The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

The French and Indian War

Today we got to discuss one of my favourite parts of our unit on early American history: the French and Indian War. I feel like this is an armed conflict that is often overlooked as a major contributing factor to the American Revolutionary War. During the shipboard and shoreline workshop aboard the EPA’s R/V Lake Guardian on Lake Ontario this past summer, I learned more about the history of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Seaway, including the crucial role it played in the Revolutionary War. It was a fascinating study and I was excited to implement what I had learned into my classroom instruction.

We are going to spend just two days on this part of our unit, so I spent most of today’s portion laying the background and outcomes of the war. The students examined maps of North America and the way the land had been divided up by the French and English. (The claims of the Spanish, Portuguese, and Russians were noted but not particularly important to the topic at hand.) Then we discussed one of the most common reasons for war: living space. The English colonists were packed in on the eastern seaboard and were interested in moving west, over the Appalachian Mountains, and into territory that had been claimed by the French. We also noted that while the English claims were considerably smaller than the French claims, the English had a much stronger presence along the sea ports, which were incredibly important for shipping and transportation.

After going over the major reasons of the French and Indian War, we wrapped up today’s lesson with a discussion of some of the outcomes: English soldiers stationed in America who needed food, shelter, and clothing; the high cost of the war and the need for King George III to recover the costs; the subsequent series of taxes and policies put in place to handle these outcomes; the decision to forbid English colonists to move west of the Appalachian Mountains; and, of course, the lack of representation in the English parliament.

Having established a background of the French and Indian War (also known as the Seven Years’ War), we will look at some of the major conflicts tomorrow, especially those that took place along the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Seaway. Then we will move on to the actual American Revolutionary War and the establishment of a new nation. My goal is for us to complete this unit before Spring Break. I’m pretty certain we will be able to do so without any problem, even with upcoming week of ISAT testing.

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2 responses

  1. Boston H. Manwaring

    I am not sure where you get the idea that the French and Indian War and its impact on the subsequent Revolution is ignored, but it certainly is not from any class I’ve attended or taught. Historians are fully aware of the connection and any historian worth his (or her) salt will be able to discuss it, I’m sure.

    February 25, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    • I am not talking about historians. I am talking about the way the Revolutionary War is taught in the general public education system, especially in the early grades where there is simply not enough time to cover all of the relevant details. Please keep in mind that I am writing from the experience of teaching fourth grade.

      February 25, 2014 at 8:30 pm

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