French and Indian War

The French and Indian war lasted from 1754-1763 and was the last in a series of battles between the British and the French for control of North American lands and territories. Although fought between two European powers, the term french and indian war was coined in response to the Native American allies who joined the fighting to lend allegiance to the respective colonial powers, depending on tribal affiliation.  A dispute over land, the french and indian war would also determine if Britain could secure a dominant position in the new Americas and was ultimately successful in stripping France of all its North American territories. Although a seeming victory for the Brits, the removal of the French from the New World actually wound up facilitating the American Revolution in which Britain lost control of its American colonies.

The french and indian war began as a struggle for the Ohio Valley which was dominated at the time by the Confederacy of Iroquois. To gain an ally in the region, the British sent fur traders to befriend the Iroquois and to establish friendly relations between the groups. It was the British who ordered the French to stay out of the Ohio Valley, prompting France to reinforce its forts in the area and expel the Brits from the region forcibly. Not only was lucrative fur trading at stake, but both colonial powers began to realize the importance of this region in securing a stronghold in America. The British retaliation was successful at first, but they were subsequently forced to retreat back to Virginia by the advancing French.

In response to the impending war, the British convened in Albany, New York in June of 1754 with delegates from all colonies, as well as the leaders of the Iroquois Nation. After bestowing gifts and promises of land upon the Native Americans, the Iroquois agreed to fight for the British in what is now known as the french and indian war.

Another important development came out of these Albany meetings, however, and was devised by Benjamin Franklin who called it the Albany Plan. The Albany plan proposed a single governing body of the British colonies in America with delegates deciding on matters of trade, defense and Native American relations. Although never implemented, the Albany Plan was a show of autonomy which would eventually turn into the American Revolution.