A few weeks ago I posted the above picture to my Facebook account. The final paper for my Colonial History class is a type of writing known as the historiographic essay. Simply put, the essay is a “history of histories” where one examines how historians have written about a particular topic. In this case (as if you couldn’t tell from the picture) we are looking at the Seven Years’ War in America commonly known in the U.S. as the French and Indian War. Overall we are to have 30 sources for our essay and pictured are the books I will be using. Below is the list of books organized into an annotated bibliography which is simply a bibliography with my notes / comments about each book.
Anderson, Fred. Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766. New York: Vintage Books, 2000.
Anderson’s book emphasizes the Seven Years’ War / French and Indian War as “decisive” in American history. He argues that changes brought about within the British Empire led directly to the American Revolution. Over 700 pages, Anderson takes the book beyond the war’s traditional end in 1763. Rather, he follows events in the colonies up to 1766, concluding the book with the repeal of the Stamp Act. He is a professor of History at the University of Colorado and has written or edited several books and articles on the Seven Years’ War.
__________. The War that Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War. New York: Viking, 2005. Also by Anderson, this book was written as a companion to the PBS documentary of the same name. Not as large as Crucible, this book of Anderson’s also takes the view that the French and Indian war was instrumental in setting up the American Revolution. As Anderson notes in the Bibliographic note, many of the secondary sources are shared between the two books.
__________. “Why Did Colonial New Englanders Make Bad Soldiers? Contractual Principles and Military Conduct during the Seven Year’s War.” The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 3 (July 1981): 395-417. Written when Anderson was still a doctoral candidate, this paper examines the importance of “contractual principles” in combating “unwarranted pretension of superiors”. Anderson agues that this is reflective of how colonists felt toward authority, especially the authority of the crown. This eventually led to the British believing that Americans would not make good soldiers while putting American colonists under arms giving them military experience but also exposing them to imperial authority.
Borneman, Walter. The French and Indian War: Deciding the Fate of North America. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. Sharing the general theme that the French and Indian war set up the American Revolution in this book, Borneman, though he has a background in History (a BA and MA) is not an academic. This shows in the writing that has a more popular feel to it. Borneman highlights many of the personalities of the war including William Pitt, George Washington, Edward Braddock, and somewhat of a concentration on Robert Rogers. The first chapter does a fair job of summing up the conflicts leading up to the Seven Years’ War.
Breecher, Frank W. Losing a Continent: France’s North American Policy, 1753-1763. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1998. One of the few works to examine the French side of the Seven Years’ War, in Losing a Continent, Breecher examines both France and its colony. Chapter 3 examines Bourbon France on the eve of war, with the military analysis consisting of chapters 8-11. Breecher too seems to see the war as a prelude to the American Revolution. The difference in this book is that the war is that Breecher’s conclusions focus not just on the future of the British colonies in North America, but he includes the future of France as well. Breecher is a former member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service and has also written Securing American Independence: John Jay and the French Alliance and Negotiating the Louisiana Purchase: Robert Livingston’s Mission to France, 1801-1804.
Brumwell, Stephen. White Devil: A True Story of War, Savagery, and Vengeance in Colonial America. Boston: Da Capo Press, 2004. White Devil focuses solely on one event of the French and Indian War, the slaughter of an Abenaki village by Major Robert Rogers and his crew. One of several books published during the 250th anniversary of the war, White Devil does include Native American as active players in the story. It is not a grand sweeping political history of the war, and no major arguments are presented. White Devil, however, does help to paint a snapshot of the Indian experience during the war. Brumwell is an independent historian and also wrote Redcoats: The British Soldier and War in the Americas, 1755-1763.
__________. Redcoats: The British Soldier and War in the Americas, 1755-1763. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Stephen Brumwell’s Redcoats evolved from his doctoral dissertation done at the University of Leeds. In it, he challenges the stereotypes that have evolved in describing the British regulars who fought in the Seven Years’ War. British regulars, Brumwell argues, have been seen as “fops and fools” and while he admits a “core of truth” overall the truth is much more complex. The second major theme in Redcoats is that due to the different conditions between Europe and North America, the “American Army” evolved into an army vastly different than other British or European armies.
