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  • Hi, I'm John Green. This is Crash Course U.S. History.

  • And today we're going to discuss the events that led to the events that led to the American

  • revolution.

  • So, we'll begin with the Seven Years War, which as Crash Course World History fans will

  • remember Winston Churchill referred to as as the "first world war". The Americans called

  • it the French and Indian War. And the Prussians called it the Third Silesian War. The Swedes

  • called it the Pomeranian War.

  • For today, we're just going to call it the Seven Years War on account of how it lasted

  • for nine years.

  • [Intro]

  • So, here at Crash Course, we take a broad view of history. And rather than talking about

  • the minute details of wars, we try to focus on the important stuff: Causes, effects, any

  • time Vladimir Putin might show up, and teacup kittens.

  • And as and far as causes go, the Seven Years War was, really like most wars, about economics.

  • Mr. Green! Mr. Green! Is this economics class? Because I don’t remember signing up for

  • it.

  • Yeah. This is economics class, Me From the Past.

  • It’s economics and religion and psychology and anthropology and astronomy and and physics

  • and ecology and literature. That’s the great thing about history. You can’t put the past

  • into little boxes that you study for 50 minutes a day until the bell rings.

  • You can’t separate what happened from what people wanted and believed and valued.

  • Right. So, mercantilism was the key economic theory of the British Empire in the 18th century.

  • Because while Adam Smith and David Ricardo were talking up free trade and economic liberalism,

  • by 1750 no one was really listening.

  • Mercantilism was basically the idea that the government should regulate the economy in

  • order to increase national power. This meant encouraging local production through tariffs

  • and monopolies and also trying to ensure a favorable balance of trade.

  • And colonies were an awesome way to create this favorable trade balance because they

  • both produced raw materials and bought back finished goods made from those raw materials.

  • So, for it to work, you always need more and more land so you can have more raw materials

  • and more colonists to buy finished goods.

  • By the way, it’s important to understand the centrality of slavery in this colonial

  • economy.

  • I mean, the most important colonial trade goods were tobacco and sugar. And both of

  • those crops relied heavily on slave labor. And slaves themselves were a key trade good

  • in the so-called triangular trade between Europe, Africa, and the colonies.

  • As one historian put it:

  • The growth and prosperity of the emerging society of free Colonial British America were

  • achieved as a result of slave labor."

  • So, Britain’s greatest rival in the 18th century was France. Like, on paper, the Spanish

  • had a more significant empire in North America. And they had certainly been there longer.

  • But their empire was really sparsely populated. In fact, by 1800, Los Angeles, the most populous

  • town in Spanish California, had a population of 300 and only 17 freeways.

  • The French colonies were considerably more populous, but even so, by 1750, there were

  • only about 65,000 French colonists, most of them in the St. Lawrence River Valley, thereabouts.

  • I don’t know. Maybe it was somewhere over here. This isn’t a terribly detailed map.

  • And also, I’m not looking at it.

  • But the French were moving into the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys and forming alliances

  • with American Indians there to try to dominate the fur and deer-skin trades. And that proved

  • problematic.

  • So, wars usually have really complicated causes, and it’s very rare that we can refer to

  • one thing as making them inevitable.

  • Fortunately, the Seven Years War is the exception to that rule.

  • Stan, I think I just used the word "exception", which means it’s time for a "Mongol-tage."

  • I guess they heard there was an exception in town

  • So, in 1749, the governor of Virginia award a huge land grant to something called the

  • Ohio Company, which was basically a real estate development firm designed to benefit the governor

  • of Virginia’s friends.

  • The Native Americans and their French supporters thought this was bad form, because they thought

  • they had rights to the land. So, the Ohio Company asked the French to recognize their

  • land claims, and the French were, like, “Non.”

  • Let’s go to the Thought Bubble.

  • The actual fighting began when the British, or more precisely British colonists led by

  • a 21-year-old militia colonel named George Washington --

  • -- Yes, THAT George Washington --

  • -- tried to eject the French from the forts they were constructing in Western Pennsylvania.

