Brown, ed., The Illustrated History of Canada. Toronto : Lester Publishing , 1987, 1991, 217–221. Montreal & Kingston : McGill–Queen’s University Press, 2012, 211–215.–25th-anniversary-edition–the-products-9780773540897.php

Seymour Martin Lipset, Continental Divide : The Values and Institutions of the United States and Canada. New York and London, 1990

Innis, The Fur Trade in Canada , 1970, Ch. 8.

Adair, “The Evolution of Montreal Under the French Regime,” Report of the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Historical Association, 1942.

Innis, The Fur Trade in Canada , 1970, 180.

H.A. Innis, Peter Pond : Fur Trader and Adventurer. Toronto : Irwin & Gordon, 1930.

Marjorie Wilkins Campbell, The North West Company. Toronto : Macmillan, 1957, 1973, 1.

Innis, The Fur Trade in Canada , 1970, 262.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Leave Comment