Benjamin Franklin Papers

Rise of the Late War, [18 May 1756]

Rise of the Late War

Ad: American Philosophical Society

When and for what purpose Franklin prepared this brief chronology has not been determined; no direct connection between it and any of his other writings has been found. The words “late War” in the endorsement suggest 1763 or a subsequent year for its composition, although he may have added the endorsement some time after compiling the text. While he could not have known about the declaration of war, May 18, 1756, until two months later, the editors have decided to depart from their general chronological rules and print the chronology at this point, to mark an event of major importance in the history of colonial America and in Franklin’s own career.

Sept. 1749. French having made Pretensions to a Part of Acadia or Nova Scotia,9 and erecting a Fort on the River St. John, Orders were sent to Govr. Cornwallis to oppose all Settlements of the French in any Part of the Province.
 In Sept. or October M. le Corne took Post at Chignecto. Govr. Cornwallis sent 500 Troops against it. On which the French abandoned it, after first having burnt the Town. But it seems they returned again, for in
Sept. 1750. Governor Cornwallis goes to Chignecto with 1000 regular Forces, attacks the Indians and French, beats them and takes Possession.
1751.  French build a Fort near Chignecto, with[in] 1½ Mile of ours, and fire from it at the Dover Sloop. They claim all the Territory without the Peninsula.
1753.  Aug. 28. Lord Holderness sends a circular Letter to all the Governors, acquainting them that the King had received Information of the Designs of the French to commit Hostilities on some Parts of his Dominions in America, and directs the Governors to be on their Guard, require the French to retire, and repel Force by Force, but only within the King’s undoubted Dominions.1
 Dec. 15. The French had built a Fort at Beef River2 near the Ohio, and refuse to retire on the Requisition of Govr. Dinwiddie one of the Ohio Company, as appears by the Letter of St. Pierre to that Governor sent by Major Washington. — Jan. 1754. Company’s Fort begun on Ohio.
1754.  Virginia Feb. 9. In October last a Messenger sent to enquire whether the French had built Forts on the Back of our Settlements, found that 1500 regular Forces from France had built 3 on the Ohio on some Lands of which several Gentlemen in London and Virginia had a Grant from the King. [In the margin:] July. Congress at Albany.
 March 16. General Assembly vote £10,000 to support British Rights in the interior Parts of America.3
 April. French take the Ohio Fort, from the Ohio Company.
July 9. 1755. Braddock defeated in attempting to retake it.
June 6 — Alcide taken and the Lys. June 16. Beausejour taken by Monckton.4
May 18 1756. War declared against France. Declaration gives Encroachments in Nova Scotia as the first Cause.5

Endorsed: Rise of the late War.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9The events of 1749–51 in Nova Scotia summarized here are described more fully in Gipson, British Empire, V, 181–97.

1On the Holderness letter and the events of 1752–55 in western Pennsylvania summarized here, see above, V, 62, 222, 273–5, and this volume, p. 109.

2Rivière aux Boeufs; see map, above, V, 225.

3William W. Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, being A Collection of the Laws of Virginia, VI (Richmond, 1819), 416–20; R.A. Brock, ed., The Official Records of Robert Dinwiddie, I (Richmond, 1883), 93, 119.

4The Alcide and Lys were two French warships captured near Cape Race, Newfoundland, June 8 (not 6), 1755, by ships of a British fleet under command of Vice-Admiral Edward Boscawen. A third French ship escaped to Louisbourg. Lieut. Col. Robert Monckton captured Fort Beauséjour on the Chignecto Isthmus of Nova Scotia, June 16. Gipson, British Empire, VI, 110–13, 226–33.

5News of the declaration of war appeared in the New York papers (where BF was at the time) on July 19 and in Philadelphia July 22. The text of the declaration was published in each city one week later. N.Y. Mercury, July 19 and 26, 1756; Pa. Gaz., July 22 and 29, 1756.

Index Entries