King William’s War (1689 – 1698)

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A world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years’ War, or the French and Indian War as it was known in North America, began in 1756. It started the eventual conflict between Great Britain and the American colonists. French Canadians refer to it as the La guerre de la Conquête, which translates to “The War of Conquest.” The colonists had two primary enemies in the war. Those enemies were the French and those Native American tribes and individuals who chose to side with the French. However, it’s important to note that some Native Americans sided with Great Britain. The animosity between the French and the English in America had been steadily increasing from 1689 onward.By 1750, the colonists numbered approximately 1.25 million, which had increased from just 250,000 in 1700. Around that time, Britain was anxious to acquire both money and raw materials, such as tar, hemp, turpentine, and copper. They created the Navigation Acts, which made sure that all of those materials, which were made in America, could only be shipped to England. They also instituted a 6 pence per gallon tax on molasses in 1733 as part of the Sugar Act and the Molasses Act. The point of the tax was to raise money, but also to cause more problems for the French who were trying to trade in the Caribbean. However, the difficulty of enforcing that tax led to England needing to invest in the establishment of vice-admiralty courts and customs services. Those courts were meant to identify and punish those who were smuggling in the area. Colonial justice systems were far less advanced than those new courts and customs services.

King William’s War map
King William’s War Map

The colonists appealed to the King of England to help them get the French out of North America once and for all. They requested money and military assistance. However, King George II declined to help them at the time because he was suspicious of their true motives. Most of the English officers who were in America were also suspicious of colonists who wanted to join the military. In fact, some of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had been sent home as young men when they tried to volunteer to join the militia. Such actions actually served to strengthen the colonists’ distaste for British rule. So, they became more suspicious whenever the British authorities ordered them to provide quarters, feed, wagons, horses, or other provisions. Part of that suspicion came from the fact that those same authorities were preventing the colonies from having the right to help defend the British Empire. In short, they didn’t feel like they were trusted by their own, soon to be former, country anymore.