Question: How Did the Seven Year War Affect Normal Citizens Living in North America?
Outline the focus of your inquiry and provide background knowledge. Why is this an important and significant question to ask about the past? Provide evidence from primary and secondary sources.
For my inquiry project, I chose the question “How Did the Seven Year War Affect Normal Citizens Living in North America?” The Seven Year war focused on the war between France and England for the control of North America. The conflict took place from 1756 to 1763, and ended with an English victory at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. The Treaty of Paris was signed, a peace agreement that ended the war.
The question I chose is a significant question to ask because it focuses on the individuals living in America and allows us to look from their perspective to see how the war affected their daily lives. Leaders today can use the experiences of normal citizens during the war to recognize how a decision would impact their citizens, and make the best choice based on this knowledge. Although I did not have enough research time to read all of these, here is an archive of primary sources I found that came from the perspectives of different people, ranging from a diary kept by an average solider to speeches and treaties between William Johnson and the Iroquois.
Continuity and Change
How are our lives and conditions similar to those found in your research? How have they changed?
Compared to the lives of the citizens who lived in 18th century North America, we can see that most present day Canadians live a more convenient and modern lifestyle. The men in the 18th century had to hunt for food, with a risk that they might not find any. They would leave home for days or even weeks. Teenagers would be in charge of their families, and they held this responsibility until their father came back. Teens who recently came out of school would search for work through an apprenticeship, which would eventually lead to their own job.
In terms of water, the quality was poor. Almost everyone drank cider, beer, and corn whiskey. This includes children, because it was the only option due to the lack of drinkable water. Compared this to nowadays, we can see that most people in North America have easy access to clean water.
In the past, there was a significantly less amount of educated doctors than we have today. Because of this, 18th century health care was minimal and often unobtainable. Even if you were in pain, you couldn’t go unless it was absolutely necessary. Your only other options are going to a local healer or travel long distances to get to a doctor. North America’s doctors and resources were limited, resulting in shorter lifespans.
Women were expected to bear five to ten children, but some of those children would not survive over two years due to sicknesses. As a result, families wouldn’t name their children until they surpassed two years old. Although some individuals living in Canada today might still face these problems, we can see that overall, the quality of life significantly increased since the 1700’s.
Here is a comic strip displaying some of the differences between Canadians in the 21st century and Americans in the 18th century. It holds some of the points above and adds some new ones. (I am not the best artist but I wanted to make a comic strip so I did):
How was/were your researched event(s) viewed by historical actors of the time? What specific values and standards did they hold? How do you know?
The English and French were rivals and viewed each other negatively. The French thought that, because they came to North America first, they had the right to claim the land, whereas the English thought that even though the French came first, they still could claim land for themselves. This conflict in beliefs and the want for land led to the war.
At first, the Indigenous people of North America did not take a side in this war. But soon, the British and French people used the tensions between the communities to bring them to their side. As they became exposed to European society, their norms and values began to change. Some of them became addicted to alcohol and reliant on guns for hunting and fighting, separating themselves from traditional cultural values and standards. When the war ended with a British victory, the Indigenous people on the most part were unhappy because overall, the French treated them better than the British. With Britain in control, they experienced more disadvantages such as being treated less as equals and being prohibited from getting an education. There were also a few short term advantages such as the Royal Proclamation.
Another group of people that lived in North America were the Filles De Roi. Their main and only job was to increase the population and raise a family. This put a lot of pressure on them, especially since they had to take care of many children. Some children did not survive more than two years, which took a big toll mentally on the mothers. Although men did most of the hard work, women also worked hard to take care of the household. Additionally, in this generation it was normal that men were considered better than women. Women would only stay in school until they knew enough to provide for their family, while boys stayed until they received a full education.
Overall, this shows that we have significantly adapted and changed our beliefs over the past few years. Each group of people held different values, and interactions between society’s helped to shape and change norms for better or worse.
Inquiry Question Conclusion
What conclusions can you reach about your question, based on the research you conducted?
Because of the war, both England and France suffered financially. For France, the monarchy was weakened and they had no choice but to increase taxes. The normal citizens disliked the idea, and this conflict eventually led to the French revolution. On the English side, we can see that although the British suffered financially, they controlled North America and held the ability to expand further West (until the Royal Procclamation outlawed it). Normal citizens owned more land, which meant more profit and more work.
During the war, women, specifically the Filles De Roi, were purposed to increase the population of the group. Since the father or the men of the family would often leave to go to the war, teenagers or the oldest man of the family would care for them and their farm. With their country urging them to keep increasing the population, it was a lot of stress for those women.
The war negatively impacted the Indigenous people. With the arrival of the Europeans came the arrival of a new culture and foreign diseases like Smallpox. Indigenous people were unaccustomed to the diseases and suffered the consequences. As Hobbes would say, they became corrupted by society. Once the battle between the French and the English became more heated, the Europeans used tensions between indigenous communities to push the Indigenous groups to their side. They became involved in the bloodshed and many died.
If I were to further this investigation, I would ask the question How did the Seven Years War Lead to the French Revolution? In class, we already learned about how the 7 Years War and other events led to the American revolution, so I’m curious how this conflict led to the French Revolution.