The French and Indian War

by Christopher Gill

Unit Objective

This unit is part of Gilder Lehrman’s series of Common Core State Standards–based teaching resources. These units were developed to enable students to understand, summarize, and analyze original texts of historical significance. Through a step-by-step process, students will acquire the skills to analyze any primary or secondary source material.

Overview

In this unit students will develop a thorough knowledge of the French and Indian War through several primary documents. These documents will teach the students about specific aspects of the French and Indian War and the complex nature of this major event in colonial and indigenous history. Students will demonstrate learning by combining prior knowledge and primary sources to dig deeper and discover more relevant information related to the coalitions and contentions that led to the violence of the French and Indian War.

This unit focuses on the conflict that took place in North America from 1754 to 1763 between the French and English and their respective powerful Native American allies. It is sometimes also referred to as the Seven Years’ War, but will be identified as the French and Indian War for this unit. The French and Indian War officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1763.

This activity can be used in most US history classrooms. I would recommend that this lesson/unit in its current form be used in seventh through twelfth grades. The primary document analysis template (In His Own Words), reading and analysis template (Document Analysis & Learning), and document comparison template (Making Connections & Detecting Differences) can be used across many grade levels, from elementary to AP classes, if adapted with different documents or appropriate curriculum-level activities.

This activity should take between three and five class periods depending on the time allotted by the teacher for pre-activity curriculum-based learning, document analysis, and possible follow-up activities. If classroom time is an issue, various aspects of this unit can be used independently.

This lesson could work well in several different units of American history or civics. Themes related to the French and Indian War include: American Indian history, the age of exploration, European and Native American relations, colonial and Native American relations, colonization, the thirteen colonies, imperialism, land ownership, the Seven Years’ War, English and French colonial conflict, the Iroquois Confederacy, early conflicts between the colonies and England, causes of the American Revolution, differences between European and American Indian societies and cultures, and several other related topics. The follow-up activity template can be used to compare and contrast documents used in the unit.

Introduction

The age of exploration and the ensuing colonization of the Western Hemisphere brought long-standing conflicts into new and unfamiliar lands for European imperial nations. Whether peaceful or hostile, European contact directly changed the lives of the indigenous populations in the Americas forever.

Throughout the French and Indian War during the mid-eighteenth century, powerful indigenous nations fought against and allied with European powers for specific military, economic, political, and social purposes. For each faction, there were multiple motivations at play during these conflicts. Some of the major motivations behind the French and Indian War included, but were not limited to, protection of ancestral lands, acquisition of new territory and imperial power, and self-preservation. This unit will use primary documents to help students understand the complicated nature of defeating adversaries and building coalitions on the frontier during the French and Indian War.

The documents and graphic organizers presented in this unit should be used as enrichment pieces to teach students about the French and Indian War. The primary sources will help students understand the viewpoints of some of the major players during the French and Indian War. They will show the historical circumstances that helped shape or destroy native and European alliances as well as the brutal and confusing nature of wilderness warfare during this period. These documents alone cannot fully tell the story of the causes, events, and aftermath of the entire war, but should serve as glimpses into the realities of the time.

Materials

Vocabulary

The students will use the Primary Document Analysis activities to locate and cite specific vocabulary words.

Lesson 1

Objective

Students will be using close-reading strategies to analyze excerpts from two speeches by Canassatego, chief of the Onondaga Nation and a diplomat for the Iroquois Confederacy. Students will demonstrate their understanding by “graffiting”/annotating the text; completing primary document analysis templates; participating in in-depth analysis of rhetoric and discourse, cooperative learning, and document-based questioning; and creating and responding to higher-order questions based on the text.

Sample questions:

  • How do Chief Canassatego and his people feel about the land? Cite specific evidence from the document that helps support your answer.  
  • According to Chief Canassatego, what happens to the goods they are given for the land they sell? Cite specific evidence from the document that helps support your answer.
  • How does this document portray the relationship between the Iroquois people and the colonists? Cite specific evidence from the document that helps support your answer.
  • According to Chief Canassatego, what are the major problems that his people face? Cite specific evidence from the document that helps support your answer.
  • How does Canassatego feel about the alliance between the tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy? Cite specific evidence from the document that helps support your answer.
  • What advice does Canassatego give to the colonists? Cite specific evidence from the document that helps support your answer.
  • Did the colonists eventually follow Chief Canassatego’s advice? Give specific evidence from your knowledge of American history.

