British And French Clash
While the British had been filling the Atlantic coastal area with farms, plantations, and towns, the French had been planting a different kind of dominion in the St. Lawrence Valley in eastern Canada. Having sent over fewer settlers but more explorers, missionaries, and fur traders, France had taken possession of the Mississippi River and, by a line of forts and trading posts, marked out a great crescent-shaped empire stretching from Quebec in the northeast to New Orleans in the south. Thus they tended to pin the British to the narrow belt east of the Appalachian Mountains.
The British had long resisted what they considered "the encroachment of the French." As early as 1613, local clashes occurred between French and English colonists. Eventually, there was organized warfare, the American counterpart of the larger conflict between England and France. Thus, between 1689 and 1697, "King William's War" was fought as the American phase of the European "War of the Palatinate." From 1702 to 1713, "Queen Anne's War" corresponded to the "War of the Spanish Succession." And from 1744 to 1748, "King George's War" paralleled the "War of the Austrian Succession." Though England secured certain advantages from these wars, the struggles were generally indecisive, and France remained in a strong position on the American continent.
In the 1750s, the conflict was brought to a final phase. The French, after the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, tightened their hold on the Mississippi Valley. At the same time, the movement of English colonists across the Alleghenies increased in tempo, stimulating a race for physical possession of the same territory. An armed clash in 1754, involving Virginia militiamen under the command of 22-year old George Washington and a band of French regulars, ushered in the "French and Indian War" - with the English and their Indian allies fighting the French and their Indian allies. This was destined to determine once and for all French or English supremacy in North America.
Never had there been greater need for action and unity in the British colonies. The French threatened not only the British Empire but the American colonists themselves, for in holding the Mississippi Valley, France could check their westward expansion. The French government of Canada and Louisiana had not only increased in strength but had also in prestige with the Indians, even the Iroquois, the traditional allies of the British. With a new war, every British settler wise in Indian matters knew that drastic measures would be needed to ward off disaster.