My nine year-old daughter, Clara, came downstairs this morning, and before saying another word, asked, “Dad, what started the French and Indian War?”
Why my daughter would start her day with this question is beyond me.
“Did you know,” I said, “that the French and Indian War wasn’t actually between …”
“I know, I know,” Clara said. “The French and Indians were fighting the British. I know that. I want to know what started the war.”
Just like that, she had stripped me of my best French and Indian War fact. But I was not to be deterred.
“Did you know that the war was also called..”
“Yes, the Seven Years War,” she said. “I know that, too.” Now she sounded annoyed. “I want to know what started the war.”
I told Clara that I thought the war began over the fight for land. “I think the French and the British were fighting over land in the west and control the fur trade in those areas.”
“You think?” she said. “Let’s look it up.”
So at 6:10 AM, with many other things to do, Clara and I did a deep dive on the French and Indian War. We discovered that I was correct. Though there are always many reasons for war, the control of disputed land in North America was the primary cause.
We also learned that 22 year-old George Washington led the first attack against the French at the Battle of Jumonville Glen.
We learned that the war began in North America in 1754 but expanded to Europe in 1756.
We learned that Britain gained control of parts of Canada, which was populated with 80,000 French residents, and that those people were deported following the war to make the land available to immigrants from Europe and migrants from the colonies to the south.
“What a bummer for them,” Clara said.
Then I finally taught Clara something that she didn’t know. I explained that the French and Indian War cost Great Britain a lot of money, and to pay off their debt, the Crown tried to impose new taxes on its colonies. These attempts were met with resistance, until troops were called in to enforce the Crown's authority. These acts ultimately led to the start of the American Revolutionary War.
Great Britain won the French and Indian War, but it ultimately led to the loss of British colonies in North America and the birth of the United Stares.
“Cool,” Clara said and then skipped away. It was 6:35 AM, and she had to go learn about the composition of Neptune on Ready Jet Go.
Hydrogen, helium, and methane, if you were wondering.