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Thursday, July 4, 2013

July 4 - Teaching Kids about American Independence

Indian Wigwam and French tent during the French and Indian War,
1754-1763. This reenactment occurs every year at George
Washington's ancestral home in Sulgrave Manor, near Banbury,
England. Photo June 29, 2013, by JT Marlin.  

As we celebrate July 4, how many American children know that the Declaration of Independence would not have been possible if the French and their allied Indians were still harassing them. The French and Indian War of 1754-1763 was a crucial prelude to the War of Independence.
  • It showed the American colonies' loosely organized militias how to fight a war.
  • It made George Washington into a heroic military figure who was therefore able later to bring together the gentried southern colonies in a common cause with the impetuous rabble-rousers in Boston.
  • It succeeded in driving the French military out of North America until they came back to assist the rebels after 1776. 
  • It reduced the threat to the colonies of hostile Indians. They switched their allegiance to the British and this in practice meant to the settlers.
  • On the downside, it created war debts that George III needed to pay, and he felt that the colonies should contribute toward their liberation from the French. This led to the taxes that precipitated the Declaration of Independence. 
Going to a reenactment of the French and Indian War is one way to convey these historical developments. At the Sulgrave Manor in the UK near Banbury (north of Oxford), a reenactment occurs every year around July 4.

More ideas for teaching kids about the French and Indian War are here.