French & Indian Wars against the British, which preceded the Boston Tea Party

Bill Federer

England and France had fought from the time of Richard the Lionheart and Philip II after the 3rd Crusade in the 12th century, up to the 19th century between the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.

In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, tensions between Britain and France increased in Europe, and erupted in their respective colonies in North America.

Fighting was initially over the fur trade, then over territorial control of the Great Lakes, the Ohio River Valley, and the Mississippi River Valley.

Siding with either France or Britain were Indian tribes, such as:

Iroquois, Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Catawba, Seneca, Tuscarora, Erie, Susquehannock, Cherokee, Mi'kmaq, Abenaki, Wabanaki, Algonquin, Lenape, Ojibwa, Ottawa, Shawnee, Pennacook, and Wyandot (Huron).

Wars included:

1629-1701, Beaver Wars (French and Iroquois Wars);

1688-1697, King William's War (1st Intercolonial War);

1702-1713, Queen Anne's War (2nd Intercolonial War);

1722-1725, Father Rale's War (Dummer's War);

1744–1748, King George's War (3rd Intercolonial War, or War of Jenkins' Ear);

1749-1755, Father Le Loutre's War (Micmac War);

1754–1763, French and Indian War (4th Intercolonial War);

An example of the tragedies experienced in these wars was in 1697, during King William's War.

Abenaki warriors from Québec raided a frontier English colonial settlement in Haverhill, Massachusetts, killing 27, mostly children, and capturing 13.

Among those led away captive was Hannah Duston, carrying her infant daughter. The account recorded by Cotton Mather stated:

"About 19 or 20 Indians now led these away, with about half a score of other English captives, but ere they had gone many steps, they dash'd out the brains of the infant against a tree, and several of the other captives, as they began to tire in the sad journey, were soon sent unto their long home."

The captives were temporarily held on an island in the Merrimack River, near present-day Boscawen, New Hampshire. There they were suffered being "stript, and scourg'd, and (forced to) run the gauntlet through the whole army of Indians."

One night, Hannah stealthily led some of the captives to revolt, "... furnishing themselves with hatchets for the purpose, they struck home such blows upon the heads of their sleeping oppressors, that ere they could any of them struggle ... they fell down dead."

They immediately jumped in a canoe, but not before scalping the dead as proof of the incident. Frantically paddling downstream for several days, they finally made it back to Haverhill.

Hannah Duston's ordeal was written about by Yale President Timothy Dwight IV, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Henry David Thoreau.

A statue commemorating Hannah Duston is near the Haverhill Center Congregational Church, where she was a member.

By the 1750s, Britain and France fought in western Pennsylvania.

In 1753, the British Governor of Virginia, Robert Dinwiddie, sent 21-year-old Major George Washington to deliver a message to the French, telling them to leave.

Instead, the French built Fort Duquesne, near present-day Pittsburgh.

In 1754, Governor Dinwiddie promoted Washington to Lieutenant Colonel and instructed him to raise a militia to confront the French.

Washington, with 40 British militia and 12 Mingo warriors ambushed a small force of 35 French Canadians led by Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville.

One of the Indians buried his tomahawk in the head of Jumonville, instantly killing him.

Washington retreated and hurriedly constructed Fort Necessity.

He was soon surrounded by the French and forced to surrender.

This incident sparked the French and Indian War with the British.

In 1755, the British expelled the French from Acadia and Nova Scotia.

Many resettled in French Louisiana near New Orleans.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the epic poem "Evangeline," memorializing the tragic fate of the French Acadians.

In Louisiana, the name Acadian became pronounced "cajun."

In July of 1755, the French and Indians ambushed 1,400 British troops headed for Fort Duquesne in the Battle of Monongahela,

900 British were killed, including General Braddock, leaving Colonel George Washington in charge of the retreat.

The French and Indian War quickly went global, being called the Seven Years War.

The web of alliances that Britain and France had with other countries entangled much of the world in war.

Britain's allies included Prussia, Hanover, Hesse, Brunswick, Schaumberg, Portugal, and Iroquois.

France's allies included Austria, Russia, Sweden, Saxony, Spain and India's Mughal Empire.