Introduction

The teacher will tell students that they will be analyzing a primary source by Canassatego, chief of the Onondaga Nation and a diplomat for the Iroquois Confederacy. Discuss with the students the importance of critically analyzing the specific words and sentiments expressed directly in the document.

The teacher should also tell students that this document is a representation of the relationships between the Iroquois Nation and the colonists, specifically in Pennsylvania. Chief Canassatego’s speeches took place several years before the French and Indian War but show the direct relationships and sometimes turbulent alliances among the Iroquois Confederation, the colonists in Pennsylvania, and the British Crown.

Materials

  • Primary Document Analysis: Canassatego – In His Own Words. Source: Carl Van Doren, Indian Treaties Printed by Benjamin Franklin, 1736–1762 (Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1938). First three paragraphs from “The Treaty Held with the Indians of the Six Nations, at Philadelphia, in July, 1742,” p. 27; the last paragraph from “A Treaty with the Indians of the Six Nations, June 1744,” p. 78. This book reprinting several pamphlets published by Benjamin Franklin can be found online at the Internet Archive at http://archive.org/details/indiantreatiespr00vand.
  • Graphic Organizer: Document Analysis and Learning
  • Analyzing a Political Cartoon: Benjamin Franklin – “Join or Die” Source: Pennsylvania Gazette, May 9, 1754, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
  • Smartboard, ELMO, or overhead projector

Procedure

  1. The teacher will have to be sure the students are appropriately prepared for this unit/lesson. Students should have a good understanding of pre-Columbian indigenous history, the age of exploration, wars of European colonialism around the world, cultural diffusion, imperialism, and other topics relevant to world and US history.
  2. The teacher will hand out Canassatego – In His Own WordsMake certain students understand that the text has been excerpted from two different speeches for this lesson. Explain the purpose and use of ellipses.
  3. Teacher will “share read” the Canassatego document with the class. In a shared read, the teacher will introduce the text to the students by beginning to read the document aloud. After a few sentences, the teacher will ask the students to join in reading the remainder of the document in unison. The teacher will continue reading along with the students and use the proper pronunciation and intonation as a model. The share-reading exercise ensures that students will become more familiar with the articulation and discourse of the document and helps English language learners and struggling readers. Share reading will also help students hear, see, and read aloud the major sentiments and the point of view presented in the document prior to their close-reading exercise.
  4. The teacher will pair students based on ability level for a Think, Pair, Share using Canassatego – In His Own Words. The student pairings can be assigned by the teacher based on the needs of the students and their levels. Each student in the pairing will focus on half of the document, which can be assigned by the teacher or selected by the students.
  5. Students will “close read” their portion of the text and fill in the organizers with relevant ideas, vocabulary, quotations, and meanings. The teacher should stress the importance of critically analyzing the specific words and sentiments expressed directly in the document.
  6. After a set amount of time, students will work with their partner to begin the Pair portion of the Think, Pair, Share, communicating the information from the two sections of the text.
  7. After a set amount of time, each student will present to the class at least one piece of information their partner shared with them during the Pair portion of the Think, Pair, Share. This information should be displayed on the Smartboard, ELMO, or overhead projector.
  8. The teacher should pose several higher-order questions (see examples in the Objective section of this lesson) to encourage a classroom discussion based on the text.
  9. The teacher will hand out Graphic Organizer: Document Analysis and Learning and, in pairs, the students will fill in the organizer using specific evidence from the document.

Extension (optional)

Students will use what they learned from Canassatego – In His Own Words to fill in the graphic organizer Document Analysis and Learning for homework, if it was not completed in class. Students will receive a copy of Benjamin Franklin – “Join or Die” to complete as homework. They should be informed they will need to use their homework for the next lesson.

