Thursday, July 17, 2008
1.King George’s War, as it was known in the colonies, was fought from 1744 to 1748. Its European counterpart was known as the War of Austrian Succession. and it actually has a starting date of 1740. It was touched off with the death of Charles VI, the Holy Roman Emperor where a succession crisis resulted in France, Prussia, and Spain taking up arms against the British. While the European details of this nice little war are very interesting I usually stick to the events in the colonies for my fourth graders.
2.You might have heard of the French and Indian War. It is often taught in conjunction with events leading up to the American Revolution, however, there were actually four such French and Indian Wars dating back to 1689, and King George’s War is the third one.
3. Events in North America actually kicked of in 1739 with a series of skirmishes known as the War of Jenkin’s Ear which was between the Spanish and the British. The events were mainly confined to the Caribbean Sea and in the Georgia colony. When France became an ally of Spain in 1744 the matter escalated into King George’s War.
4. Warfare developed in the American colonies in 1744 when the French attacked a British position at Canso, Nova Scotia. Canso was an important New England fishery. During the 1720s and 1730s it employed over 3,000 fishermen. Since it was only sixty miles by sea from Louisbourg, a major French stronghold, the French felt threatened by the British presence and attacked Canso.
5. With only eighty-seven soldiers defending rudimentary fortifications, the British surrendered after a short bombardment and minimal resistance. The French destroyed both the fortifications and the settlement and took the garrison, their families, and a few fishermen back to Louisbourg as prisoners.
6. The French also attempted to recapture Port Royal (Annapolis Royal), but failed.
7. One major accomplishment of the British during the war was to seize Fort Louisbourg in 1745. It was a French fortress located on Cape Breton Island, located at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. The image with this post is the shoreline at Cape Breton.
8. In order to take the fort a force of more than 4,000 men was raised under William Pepperrell, a wealthy merchant from Maine. Assigned the daunting task of taking Louisbourg, they would shortly assault what was regarded as the most secure position in North America.
9. Sir Peter Warren and his naval contingent provided valuable assistance by preventing reinforcements from reaching the French fort. A two-month siege ended in June when British soldiers staged a heroic (and almost comic) raid on the fortress, forcing its capitulation. George II later rewarded Pepperrell with a baronetcy, the first American colonist so honored.
10. Fort Louisbourg was a very important location for the French to hold and prime real estate for the British to capture. Why? The St. Lawrence River gave the French an important route to move goods and people inland. From Fort Louisbourg French settlers could set out for Quebec and Montreal….two towns that depended on access to the Atlantic Ocean.
11. Once Fort Louisbourg was captured by the British the fur trade that the French and their Indian alllies depended upon was disrupted. The movement of manufactured European goods into the hands of French merchants was also disrupted. Now they had nothing to trade with Native American to maintain their allies. Native Americans in the Ohio River Valley quickly became the trading partners of British merchants who gladly stepped in to fill the void.
12. The treaty I highlighted yesterday (printed by none other than Benjamin Franklin) in my wordless image seen here resulted in the Iroquois and an intercolonial force forming in northern New York for an attack against Canada. Though the forces camped at Albany for the entire winter, the regulars never arrived resulting in a thwarted attack against Canada.
13. Peace was achieved with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. In return for receiving Madras in India, the British returned Louisbourg to the French, thus nullifying the greatest victory American forces had ever won. Anger in the colonies was so great that London responded by reimbursing the colonial governments for funds spent earlier on the Pepperrell campaign.
It would be another 15 years before the disputes between the French and the British were finally settled. Fighting resumed in 1754 between the two adversaries in North America with the outbreak of the French and Indian War (yes, the one most of us know about). The war speread to Europe two years later and is remembered as the Seven Years War.
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