Winston S. Churchill called the Seven Years' War, known in America as the French and Indian War, the first world war… eventually spanning five continents and involved France, Britain, Spain, Prussia, Austria, Russia, Sweden, as well as many Native American tribes. The war was officially sparked when 22-year-old Lieutenant Colonel George Washington of the Virginia Militia was sent in 1754 by the governor of Virginia as an envoy to the French, warning them to stay away from the area around today’s Pittsburgh. The French refused. On the way home from his failed diplomatic mission, Washington and his men skirmished on July 3, 1754 at Fort Necessity (which Washington ordered constructed) …leading to his first and only surrender!
We all know of Washington’s hard-fought success in the Revolutionary War and as the county’s first President. This course brings into focus Washington’s involvement in the French and Indian War and as well as the important British campaigns of General Braddock (1755) and General Forbes (1758) to take the French stronghold at Fort Duquesne leading ultimately to British victory and the Treaty of Paris. Signed in 1762, the British were awarded Canada, Louisiana, and Florida opening up North America to western expansion. Our own Trenton’s Old Barracks, constructed during the war in 1758, was built by the colony of New Jersey in direct response to petitions from residents who were protesting compulsory quartering of soldiers in their own homes.
In addition to the lectures, a suggested reading list will allow students to delve deeper into specific areas of interest.
- Braddock’s Defeat: The Battle of the Monongahela and the Road to Revolution, David L. Preston, Oxford University Press, 2015
- George Washington: Gentleman Warrior, Stephen Brumwell, Quercus Books, 2012.
- On Campaign Against Fort Duquesne: The Braddock and Forbes Expeditions, 1755-1758, through the Experiences of Quartermaster Sir John St. Clair, Douglas R. Cubbison, McFarland & Company, 2010
- The British Defeat of the French in Pennsylvania, 1758: A Military History of the Forbes Campaign Against Fort Duquesne, Douglas R. Cubbison, McFarland & Company, 2010
- To Risk it All: General Forbes, the Capture of Fort Duquesne, and the Course of Empire in the Ohio Country, Michael McConnell, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020.