It is considered to be the first "world" war, as fighting over control of trade took place in:

  • Canada and America;

  • Cuba, the Caribbean islands, Columbia, Brazil, Uruguay and other areas of South America;

  • Europe: Britain, Ireland, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Saxony, Prussia, Russia, the Baltic, and the Mediterranean;

  • Bengal, India, West Africa, and the Philippines.

Some of the major battles in India, Bengal, and the East were:

  • First Carnatic War 1745-1748;

  • Second Carnatic War 1749-1754;

  • Third Carnatic War 1756-1763;

  • Battle of Plassey 1757;

  • Battle of Buxar 1764.

The Seven Years War ended in 1763, resulting in France losing territories around the world, including Canada and all their land in America east of the Mississippi River.

To prevent French land west of the Mississippi from falling into British hands, France secretly ceded the Louisiana Territory to Spain with the Treaty of Fontainebleau, 1762.

Many French fled across the Mississippi River to settle the cities of St. Louis and St. Charles.

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After the French and Indian war, King George III to decided to keep troops in the American colonies in case of future attacks by the French or their Indian allies.

To fund these troops, the King needed to raise money, and therefore taxes were levied on the colonies.

These taxes stifled the American economy:

  • SUGAR ACT of 1764 - taxing sugar, coffee, wine;

  • STAMP ACT of 1765 - taxing newspapers, contracts, letters, playing cards and all printed materials; and

  • TOWNSHEND ACTS of 1767, taxing glass, paint and paper.

The British Government imposed BILLS OF ATTAINDER, which were like IRS audits, with the force of executive order and martial law.

Instances escalated of citizens' civil rights being nullified, their property confiscated and punishments imposed without the benefit of a trial.

James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 44:

"BILLS OF ATTAINDER ... are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation ...

The sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy ... They have seen with regret and indignation that sudden changes and legislative interferences, in cases affecting personal rights, become ... snares."

The King also imposed WRITS OF ASSISTANCE, beginning in 1761, to stop smuggling, but these gave government agents unlimited power to enter any colonist's home without warning, with no warrant or probable cause, and arrest them.

This is similar to modern-day governments weaponizing intelligence gathering to punish citizens who oppose their agendas.

WRITS OF ASSISTANCE empowered government officials to detain anyone indefinitely, evict them from their home, seize their farm, and confiscate their property -- all of this without due process.

In the Massachusetts Superior Court, in February 24, 1761, James Otis, Jr., spoke against the Writs of Assistance for nearly five hours.

James Otis argued:

"I will to my dying day oppose with all the powers and faculties God has given me all such instruments of slavery on the one hand, and villainy on the other, as this WRIT OF ASSISTANCE is.

It appears to me the worst instrument of arbitrary power, the most destructive of English liberty and the fundamental principles of law."

A young attorney in attendance in the courtroom was John Adams, who described James Otis' speech

"... as the spark in which originated the American Revolution."

Thirty years later, John Adams wrote of witnessing James Otis' speech:

"The child independence was then and there born, (for) every man of an immense crowded audience appeared to me to go away as I did, ready to take arms against WRITS OF ASSISTANCE."

James Otis favored extending basic natural law and freedoms of life, liberty and property to African Americans. He is noted for stating:

"Those who every day barter away other men's liberty will soon care little for their own."

"If we are not represented, we are slaves."

"A man's house is his castle."

"Taxation without representation is tyranny."

His sister was Mercy Otis Warren, who wrote in 1788:

"The origin of all power is in the people, and they have an incontestable right to check the creatures of their own creation."

Adding to the growing sentiment, Patrick Henry argued in support of farmers against the burdensome taxes supporting the King's Anglican Church, in a case known as the Parsons Cause, December 1763.

Being his first major public appearance, Henry sent shock waves, declaring:

"that a King, by disallowing Acts of this salutary nature, from being the father of his people, degenerated into a Tyrant and forfeits all right to his subjects' obedience."

In 1765, in opposition to the Stamp Act, Patrick Henry alarmed the world by proposing Resolutions in the Virginia House of Burgesses by directly opposing Parliament.

