frenchindianWar - CHAPTER IX The French and Indian War THE...

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CHAPTER IX The French and Indian War THE Treaty of Aiz-la-Chapelle of 1748, like its predecessors, at Ryswick and Utrecht failed to settle the vital question between the rival claimants of North America. A commission of two Englishmen and two Frenchmen sat in Paris for many months after this treaty was signed, endeavoring to adjust the French- English boundaries in America; but they labored in vain. The first subject in dispute was the bounds of Acadia. The Treaty of Utrecht ceded it to England without defining its bounds, and thus planted the seeds of future quarrels. The French now contended that Acadia comprised only the peninsula of Nova Scotia, while the English claimed that the bounds formerly given to it by the French must now be adhered to. By these bounds the vast territory comprising northern Maine , New Brunswick, and a great portion of the St. Lawrence Valley were included in Acadia. While this question was pending, a more important and immediate one came up for solution, namely, the ownership of the Ohio Valley. This valley of the "Beautiful River" was a princely domain. It extended southward from Lake Erie and westward from the base of the Alleghany Mountains, comprising an endless succession of hills and valleys, watered by innumerable crystal streams, and stretching on and on until it merged at length into the greater valley of the Mississippi. The French claimed this vast region as a part of the great basin of the Mississippi discovered by Marquette and La Salle, and now secured by a cordon of forts from Canada to the sunny climate of the Gulf of Mexico. The English claimed it on two grounds, both of which were as shadowy as the claims of the French: first, the early charters of Virginia and of other colonies (based on the Cabot discoveries) which covered the unknown regions westward to the equally unknown "South Sea"; and second, the claims of the Iroquois. The Iroquois had been acknowledged British subjects by the Treaty of Utrecht, and their lands were therefore British territory, and their conquests were considered British conquests. Roving bands of these Indians had, at various times, traversed this western country, and had here and there driven off the natives or gained some trivial victory; and the English now claimed many thousands of square miles in consequence of these "conquests." They "laid claim to every mountain, forest, or prairie where an Iroquois had taken a scalp." 1 The claims of both nations were extravagant in the extreme. If the French had had their way, the English would have been confined to the narrow space between the crest of the Alleghanies and the Atlantic. If the English boundaries had been accepted, the French would have been hemmed within a small portion of Canada, north of the river St. Lawrence. Both nations were now moving to occupy the Ohio Valley. The governor of Canada sent Celoron de Bienville, who, with a company of Canadians and Indians, floated down the Allegheny and Ohio rivers, and took formal possession in the name of his king. At the mouth of
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frenchindianWar - CHAPTER IX The French and Indian War THE...

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