Battle for a Continent
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Battle for a Continent
Rumblings of War
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Clashes in the Ohio Valley
In the mid-eighteenth century, France controlled the largest part of the North American continent.
In the mid 1700s, native people in the Ohio Valley feared that settlers from the American colonies would drive them off their land. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
In the mid 1700s, native people in the Ohio Valley feared that settlers from the American colonies would drive them off their land. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
A Catholic, French-speaking society of 55,000 was centred in the cities of Quebec and Montreal, in the fortress of Louisbourg, and spread thinly through villages along the St. Lawrence and in small forts that advanced their territory into the interior. France also controlled the west. It was a frail empire that ran from Detroit to Louisiana at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

The much more populous English colonies, from Halifax to Savannah, were hemmed in by the French and the Allegheny Mountains, a source of great frustration and bitterness to the English settlers.

The Indians lived uneasily among both groups – two hundred nations that were increasingly resentful of the English presence. Many were allied with the French, though it was a fragile alliance.
Benjamin Franklin is portrayed by Leon Pownall in Canada: A People's History
Benjamin Franklin is portrayed by Leon Pownall in Canada: A People's History
And the Indians themselves were fractured along traditional battlelines.

In the 14 colonies of British America, economies were booming and the population was doubling in size every decade. There was only one direction to expand – over the mountains to the west into the Indian homelands and the land claimed by the French as Canada. Thousands of settlers from the American colonies streamed into the richest part of the interior – the Ohio Valley, where clashes broke out in the summer of 1754. The Indians saw a dark intent behind the tide. A Delaware chief wrote "...We have great reason to believe you intend to drive us away and settle the country or else why do you come and fight in the Land God has given us..."

The fears of the natives were well founded.
Soon, fueled by the Pennsylvania Gazette and its publisher's vision for the future, politicians, merchants and speculators all wanted a part of the Ohio Valley. Benjamin Franklin, convinced of the colonies' destiny, intended to see their one million people grow to cover the continent with one language and one religion: unified, English and Protestant.

Franklin wrote: "This Million doubling, supposed but once in 25 years, will in another Century be more than the People of England, and the greatest Number of Englishmen will be on this Side of the Water."

The French and the Indians considered the American settlers invaders and burned many out of their homes on the Canadian frontier.
Three thousand settlers were killed or captured, thousands more driven away.

With the fighting over expansion and the burnings in the Ohio Valley, North America was becoming a regular and bloody battleground, a prelude to what would become Europe's most monumental confrontation, the Seven Years' War (1756-63).


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Battle for a Continent
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Introduction
Rumblings of War
Clashes in the Ohio Valley
French and English sever diplomatic ties
Acadian Expulsion
The Governor and the General
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Louis-Antoine de Bougainville's journal

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