The Resolves, which were reprinted across America and in Britain, included:

"Resolved, therefore, That the General Assembly of this Colony ... have ... the only exclusive Right and Power to lay Taxes ... upon the inhabitants of this Colony:

And that every attempt to vest such power in any other person ... than the General Assembly aforesaid, is illegal, unconstitutional and unjust, and have a manifest tendency to destroy ... American Liberty."

As the Colonies had no representative in Parliament, the cry arose,

"No taxation without representation."

In 1768, the British began forcibly "quartering" their troops in American homes, as there were no barracks, leaving families to fend for themselves in their barns, basements or attics.

When citizens gathered in protest, March 5, 1770, British troops fired into crowd, killing five, one of which was the African American patriot Crispus Attucks.

This became known as the Boston Massacre.

Just three years later, in 1773, the British imposed yet another tax with the "Tea Act."

Like modern-day secret trade deals rushed through Congress without public debate, giving multi-national corporations monopolies on trade, the King of England had his own version of "crony-capitalism."

The King allowed the financially troubled British East India Company to sell a half million pounds of tea from China's Qing Dynasty in the Colonies with no taxes, giving them a monopoly as they could undersell American merchants, many of whom sold tea smuggled in by the Dutch.

Tea was the most popular drink in the Colonies, and this act would allow the British to bypass any middlemen, thus putting many American merchants out of business.

Colonists, though, still had to pay the Townsend taxes on the tea, which, by doing so, would make them legally acquiescing to pay all future taxes that Parliament would chose to levy on the colonists.

The citizens of Boston had enough.

On DECEMBER 16, 1773, Samuel Adams and a band of patriots, called the "Sons of Liberty," left Boston's Old South Meeting House dressed as Mohawk Indians, and marched down to Griffin's Wharf.

They boarded the ships Dartmouth, Eleanor and Beaver, and threw 342 chests of British tea into Boston's harbor.

This became known as the Boston Tea Party.

This infuriated the King, who responded by punishing the colonies with the Coercive Acts:

  • Boston Port Act (June 1, 1774);

  • Quartering Act (June 2, 1774);

  • Administration of Justice Act (May 20, 1774);

  • Massachusetts Government Act (May 20, 1774); followed by the

  • The Quebec Act (June 22, 1774), which confiscated western lands owned by Americans, causing other colonies, especially Virginia, to side with Massachusetts.

The men of Marlborough, Massachusetts, declared:

"Death is more eligible than slavery.

A free-born people are not required by the religion of Jesus Christ to submit to tyranny, but may make use of such power as God has given them to recover and support their liberties ...

We implore the Ruler above the skies that He would bare His arm ... and let Israel go."

In the British Parliament, April 19, 1774, Edmund Burke warned that these Acts to punish the colonies will backfire on the British:

"Could anything be a subject of more just alarm to America ...

No commodity will bear three-pence (tax) ... The general feelings of men are irritated, and two millions of people are resolved not to pay. The feelings of the Colonies were formerly the feelings of Great Britain ...

The Americans are unable and unwilling to bear ... To join together the restraints of a universal ... monopoly, with a universal ... taxation, is an unnatural union; perfect uncompensated slavery.

Again, and again, revert to your own principles—Seek Peace, and ensue it — leave America, if she has taxable matter in her, to tax herself."

Almost 200 years later, in Boston, July 25, 1951, General Douglas MacArthur addressed Massachusetts State Legislature:

"It was the adventurous spirit of Americans which despite risks and hazards carved a great nation from an almost impenetrable wilderness ...

This adventurous spirit is now threatened as it was in the days of the Boston Tea Party by an unconscionable burden of taxation ...

No nation may survive in freedom once its people become servants of the State ..."

MacArthur concluded his Boston address:

"It is not of any external threat that I concern myself but rather of insidious forces working from within which have already so drastically altered the character of our free institutions ...

We must unite in the high purpose that the liberties etched upon the design of our life by our forefathers be unimpaired

and that we maintain the moral courage and spiritual leadership to preserve inviolate that mighty bulwark of all freedom, our Christian faith."


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