Washington ordered his men to construct a fort as a meager means of defense from attack. This fort would be called Fort Necessity. Fort Necessity was poorly constructed and located in a terrible position. The surrounding forest made it possible for the French and Indian attackers to approach the fort without being seen. Washington and his men were forced to surrender.
The French captured Washington and his men and forced Washington to sign an admission of attack. In this admission, which was written in French, Washington unknowingly admitted to assassinating the leader of the reconnaissance party. Although Washington could not read French, he signed the documents. All educated and sophisticated men could read French, and for Washington to admit to not being able to read French would be degrading to himself.
The French let Washington and his men march out after the admission was signed. Washington returned to Virginia a hero and, while undeclared, the colonies knew that war had begun. This war would become known as the French and Indian War.
In 1755 Britain sent General Edward Braddock to defend the colonies and capture Fort Duquesne. Braddock appointed Washington as second in command of his British troops. With over 1400 troops, Braddock marched against Fort Duquesne, only to be ambushed by a party of French and Indian soldiers totaling a mere fraction of his troops. Braddock was killed in combat along with 900 of his troops, leaving Washington in charge and responsible for marching the men back to Virginia.
The British followed this defeat by more and more. Although the British outnumbered the French and Indians, they were poorly organized and failed to use the resources that surrounded them. Indians would attack the British troops while they were marching, by hiding in trees and attacking from all sides.
In 1756, the conflict spread to Europe. Britain still was incapable of winning battles even home their home front. It wasn’t until 1758 when King George II appointed William Pitt as Prime Minister did the war efforts take a turn for the better. In the winter of 1758 Fort Duquesne fell to the British. The Indians break their alliance with the French, and the British gain the support of the Iriquois.
The America colonists still did not support the war. Benjamin Franklin had rallied support for the war before it started. He was responsible for the Albany Plan of Union, and promoted it in his newspaper. The colonists, however, did not support the war until Pitt agreed to compensate the colonies monetarily for their support in the war.
In 1759, the British capture Quebec. The French abandoned Canada in 1760 after the British had captured Montreal.
Peace was restored in 1763 after the Treaty of Paris was signed. The terms of the treaty forced the French to abandon all land claims in North America.
With a great empire and more territory, the colonists continued to expand their land claims westward. An Ottawa chief named Pontiac made one last effort to push the colonists back eastward across the mountains. The effort was called Pontiac’s Rebellion, and ended in failure. By 1764 most of the western tribes had accepted the peace terms of the Proclamation of 1763. It was in this proclamation that British soldiers created a barrier between the colonists and Indians, preventing westward expansion. The outraged colonists were assured that the agreement was only temporary, but once Britain realized that preventing expansion would save them money talk of the agreement being temporary ceased.
In 1764 the British passed the Sugar Act under the leadership of George Grenville, which placed tariffs on sugar, coffee, wines, and other goods imported into America. The British were suddenly enforcing laws that had pertained to trade. Violators of the Sugar Act would be tried before British naval officers in military courts.
Patrick Henry began speaking out against taxation without representation. The colonies had no representation in British Parliament, and therefore had no say in what laws governed them and what taxed could be placed upon them. John Locke philosophized that the colonists had the right to revolt against the government.
British presence in the colonies was growing by the day. The colonists were forced to give British troops quarter in the Quartering Act. The Stamp Act in 1765 placed a direct tax on all printed documents or items. A stamp was required to be placed on a printed document in order to make it legal. It was after the Stamp Act that the Sons of Liberty was organized. The Sons of Liberty consisted of Sam Adams, Paul Revere, and William Dawes and could effectively be described as a terrorist organization.
The Stamp Act Congress was formed in order to promote resistance to purchasing British goods. Merchants who did business with England were exposed for their acts and labeled scoundrels. Eventually, the Stamp Act was lifted in 1766 due to boycotts by the colonies and George Grenville is replaced by Rockingham as Prime Minister.
The Declaratory Act was passed stating that the colonies were inferior to the mother land and were subject to the enforcement of government. It was obvious at this time that ideas of government were different between the colonies and England.
In 1767 Charles Townshend creates more indirect taxes called the Townshend Acts. The Townshend Acts placed taxes on lead, paint, tea, paper, and glass. The colonists once again decided to boycott the tax and due to the near non-existance of British imports by 1770, the acts were repealed. Parliament did, however, keep a pence tax on tea.
On March 3, 1770 and outbreak of violence occurred in Boston. The outbreak was called the Boston Massacre and involved British troops firing onto a crowd of unarmed colonists. John Adams was the lawyer for the British troops in the trial that removed British military presence from Boston.
From 1770 to 1773, tensions between the colonists and England calmed down. Then in 1773 Parliament passes the Tea Act. The Tea Act was not a tax, it stated that the tea tax was removed from tea bought from the East India Tea Company and could be purchased directly by colonists. Lord North was responsible for passing the Tea Act that would be greatly resisted by colonist merchants. The Sons of Liberty were responsible for sneaking onto the ships containing the tea and dumping it into Boston Harbor (Boston Tea Party).
Parliament passed the Coersion Acts (Intolerable Acts) in response to the Boston Tea Party. The Coersion Acts said that: Boston Harbor was officially closed to business, unlawful acts were to be punished in England, Bostonians could not elect government officials, and troops were to be stationed in areas of resistance.
Thomas Gage was appointed governor of Boston and Hutchinson is removed from office. The colonists form a new congress to refuse British imports. They also raise a colonial militia called the minute men to protect the colonies from British soldiers. The colonies create an arsenal and form a network to warn of British attack.
Thomas Gage orders troops into the countryside at night to Concord to confiscate the weapons and ammunition from the colonists. Once the colonists were aware of what was happening, night riders were sent to warn of the British advancement. Lexington was the site of the first shots of the American Revolution and once the British troops were at Concord the arsenal had been relocated. The troops were now without the cloak on the night and in the middle of very resistant colonists. The troops took fire from colonial militia and fled back to Boston.
The American Revolution had begun.