Lesson 2

Objective

Students will be using Benjamin Franklin’s “Join or Die” political cartoon and the diary of Robert Moses, a member of the New Hampshire militia during the French and Indian War, in this lesson. Students will demonstrate their understanding by “graffiting”/annotating the text; completing primary document analysis templates; participating in in-depth analysis of rhetoric and discourse, cooperative learning, and document-based questioning; and creating and responding to higher-order questions based on the text.

Sample questions:

  • What are some of the major symbols in Benjamin Franklin’s “Join or Die” cartoon and what do you think they mean? Cite specific evidence from the text that helps support your answer.
  • Is the “Join or Die” political cartoon related to the words of Chief Canassatego? If so, how? Cite specific evidence from the text that helps support your answer.
  • According to Robert Moses’s diary, what is it like fighting in the French and Indian War? Cite specific evidence from the text that helps support your answer.
  • According to Robert Moses’s diary, what role are Native Americans playing in the French and Indian War? Cite specific evidence from the text that helps support your answer.
  • When you read Robert Moses’s diary, what images pop into your head? Why? Cite specific evidence from the text that helps support your answer.
  • If you compare Benjamin Franklin’ “Join or Die” and the excerpts from Robert Moses’s diary, are there any direct connections? Are there any differences? Cite specific evidence from the text that helps support your answer.
  • What do you think the most interesting lines in the diary are? What did you find compelling about those lines? Cite specific evidence from the text that supports your answer.

Introduction

The second lesson will connect Benjamin Franklin’s political cartoon “Join or Die” with excerpts from Robert Moses’s diary. These two documents have the common theme of colonial unity embedded within them. It may take the students time to find this thread because overall there are more differences than similarities between the documents.

There are several other major reasons to use Robert Moses’s diary: it describes the chaos and brutal nature of the French and Indian War as well as the role that Native American allies played for both the English and the French during the war.

The teacher should discuss with the students the importance of critically analyzing the specific words and sentiments expressed directly in the document.

Materials

Procedure (Instruction and Assessment)

  1. The teacher and students will review the homework from the first day’s lesson, Analyzing a Political Cartoon: Benjamin Franklin – “Join or Die,” or complete the analysis in class if it was not assigned as homework. Students and teacher should present their answers on the Smartboard, ELMO, or overhead projector.
  2. The teacher will hand out Robert Moses – In His Own WordsMake certain that students understand that the original text has been excerpted for this lesson. Explain the purpose and use of ellipses. Punctuation has been added and spelling has been modernized in these excerpts.
  3. Teacher will “share read” the Robert Moses document with the class.
  4. The teacher will pair students based on ability level for a Think, Pair, Share based on Robert Moses Diary – In His Own Words. Each student in the pairing will focus on half of the document, which can be assigned by the teacher or selected by the students.
  5. Students will “close read” and fill in the graphic organizers with relevant ideas, vocabulary, quotations, and meanings from their specifically assigned half of the document on their own. The teacher should stress the importance of critically analyzing the specific words and sentiments expressed directly in the document.
  6. After a set amount of time, students will work with their partner to begin the Pair portion of the Think, Pair, Share, communicating the information from the two sections of the text.
  7. After a set amount of time, each student will present at least one piece of information their partner shared with them during the Pair portion of the Think, Pair, Share. Students and teacher should be able to present their answers on the Smartboard, ELMO, or overhead projector.
  8. The teacher should pose several higher-order questions (see examples in the Objective section of this lesson) to encourage a classroom discussion based on the text.

Lesson 3

Objective

Students will be using a statement made by Chippewa (Anishinaabeg or Ojibwe) chief Minavavana (Mihnehwehna or Minweweh), an ally of the French. Students will demonstrate their understanding by “graffiting”/annotating the text; completing primary document analysis templates; participating in in-depth analysis of rhetoric and discourse, cooperative learning, and document-based questioning; and creating and responding to higher order questions based on the text.

Sample questions:

  • How does Minavavana feel about the English defeating the French? What does the English victory mean to Minavavana? Cite specific examples from the text that support your answer.
  • According to Minavavana, what must his warriors do even though the war may have ended? Cite specific evidence from the text that helps support your answer.
  • According to Chief Minavavana, what are the two ways the “spirits of the slain” can be satisfied? Cite specific evidence from the text that will help support your answer.
  • What does Chief Minavavana think of the king of England? The king of France? Cite specific evidence from the text that will help support your answer.
  • How does Minavavana feel about the English fur trader Alexander Henry? Why do you think he feels this way? Cite specific evidence from the text that will support your answer.

