We all might think that the French and Indian War (1754 – 1763) was the first American war against what we now call Native Americans. It wasn’t because at the time, we – the descendants of our Founding Fathers – were British citizens. The colonists who fought in French and Indian War were soldiers in just one theater of a global war that was contested in the Caribbean, Continental Europe and India as well as North America.
Depending on where one lives, the Seven Years War has a different name. In the United States and English speaking Canada, we refer to it as the French and Indian War. In Quebec, it is known as La guerre de la Conquête or War of the Conquest. In Sweden, historians call it the Pomeranian War because it only fought the Prussians in and the Duchy of Pomerania which was located on the south side of the Baltic in now what is Germany and Poland.
The Germans call it the Third Silesian War. The First took place between 1740 – 1741 and Second Silesian War between 1743 – 1744. And, if one lives in India, the Seven Years War is known as the Third Carnatic War. The First Carnactic War took place between 1746 and 1748 and the second was fought 1749 – 1754.
In the Seven Years War, the French and the British were fighting over control of colonial possessions in the Caribbean, North America and India as well as who would be the dominant land power in Europe. The victor would be the superpower of the era.
On this side of the Atlantic, colonists joined the British Army and the local militia because, as English citizens they had a historical dislike of the French that started centuries before in 1066 when William the Conqueror, Frenchman defeated the English King Harold at the Battle of Hastings. Since that battle, the English and the French fought 13 different wars before the Seven Years War!
The Treaty of Paris that ended the Seven Years War resulted in a tectonic shift of what country owned what piece of land in North America. French Canada went to the British. Spain ceded what is now Florida to the British and France gave what we now call the Louisiana territory to Spain.
Fast forward to the end of the American Revolution. The United States is born and its citizens want to move westward into the territory given to them by the Treaty of Paris signed in 1783 that gave the new nation all of the British territory east of the Mississippi, north of the ill-defined boundary of Florida (more about this in a later blog) and south of what we know as Canada.
One problem with the treaty was that the British didn’t tell their Native American allies who resisted. To protect the American citizens Americans pushing west past the Appalachian Mountains, the Congress created the Legion of the United States.
From 1792 until was disbanded in 1796, its primary mission was to protect American citizens on the frontier. They was our first war against the Native Americans, or our first Indian War!