Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766

Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766

Fred Anderson

Language: English

Pages: 912

ISBN: 0375706364

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In this vivid and compelling narrative, the Seven Years' War–long seen as a mere backdrop to the American Revolution–takes on a whole new significance. Relating the history of the war as it developed, Anderson shows how the complex array of forces brought into conflict helped both to create Britain’s empire and to sow the seeds of its eventual dissolution.

Beginning with a skirmish in the Pennsylvania backcountry involving an inexperienced George Washington, the Iroquois chief Tanaghrisson, and the ill-fated French emissary Jumonville, Anderson reveals a chain of events that would lead to world conflagration. Weaving together the military, economic, and political motives of the participants with unforgettable portraits of Washington, William Pitt, Montcalm, and many others, Anderson brings a fresh perspective to one of America’s most important wars, demonstrating how the forces unleashed there would irrevocably change the politics of empire in North America.

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Pennsylvanians had done their best to set the Indians against the Virginians, and the Virginians had done their best to return the compliment. Even the close cooperation between the Ohio Company’s man, Christopher Gist, and George Croghan, the “king of the Pennsylvania traders,” at the Logstown council had nothing to do with solidarity between the groups. In fact, the Philadelphia assets of Croghan’s trading partnership had lately been seized in bankruptcy proceedings, and he had fled to avoid

young man who presented it with equal parts amusement and concern. “The lands upon the River Ohio,” he read in the governor’s letter, are so notoriously known to be the property of the Crown of Great Britain that it is a matter of equal concern and surprise to me, to hear that a body of French forces are erecting fortresses and making settlements upon that river, within his Majesty’s dominions. The many and repeated complaints I have received of these acts of hostility lay me under the necessity

the passage was vague enough to admit the possibility that grants would be possible anywhere within the limits of the colonies and open to provincials as well as regulars. Given the enormous numbers of men who had served as provincials and the expansive patents of colonies like Virginia and Connecticut, provinces full of enthusiastic speculators, these provisions promised to create vast complications for a king whose stated wish was only “to testify our royal sense and approbation of the conduct

Shirleysburg, Pennsylvania), George Croghan’s frontier trading post. There he would die, on October 4, the victim of a disease that his followers suspected was witchcraft. Before he died he would be heard to say that Washington was “a good-natured man, but had no Experience,” and that despite his utter lack of familiarity with woodland warfare and with Indians, he was “always driving them on to fight by his Directions.” 19 Who in his right mind would fight for such a man? Washington regretted

cases, the disciplinary parenting responsibilities belonged to mothers and maternal uncles.) The word “father” resonated very differently for Europeans— whose kinship structures were patrilineal and who thought in terms of patriarchal power— than for Indians in matrilineally organized cultures. As the French experience suggests, however, divergent meanings could open a path to fruitful intercultural relations, built creatively out of mutual misunderstanding; but this could happen only if the

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