This Week in History: Seven Years War Begins in 1756

 

Well, 1754 actually — but everything else about this war is confusing too.

We call it the French and Indian War here in the U.S. — but that name vastly under-represents the global nature of it, involving all European powers including Russia, fought on 4 continents, and ending with 1.3 million dead, mostly civilians.

This was actually the first World War, as this video makes very clear.

Seven Years War Summarized on a Map



Confusing and chaotic, as with everything else about European history, where endless entanglements, alliances, and power struggles between kingdoms produced the conditions for war. But that was just the way it was, across the entire world, since forever — until 1776 when a bunch of upstart punks decided there had to be a better way. 

This war also set the stage for the American Revolution by leading Britain into tremendous debt which caused them to tax the colonies (Sugar Act of 1764, Stamp Act of 1765, etc), leading directly to the “taxation without representation” battle cry. 

Another move by the British that upset the colonists was the Proclamation of 1763, prohibiting settlement of territory west of the Appalachians by anyone but the British government, supposedly in response to Native American raids on British forces by Chief Pontiac — although I’m not sure I see how putting the  colonists in a box does anything to stop war against Native Americans. Here’s what the above link says about it:

Acknowledging that “great frauds and abuses have been committed,” the proclamation furthermore prohibited settlers from buying tribal territory. Instead, only the crown could now make such purchases. “We shall avoid many future quarrels with the savages by this salutary measure,” said General Thomas Gage, who commanded all British forces in North America.

Stand back and admire the pure diplomacy just oozing from that quote.

In this list of 10 things about the Seven Years War you probably don’t know, we learn that the French Acadians migrated to Louisiana from Canada because the British forced them out during the Seven Years War, and that’s how Louisiana ended up as Cajun Country.