Historical Scene Investigations

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How did competition for land lead to the French & Indian War?

The case

French and Indian War reenactment

The French & Indian War occurred when two empires (French and British) clashed over expanding their land holdings for different purposes. For many of the Indians, siding with the French suited their interests best.

Your job is to investigate how competition for land led to a major conflict in Europe and the New World.

 

 

Becoming a detective

Disputes over territory: When you and your siblings have to share things, it can sometimes lead to disagreements. You want space for your things, while your siblings wants to have his or her stuff in the same space. And sometimes when you have big stuff or messy hobbies, you spread out into each other's space - that's when the trouble starts!

Imagine that your sibling moves into your room, bringing a large drum set and lots of messy hobbies that take up space on your side of the room. How would you feel? What would you say? Turn and talk with your partner, making up a quick role play of what these conversations would be. Next, create a map of your bedroom, with your territory and your sibling's territory clearly marked. How will you show the boundaries? Will the room be divided equally? Will it show your point of view, or your sibling's point of view?

Write a paragraph explaining why you drew the map as you did. Whose point of view did you consider most? How might your wants or needs make your point of view different from your sibling's?

In the years leading up to the French and Indian War, there was a similar problem in sharing land in North America. The French and Indians wanted to use the land for hunting, so wanted to keep it open, while the British wanted to own and settle the land for farming.

 

Reading for information: Read pages 8-9 from America in the Time of George Washington to get background information about the French and Indian War. (Or, see links to online material at bottom of this page.)

Analyze maps of Native American, French, and British territory locations before the war.
Consider what these areas had to offer each group, and what they wanted.

European Settlements and Indian Tribes, 1750

British, French, and Spanish Territory in 1763 Map of Northeastern Indian groups

 

Matchlock GunReading for perspective: Your teacher will be reading aloud from the novel The Matchlock Gun. As you listen, create a double-entry chart. What are the points of view of the different characters? How do you think each feels about the other? About the war?

 

You will be doing literature circles on the following books that are set during this time period. Discuss the perspective of the main character(s):

Paintings by Robert Griffing:

"The Winter Trade"

"The Taking of Mary Jemison"

The Winter People Indian Captive
Seeds of Revolution + art analysis Joseph Bruchac, The Winter People
(Compare with "Two Views of Captive-Taking by Indians")
Lois Lenski, Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison
(Compare with historical narrative of Jemison: excerpts and reflections)

Investigating the evidence

Working in groups, you will explore one of these vignettes showing different perspectives on the French and Indian War, along with primary or secondary sources. Based on this person's perspective, what would you name the war?

Who are you? Related document

A Swiss immigrant who lives on land purchased from the Pennsylvania government, near a Native American village. Some of your neighbors have been killed or captured in recent attacks.

 

Anatomy of a "Massacre" at Fort William Henry (from "The War That Made America" Student Resource page)

 

A Quaker living near Philadelphia, you are a pacifist and support cordial relations with Native Americans. Paxton Boys Massacre Indians in Pennsylvania (from Historical Society of Pennsylvania site)

A Scots-Irish family farming on land near the Susquehanna River. (You don't actually own this land, but feel that no one else is using it productively.) Your farm is attacked by Native Americans, and your family flees east.

Excerpt from Mary Jemison's narrative
A former indentured servant, serving as a soldier at a British fort in western Pennsylvania.

Letter from Giles Wolcott (and outside of letter)

"Building Forts in Their Hearts" (from "The War That Made America" Student Resource page)

A Lenape. Your nation's land has been taken over by European colonists. You don't understand why they are now attacking your villages. "Shingas, a Delaware, Speaks" (from "The War That Made America" Student Resource page)
A Six Nations Iroquois. Your nation has benefited from its alliance with the British, and you believe your nation should control the land.

Speech by Canassatego (chief of the Onondaga Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy), 1742

Constitution of the Iroquois Nations

A young English woman from Philadelphia, you fear the potential invasion by French troops, and have supported the British war effort.

"British Grenadier" song

Poem to a Field Surgeon (transcription)

Daniel Benton letter

A French soldier, you believe the British are to blame for the war (since it was when British fur traders moved into French territory that the conflict arose).

Private Charles Bonin (Jolicoeur)

click here for a Word file with short profiles of French individuals including Bonin

A free African-American man, you were recruited into the army by General Edward Braddock.

About Barzillai Lew

Portrait of Barzillai Lew

Searching for clues

For each source you examine, ask the following questions:

  • What type of document is this?
  • Who wrote the document?
  • When was the document written?
  • Who was the audience for the document?
  • Why was the document created?

Cracking the case

Based on what you have learned about different perspectives on this conflict, rename the war from one group's perspective. Using guidelines from the "What's in a Name?" lesson, create a broadside to support the name they propose for the war.

You will also create a RAFT writing piece, using the RAFT ideas and prompts given here, or creating your own product. Projects will be evaluated using this rubric.

To learn more

For background, see "The French and Indian War" at the USHistory.org site and "The French and Indian War" on the Ohio History Central site

See links to online resources, books, and more at PBS' "The War That Made America" site

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