The Seven Years War*
The "Seven Years War," the "French and Indian War," and the "Great War for Empire." Variously named and defined, each of these terms refers to the same watershed event in early American History.
Generally speaking, European superpowers France and Great Britain engaged in a long, century-long struggle for world domination that lasted from 1689 to 1815. Against an overall climate of hostility, a series of distinct conflicts took place in Europe itself and in (and over) their worldwide colonial empires.
The New York theater of the last of these North American adjuncts began with the French and Indian raid and burning of Hoosick in August 1754. North American forces fought with each other over the next two years although war was not declared officially until 1756. Although for the most part, fighting ended in North America following the fall of Quebec in 1759, this conflict was not concluded officially until the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1763.
For the people of colonial Albany, this war was particularly instructive. Beginning with the Albany Congress in June 1754, these years brought Albany its first extended and intensive contacts with people from the other British colonies and later with British armies and officials. These acquaintances had made a profound and lasting impression on rank-and-file people living in this previously insular community. Their experiences with British armies quartered in and around the city left many to wonder if the British were in Albany to protect them from the French, who then would protect them from the British army! These experiences are chronicled in the wartime journal of Sheriff Abraham Yates, Jr.
Many Albany men served in provincial military units - both as officers and soldiers and also in the supply and transportation lines. Those experiences would help colonists become revolutionaries two decades later. In addition, many of the newcomers who came during the war years became prominent residents who helped transform Albany in the years that followed.
*This essay is designed to explain a major historical (and virtually global) occurrence in its early Albany context. Beyond Albany, you might start with Wikipedia and then proceed to a google.com search. Just FYI, by March 2011, this page had moved into the top 20 on a general google search. Adding Albany to the search string, brings this page up to first or second.
first posted: 4/12/01; last revised 4/2/11