Introduction

In this lesson, students will explore the changing nature of the relationship between indigenous people and their European allies. In this document, Chippewa/Ojibwe Chief Minavavana reminds a visiting English trader, Alexander Henry, that his people may have defeated the French but will never defeat Minavavana’s people. The document shows the nature of the war, the allegiance that the Chippewa/Ojibwe people had with the French, the military culture of the Chippewa/Ojibwe people, the relationship between indigenous nations and fur traders, and the expansion of the English into French territory as the war came to an end.

The teacher should discuss with the students the importance of critically analyzing the specific words and sentiments expressed directly in the document.

Materials

Procedure

  1. The teacher will hand out Minavavana – In His Own Words. Make certain that students understand that the original text has been excerpted for this lesson. Explain the purpose and use of ellipses.
  2. The teacher will “share read” the Minavavana document with the class.
  3. The teacher will pair students based on ability level for a Think, Pair, Share based on Minavavana – In His Own Words. Each student in the pairing will focus on half of the document, which can be assigned by the teacher or selected by the students.
  4. Students will “close read” and fill in the graphic organizers with relevant ideas, vocabulary, quotations, and meanings from their half of the document on their own. The teacher should stress the importance of critically analyzing the specific words and sentiments expressed directly in the document.
  5. After a set amount of time, students will work with their partner to begin the Pair portion of the Think, Pair, Share, communicating the information from their own half of the document.
  6. After a set amount of time, each student will present at least one piece of information their partner shared with them during the Pair portion of the Think, Pair, Share. Students and teacher should present their answers on the Smartboard, ELMO, or overhead projector.
  7. The teacher should pose several higher-order questions to encourage a classroom discussion based on the text.
  8. The teacher will hand out Graphic Organizer: Document Analysis and Learning and, in pairs, the students will fill in the organizer using specific evidence from the document. This can be done in class or as homework.

Follow-Up Activities

  • Students will analyze and compare the documents presented in the unit. Students will use Making Connections – Document to Document and Detecting Differences – Document to Document.
  • Students will research and create a project where they must find and research at least four primary documents that are related to American Indian tribes and the American Revolution.
  • Students will research and create a project where they must find and research at least four primary documents that show a direct correlation between the end of the French and Indian War and the beginning of turmoil between the colonies and England.
  • Students will create a thesis statement for a DBQ essay and will use all of the documents from this unit to prove their thesis in a detailed DBQ essay.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Already have an account?

Please click here to login and access this page.

How to subscribe

Click here to get a free subscription if you are a K-12 educator or student, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program, which provides even more benefits.

Otherwise, click here for information on a paid subscription for those who are not K-12 educators or students.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Become an Affiliate School to have free access to the Gilder Lehrman site and all its features.

Click here to start your Affiliate School application today! You will have free access while your application is being processed.

Individual K-12 educators and students can also get a free subscription to the site by making a site account with a school-affiliated email address. Click here to do so now!

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Why Gilder Lehrman?

Your subscription grants you access to archives of rare historical documents, lectures by top historians, and a wealth of original historical material, while also helping to support history education in schools nationwide. Click here to see the kinds of historical resources to which you'll have access and here to read more about the Institute's educational programs.

Individual subscription: $25

Click here to sign up for an individual subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Upgrade your Account

We're sorry, but it looks as though you do not have access to the full Gilder Lehrman site.

All K-12 educators receive free subscriptions to the Gilder Lehrman site, and our Affiliate School members gain even more benefits!

How to Subscribe

K-12 educator or student? Click here to edit your profile and indicate this, giving you free access, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program.

Not a educator or student? Click here for more information on purchasing a subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Discussion

This website and the primary source documents have helped our students achieve new heights in learning and reading. It is important to allow students to learn not only from a book, or lectures, but from real first hand experience text.


Add comment

Login or register to post comments