B1 Intermediate US 1966 Folder Collection
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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, we’re 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, you’ve just seen colonists ignoring the British Parliament.
We’ll 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
citizens’ natural 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?
We’ll 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!
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The Seven Years War and the Great Awakening: Crash Course US History #5

1966 Folder Collection
James published on June 21, 2015
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