Half a century of conflict between Britain and France over North America culminated in the French and Indian War, or the Seven Years’ War in Europe. Unlike the three previous Anglo-French wars, which were outgrowths of European conflicts, this one began with colonial initiatives. Fur traders and Virginia planters were interested in exploiting and developing the Ohio River valley region. The French, determined to secure the territory against encroaching British and American traders and land speculators, built a chain of forts along...
Established in seventeenth-century England, the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, was a Christian Protesant sect. Persecuted in both England and early colonial America, Quakers found a home in William Penn’s Pennsylvania, which supported Quaker adherance to pacificism, religious tolerance, and the equality of men and women. Quakers were also instrumental leaders of the abolitionist movement in colonial America and the founding era.
The Albany Congress was the first unified conference of the British colonies. The group met at Albany, New York, with the aim of creating an alliance with the Iroquois in the event of war with the French. The group adopted Benjamin Franklin’s “Plan of the Union,” a proposal for establishing a colonial union. However, the plan was not ratified by the colonial legislatures or approved by the crown, and little ultimately came of the Albany Congress.
The Virginia House of Burgesses was the first elected assembly of representatives in the British colonies in America. It was established in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. The House of Burgesses was formally dissolved by Lord Dunmore in 1774 on the eve of the American Revolution, however it continued to meet in secret despite Dunmore’s ban.
The Dominion of New England was a single province created by the 1686 merger of the English colonies of New England—Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. The Dominion was created to give the monarchy greater power over colonial administration, but it was disbanded with the Glorious Revolution and Leisler’s Rebellion in 1689.
Jacob Leisler (ca. 1640–1691) was a German-born merchant and New York militia officer who led the overthrow of the royal government in that state in 1689. Following Leisler’s Rebellion, he set up a revolutionary government and assumed the title of lieutenant governor. Leisler held power in New York for eighteen months but, after the installation of new agents of the Crown, surrendered to royal forces. He was tried for treason, convicted, and hanged in 1691.
Anthony Benezet (1713–1784) was an anti-slavery advocate and Quaker educator who taught free blacks in Philadelphia. As an ardent abolitionist, Benezet wrote and published anti-slavery pamphlets and encouraged his fellow Quakers to ban slavery from their community.
Venture Smith (1729–1805) was a former slave who, in 1798, published his autobiography, A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, a Native of Africa: But Resident above Sixty Years in the United States of America, Related by Himself. Smith’s narrative recounted his capture and enslavement, and the hard work and ingenuity he employed in his journey to freedom. Smith lived as a slave for twenty-eight years. By 1765, he had saved enough money to buy his own freedom, and he later purchased freedom for...