Clary, David A. George Washington’s First War: His Early Military Adventures. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011. George Washington is the primary focus of Clary’s book. While Clary does see the importance of the Seven Years War as the first real world war, his focus is on how Washington’s experiences sets him on the road to become a Founding Father. For Cleary, understand Washington’s experiences is key to understanding the Washington who would be commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution.
Clayton, T. R. “The Duke of Newcastle, the Earl of Halifax, and the American Origins of the Seven Years’ War.” The Historical Journal, Vol. 24, No. 3 (September 1981): 571-603. Clayton’s article argues that the American origins of the Seven Years’ War, “have been surprisingly neglected by historians” and that much of the reason that the Ohio valley was important was because of Virginia Governor Robert Dinwiddie. Clayton then goes on to argue that British policy was not as a result of what happened in America but what happened in London and Europe. Laying the blame for the war at the feet of French aggressiveness in the colonies and its perception in London, Clayton in may ways sees the war as an extension or, “simply a continuation of the last Anglo-French war”.
Crocker, Thomas E. Braddock’s March: How the Man Sent to Seize a Continent Changed American History. Yardley, Pennsylvania: Westholme Publishing, 2009. Many historians see the Seven Years War as a “decisive” point in American History. In Braddock’s March, Crocker views the Braddock campaign as a “decisive” point. For Crocker this takes two sides, military and political. He argues that the “unknowns” assembled by Braddock would, years later, form the nucleus out of which the Continental Army would be formed. It would also be the first use of rifles and shatter the myth of invincible British Regulars. On the political side there is the “burden-sharing” between the colonies and England which would eventually lead to cost sharing (taxation) and revolution.
Fowler Jr., William M. Empires at War: The French and Indian War and the Struggle for North America, 1754-1763. New York: Walker & Company, 2005. In Empires, Fowler does not see the Seven Years War as a prelude to the American Revolution. In the prologue he claims that ideologically the split between Britain and her colonies had happened years before and that by using the Revolution as a lens to view the War, historians have “masked” its true importance. For Fowler, the Seven Years War was really a world shaping event. It defined the limits of the French and British empires around the world, and in North America it was the beginning of the decline of the natives of the United States and Canada as the natives could no longer play the British and the French off against one another.
Hofstra, Warren R., ed. Cultures in Conflict: The Seven Years’ War in North America. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007. Cultures in Conflict is a collection of essays looking at several different aspects of the war. Fred Anderson once again argues that the Seven Years’ War is a significant turning point in American History leading to the Revolution. Paul Mapp looks at Britain’s evolution from a mercantile empire to a territorial one and sees the Seven Years War as an expression of this change. Jonathan R Dull argues that the War was not just another in the long history of conflicts between Britain and France but an expression of the difference between the political cultures between the two countries.Timothy J Shannon and Eric Hinderaker look at the Iroquois and Ohio Indian experiences respectively in their two essays. Woody Holton argues that the War could have made the Revolution less likely and explores reasons why that didn’t happen. And two Canadian scholars, Catherine Desbarats and Allan Greer, examine the War from the Canadian perspective.
Parkman, Francis. Montcalm and Wolfe: The French and Indian War. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co, 1901. Reprint, Boston: Da Capo Press, 2001. Part of a seven part work entitled France and England in North America, Parkman’s Montcalm and Wolfe really gives birth to histories of the Seven Years War in North America. Written over one hundred years ago, it is a reflection of the time period in which it was written. The prose can be dramatic and Parkman can ignore evidence not within his viewpoint. The idea of a woodland struggle and the noble savage has been ingrained in the American imagination since James Fenimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans a that romantic style is present here. Parkman is also writing at a time before the specialization and professionalization of the history profession so one must read his work with that in mind. However, if one is going to examine the history of the conflict, one needs to begin at the start.
Titus, James. The Old Dominion at War: Society, Politics, and Warfare in Late Colonial Virginia. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 1991. The Old Dominion at War is an examination of the Virginia colony and where its military experience fits in with the “bigger picture” socially and politically. Titus argues that while the war may have been involved in the beginning of the war, the attitudes of the Virginia ruling elite and attempts to draft the “lesser sorts” into the armies, combined with the resistance of the “lesser sorts” led to a reordering of Virginia society which made the Revolution much more likely.