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French and Indian War in Pennsylvania

"...they said they would go speak to their Chiefs and come and tell us what they said, they returned and said they would hold fast of the Chain of friendship. Out of our regard to them we gave them two Blankets and a Handkerchief out of the Small Pox Hospital. I hope it will have the desired effect."-- William Trent's Journal, 1763

In 1754, when George Washington unknowingly granted possession of the Ohio River Valley to the French, he set in motion a series of military events that would come to be known as the French and Indian War among British colonists and would grow into the Seven Years War around the world. Although the British war effort began slowly, the strategies of William Pitt beginning in 1757 to wage a full-fledged war in the western territories of Pennsylvania would come to define Britain’s imperial policy. In the middle of these proceedings, the Native American tribes inhabiting the contested areas denied both the French and British “right” to occupy the land.

The myriad of players in this war offer contrasting perspectives used by historians to analyze these events. This unit offers students the opportunity to historically analyze the war from these perspectives, informing their understanding of how wars are remembered as well as the important role primary sources play in historical research.


18th century

Colonial period

French and Indian War

Big Ideas

Pennsylvania History

Perspective on Events

Essential Questions

  • How can the story of another Pennsylvanian, past or present, influence your life?

  • What role does analysis have in historical construction?


  • Methods of historical research, critical thinking, problem-solving, and presentation skills provide expertise for effective decision making.

  • Biography is a historical construct used to reveal positive and/or negative influences an individual can have on Pennsylvania’s society.

  • Textual evidence, material artifacts, the built environment, and historic sites are central to understanding the history of Pennsylvania.


  • Contrast multiple perspectives of individuals and groups in interpreting other times, cultures, and place.

  • Construct a biography of a Pennsylvanian and generate conclusions regarding his/her qualities and limitations.

  • Analyze a primary source for accuracy and bias and connect it to a time and place in Pennsylvania.

Background Material for Teacher



End of Unit Assessment

One common way of communicating in the 18th century was with a “broadside” pasted onto walls for everyone to see. Have students create a broadside based either on their fictional character’s view of the war or the essential questions. The broadside should include:

  • An indication of who the student represents French soldier, Philadelphia Quaker, etc.

  • A title, or name for the war based on the character’s perspective,

  • Three specific reasons or arguments to support the name proposed for the war

  • A persuasive argument to convince the viewer to remember the war as that character would wish.


Plans in this Unit

What's in a Name: Perspectives on War

Life at Fort Pitt

Grade Level

Middle School

High School

Standards/Eligible Content







PA Core Standards





About the Author

This lesson was created by Donna Sharer. Updated for SAS by Amy Seeberger, Education Intern, Historical Society of Pennsylvania.


Unit Plan

Native American- European Contact in Colonial Times

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