Indians, Europeans, and the Struggle for Empire in Eighteenth Century North America

Authored by: Kristofer Ray

The Routledge Handbook of American Military and Diplomatic History

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415533805
eBook ISBN: 9781315817347
Adobe ISBN: 9781317813354

10.4324/9781315817347.ch6

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Abstract

As the War of Spanish Succession (Queen Anne’s War) concluded in 1713, English writer Daniel Defoe commented that the war represented significant danger to British interests in the western Atlantic. Cognizant of the value of trade in that part of the evolving empire, he feared that the war—along with its predecessor, known to the English as King William’s War (1689–1697)—“seems already to threaten, that succeeding Ages may see the European Wars Transferr’d into America, as has in some Degree been done in these last Wars.” If such a trend continued, he believed, the strongest power would eventually “devour all of the rest; and become the Exclusive Lord of the Largest, and by far the Richest part of the World.” 1 In many ways, Defoe was accurate: Britain and France (and Spain) continually challenged one another for imperial supremacy after 1713, and as they did so the western Atlantic became more and more critical. By 1739, when Spain and Britain began the War of Jenkins’s Ear, the economic (and thus imperial) value of the West Indies and North America was widely understood. And by 1754, when the first stage of the Seven Years’ War broke out in the upper Ohio Valley, North America had become a central element in European imperial calculations. Success in that war did in fact, as Defoe suggested, make Great Britain the dominant European power in that part of the world.

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