  • The first attempt in 1754 was a disaster. Washington built and then abandoned the ironically

  • named Fort Necessity with the loss of one-third of his men.

  • It was followed by the equally unsuccessful attack on Fort Duquesne, now located in downtown

  • Pittsburgh, where the French and Indians pounded the British, killing two-thirds of General

  • Braddock’s forces, and also General Braddock.

  • Things didn't go much better for the British for the next two years, although they did

  • take control of part of Nova Scotia and kick out more than 11,000 French Acadians, many

  • of whom died in what is called "The Expulsion." Some of those who didn't ended up in Louisiana,

  • and became Cajuns.

  • But anyway, the tide began to turn for the British in 1759 when they captured French

  • Forts Duquesne - finally - Ticonderoga and Louisbourg. The biggest victory of all came

  • in September, when the British trounced the French in the Plains of Abraham near Quebec.

  • Montreal surrendered the next year.

  • The next battles aren’t that important, unless you were fighting in them. And I’m

  • sure you can count on the French and Indian War aficionados to fill the gaps in in comments.

  • But suffice it to say, the British were victorious in North America, the Caribbean, Europe, and

  • as far away as India. The war continued officially for three more years and ended with the Treaty

  • of Paris in 1763.

  • Thanks, Thought Bubble.

  • So, the most obvious result of the war was territorial changes, particularly in the green

  • areas of not-America.

  • And even though Britain won the war, they arguably got the short end of the territorial

  • stick.

  • Under the terms of the Peace of Paris, Britain got Canada from France and Florida from Spain.

  • In return, France got Guadalupe and Martinique, Caribbean sugar islands that were much more

  • valuable, at least monetarily than Canada --

  • Sorry, Canada, but if you want to be valuable, grow some sugar.

  • And not sugar beets, either, Canada. Real sugar.

  • And Spain got Cuba, with its awesome sugar trade, and the Philippines with its proximity

  • to China, which were much more valuable than Florida. I mean, at the time Florida did not

  • even have Disney World. Instead, it had yellow fever.

  • But the real losers of the war were not the British or the Spanish or the French, but

  • the Native Americans. The shuffling of territories meant the French were out of the Mississippi

  • and Ohio River Valleys. And the American Indians were stuck with the British who kind of sucked.

  • And as the British moved west, Native American Indians felt compelled to fight back.

  • Oh, it’s time for the Mystery Document?

  • The rules here are simple.

  • If I am wrong about the author of the Mystery Document, I will be shocked by electricity.

  • If I’m right, I will be shocked by my knowledge of 18th century primary sources.

  • Okay. Here we go:

  • "We humbly conceive that it is contrary to the maxims of good policy and extremely dangerous

  • to our frontiers, to suffer any Indians, of what tribe soever, to live within the inhabited

  • parts of this province while we are engaged in an Indian war, as experience has taught

  • us that they are all perfidious, and their claim to freedom and independency puts it

  • in their power to act as spies, to entertain and give intelligence to our enemies, and

  • to furnish them with provisions and warlike stores. To this fatal intercourse between

  • our for pretended friends and open enemies, we must ascribe the greatest of the ravages

  • and murders that have been committed in the course of this and the last Indian war. We,

  • therefore, pray that this grievance be taken under consideration and remedied --"

  • Enough!

  • Usually you either know it or you don’t.

  • And I don’t.

  • The author is clearly not an Indian.

  • The first-person plural makes me think the author is probably not an individual, which

  • makes it harder. Certainly, were getting a taste of tension between colonists and Native

  • Americans on the frontier. But who is writing about this tension, I have absolutely no idea

  • Stan, you get to shock me. Who is it?

  • Are you serious? I told you, it has to be an individual person!

  • Fine...

  • Gah!

  • So, after the end of the Seven Years War, American Indians organized an armed revolt.

  • In 1763, Indian, particularly from the Ottawa and the Delaware tribes, launched what has

  • come to be known as Pontiac’s Rebellion.

