Twenty-one year old Major George Washington departs Williamsburg, Virginia for the Ohio Valley. Virginia's governor Robert Dinwiddie has sent Washington to order the French to abandon the string of forts they are building between Lake Erie and the Forks of the Ohio River (the confluence of the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny Rivers).
Lt. Colonel George Washington, having returned to the Ohio Valley with a regiment of Virginia provincial troops, defeats a French force near the Great Meadows. After the battle, Washington's Indian allies, led by the Seneca chief Tanaghrisson, attack the French captives, killing the French commander and scalping the wounded.
A French force of 700 attacks George Washington and his 400 troops at Fort Necessity in retaliation for the massacre of the French at the Great Meadows. Washington is forced to surrender and leave the Ohio Valley.
British General Edward Braddock is mortally wounded and his force of British regulars and provincial troops is defeated at the Battle of the Wilderness, also known as the Battle of the Monongahela.
Massachusetts Governor and acting General William Shirley and a force of 2,500 recently recruited colonists reach Fort Oswego, on the southeastern end of Lake Ontario. They planned to attack Fort Niagara at the western end of the lake, but poor leadership and mass desertions force Shirley to abandon the campaign.
William Johnson, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the northern colonies, defeats the British at the Battle of Lake George. But British resistance prevents his advancing further to Crown Point at the southern tip of Lake Champlain, as planned. Instead, he builds Fort William Henry at the southern tip of Lake George. The Mohawks abandon their alliance with the British after this battle; the other nations within the Iroquois League adopt an informal position of neutrality.
Britain and France officially declare war against one another. According to the terms arranged in existing treaties of alliance, Prussia immediately enters the war on the side of Britain. Austria, Sweden, and Russia are allied with France. This European conflict will be labeled the Seven Years' War.
French forces, under the marquis de Montcalm, newly appointed commander
of all French forces in North America, captures Fort Oswego, strengthening French control over the Great Lakes.
William Pitt is named British secretary of state. He will commit the British government to the allocation of whatever resources are necessary to defeat the French in America and on the European continent. He will authorize the raising of 23,000 provincial troops in North America in 1758, and will end squabbling over taxation by guaranteeing the colonial assemblies that Parliament will cover all expenses.
French General Montcalm forces the surrender of the British garrison at Fort William Henry after a six-day siege. Despite being guaranteed safe passage by Montcalm, British troops and civilians are attacked as they abandon the fort by France's Indian allies. More than 150 are killed and 500 are taken captive to be held for ransom.
The British suffer a humiliating and costly defeat at Fort Carrillon, despite outnumbering French forces by four to one. The British suffer almost 2,000 casualties.
The British capture Louisbourg, a French port on Nova Scotia. With this victory, the British are able to severely restrict French supply lines flowing down the Saint Lawrence River.
The British capture Fort Frontenac on Lake Ontario, further disrupting French supply lines to its interior posts.
The Treaty of Easton is signed between the British and several Indian nations, including the Iroquois League and the Ohio Indians. In return for peace, the British promise to renegotiate the Walking Purchase of 1737, through which the Iroquois gave away Delaware lands in western Pennsylvania to the British colony. They also promise to build a trading post at the Forks of the Ohio River and to prohibit white settlement west of the Allegheny Mountains.
The French abandon and destroy Fort Duquesne. The French commander realizes that the fort will be overrun by Brigadier General John Forbes's force of 5,000 men—especially after the Ohio Indians, France's former allies, conclude a peace treaty with the British at Easton.
British forces under General John Prideaux capture Fort Niagara, completely severing contact between French garrisons in eastern Canada and their posts south of Lake Erie.
The French abandon Fort Carrillon when it is besieged by British General Jeffery Amherst. As they retreat, the French also destroy their fort as Crown Point. The British now control Lake Champlain and therefore the Hudson River corridor. They will rebuild Fort Carrillon and rename it Fort Ticonderoga.
General James Wolfe lands a force of British troops above Quebec and attacks the city across the Plains of Abraham. In the ensuing battle, the British suffer fewer than 700 casualties, the French more than 1,800. The French are forced to abandon the city and retreat to Montreal. Wolfe is killed in battle.
Governor-General Vaudreuil of New France surrenders Montreal, the last French stronghold in North America, without firing a shot when a British army of 17,500 British regulars, American provincial troops, and Indians converge on the city from three directions.
The Treaty of Paris is ratified, ending the French and Indian War. Signed on 3 November 1762, the treaty's ratification has been delayed by critics, including William Pitt, who believe its terms are too lenient. In the treaty, France surrenders all of its former North American territories east of the Mississippi River to Britain, except New Orleans. Canada is also ceded to Great Britain. Spain, a late entrant into the war as an ally of France, surrenders Florida to Britain. As compensation, Britain returns Cuba, which it captured during the war, to Spain. Britain also returns to France most of the sugar islands in the Caribbean that it seized during the war. In a separate treaty, France cedes its territory west of the Mississippi River to Spain.
Pontiac, an Ottawa chief, leads a coalition of Ottawas, Potawatomis, and Hurons in an attack on the British fort at Detroit. They will besiege the fort until the end of October. During that time, many tribes, including the Delawares and Shawnees of the Ohio Valley, will attack British forts throughout the Great Lakes region and the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys. Every British fort in the interior will be captured except for Forts Pitt, Niagara, and Detroit. Disease, starvation, internal dissent, British military action, and opposition from the Seven Nations of Canada will force most of the Indian nations to quit the rebellion by late fall.
A Proclamation is issued by the British government, forbidding American colonial settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains. By limiting American migration, and declaring the territory west of the Appalachians reserved for Native Americans, the British hope to avoid further conflicts.
British Parliament passes the Sugar Act, extending the tax on foreign molasses imported into the American colonies and imposing new or higher taxes on several other non-British goods, such as coffee. While Parliament has imposed other taxes on trade in the past, these are the first designed to raise revenue rather than regulate trade. The British government will defend these and other taxes imposed over the next decade as necessary to defray the costs of the recent war and ongoing military and administrative expenses in the colonies. American colonists will object to them as a form of taxation without representation, leading in 1776 to their Declaration of Independence.
Benjamin West's painting, The Death of General Wolfe, is unveiled in London.