British and French Rivalry – Ohio Valley – 1753 | P1

British and French Rivalry – Ohio Valley – 1753 | P1


Prelude to War – Ohio Valley

Fort Le Boeuf-Site Marker

North American colonies of the British and French
Entered into warfare over land each did clench,
Proclaiming entitlement as occupied dominance.
As there were no clear division lines
To ownership of land, lack of agreeable confines
Pushed rivalry to strong-arm intolerance.

Prelude to war was the movement west–
Traders in the Ohio Valley spread their interest
Toward outposts and better Indian friendship.
Virginia’s Ohio Company shared the same intention
With a kingly land grant to Ohio’s upper extension,
Sending surveyor Gist exploring land for ownership.

British Land Grant Threatened By French

Virginia Gov. Robert Dinwiddie
Virginia Governor Robert Dinwiddie |

Control of Ohio’s valley rivers meant trade regulation
And distribution along waterways with no restriction–
An important route to the Mississippi and westward.
Ohio Company shareholders had an economic stake,
And the forays the French did partake,
Threatened Virginian’s British land award.

Some of the shareholders were Virginia planters
Prospecting trade and land as venturers,
Till the French blocked the Ohio territory.
Company prospects halted and left undone–
Shareholders affected were three Washingtons,
Mason, Mercer, Lee, Dinwiddie, and Hanbury.

Now, French settlers in the Ohio Valley region
Resented English traders, and their reason
For more protection was build domination.
They raised forts in Pennsylvania’s backcountry,
A bold advance along its southern boundary–
A most defiant turn to exact provocation.

Great Britain rejected their land claim right away,
As monarchy land grants outweigh
Any such insolent French declaration.
Resistance grew, the French did not withdraw
Their key river position for another king’s law–
Their fate to the west hinged on this possession.

British Major George Washington

British Major George Washington
British Major George Washington

In November 1753, Virginia’s Governor Dinwiddie
Sent Maj. George Washington on a difficult journey
To Fort Le Boeuf to deliver the French a warning.
Washington left Williamsburg for that long, cold ride,
Joining French and Indian interpreters and surveyor guide–
To advise the French into withdrawing.

Washington wore his dark brown hair in a queue,
His British hat pulled down slightly askew
Against an autumn turned gray and wintry.
Uniformed and commanding upon his horse,
Muscular and long-boned, he was an arresting force
Of proportion, composure, and dignity.

The expedition needed more skills and techniques,
So they hired Indian traders and servants at Wills Creek
At sunrise, they rode west further into backcountry.
It was late November, through icy rain and deep snow
They reached Monongahela River and saw its overflow–
Its high water a crossover quandary.

John Buxton - Blacksmith of Venango
John Fraser | Blacksmith of Venango – John Buxton painting |

Washington agreed with his men to take a canoe
From fur trader, John Fraser, whom they knew,
To send supplies ahead down river.
They rode their horses ten miles to meet
The canoe with supplies, build camp, and retreat–
Washington needed a new plan to consider.

At a high point above the river fork in the valley,
Washington and Gist surveyed the area to tally
Britain’s best advantage and defense.
A fort at the fork on two rivers, the Ohio-Allegheny
And the deep Monongahela, they agreed would oversee
All waters around the fork’s confluence.


Washington and Gist at fork of Monongahela River junction
Washington and Gist at fork of Monongahela River junction |



Mount Vernon Ladies Association. 2015. The Journal of Major George Washington.
MountVernon.Org. Ten Facts About George Washington and the French & Indian War.
Colligan, K., A. Manella, and M. Gorzalski. 2009. Ohio Company Papers – Ohio Company (1747-1779). University of Pittsburgh Library System, ULS Archives Service Center.
R.Blanchard. 1880. The Discovery and Conquests of The Northwest. Chicago: Cushing, Thomas & Company, Publishers. Library-University of California Davis.
History of the Brookline Community (1754-2014) 

Comments are closed.