  • Now, of course, the rebellion ultimately failed to dislodge the British, but the Native Americans

  • did manage to besiege Detroit and kill hundreds of settlers. And that convinced the British

  • that if they wanted to avoid future conflicts, they should slow down the colonists' settlements

  • in the territories.

  • So, the British Parliament issued the Proclamation Line of 1763 which forbids settlement west

  • of the Appalachian Mountains and reserved that territory for Indians.

  • Now, that sounds like a sensible policy until you remember that the British colonists had

  • just finished fighting a war in order to get the right to move into that very territory.

  • So, the settlers duly ignored the Proclamation Line and got down to settling.

  • The other big outcome of the Seven Years War was that it set up the American Revolution.

  • I mean, youve just seen colonists ignoring the British Parliament.

  • Well talk more about that next week.

  • But around the end of the Seven Years War, new ideas like republicanism were taking root

  • in the colonies. Republicanism initially meant supporting a government without a king, but

  • in the colonies it ultimately came to mean something broader.

  • Now, they didn’t believe that everyone was equal. Republicans believed that only property-owning

  • citizens possessed "virtue" which was defined in the 18th century -- not as being, like,

  • morally good -- but as a willingness to subordinate one’s personal interests to the public good.

  • This type of republicanism harkened back to a Roman ideal. Only, you know, without, like,

  • Caesar stabbing and togas.

  • Stan, I wish you wouldn’t.

  • And a second type of political philosophy grew out of ideas that in the 18th Century

  • were called "liberalism." For classical liberals, the main task of government was to protect

  • citizensnatural rights, which were defined as John Locke as life, liberty, and property.

  • For liberals like Locke, governments were the result of a social contract, whereby individuals

  • would give up some of their liberty in exchange for a government protecting their natural

  • rights.

  • So, republicanism and liberalism were undermining traditional political authority.

  • And so was the "Great Awakening", in which Americans awakened from being very religious

  • to being super religious.

  • The Great Awakening took place in the early decades of the 18th century, and it was a

  • revitalization of the religious feeling, energized by revival meetings and the introduction of

  • new denominations. In the early part of the 17th century, most of the English colonists

  • were Anglicans, unless you count the Catholics running Maryland.

  • But by the time of the Great Awakening, they were also Presbyterians and Baptists and Methodists.

  • Oh my!

  • Even the Old Line Congregationalist churches were challenged by so-called New Light ministers

  • who placed less emphasis on predestination and more on an individual’s experience of

  • salvation or being born again.

  • So religion became much more emotional in the colonies, especially after the arrival

  • of the Englishman George Whitefield who went on a preaching tour from 1739 to 1741. The

  • main thrust of his sermons was humans need only repent to avoid the horrors of damnation

  • and be saved. And he believed that salvation was within each individual.

  • It’s worth noting that this rise in religious fervor was not confined to America or even

  • to Christianity.

  • Like, for instance, Wahhabism, the Islamic reform movement that's still closely associated

  • with Saudi Arabia, began in the Middle East around the same time.

  • So one of the keys of the American Revolution was the breakdown in respect for authority.

  • And this was fueled partly by economics, partly by political philosophies that undermined

  • effects in governance from afar, and partly by religious revivals that criticized not

  • only church hierarchies, but also other aspects of colonial society.

  • I mean, if people were going so far as to criticize their religious leaders and established

  • religious norms, is it any wonder that they would criticize the acts of a Parliament working

  • an ocean away?

  • Well find out next week.

  • Thanks for watching.

  • Crash Course is produced and directed by Stan Muller.

  • Our script supervisor is Meredith Danko.

  • The show is written by my high school history teacher Raoul Meyer and myself.

  • Our associate producer is Danica Johnson.

  • And our graphics team is Thought Bubble.

  • If you have questions about today’s video, you can ask them in comments, where they will

  • be answered by our team of historians. Thanks for watching Crash Course.

  • And as we say in my hometown: Don’t forget to be awesome!

Hi, I'm John Green. This is Crash Course U.S. History.

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The Seven Years War and the Great Awakening: Crash Course US History #5

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    James posted on 2015/06/21
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