It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare. — Edmund Burke

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

Wolfe at Quebec

Until 1756, the war between the French and the British raged only in America; but after that it broke out in Europe also, where it was known as the "Seven Years' War."

The French sent over Montcalm, one of their best generals, who, helped by the Indians, soon took and burned Oswego. Next, he captured Fort William Henry, which the Americans had just built; but he promised that the garrison should leave under safe escort (1757). His Indian allies, however, loath to see the foe depart unharmed, suddenly attacked them, and killed many. Montcalm bravely and vainly tried to stop this, crying: "Kill me, but spare the English who are under my protection."

This year of 1757 was, on the whole, a disastrous one for the British; but during the next, the tables were turned. The principal statesman in England was then William Pitt, a good friend to the American colonies. Knowing that, unless prompt measures were taken, the British would lose the main part of their possessions in America, Pitt sent over men with great stores of arms and money.

The British and American troops, properly equipped, now started out again to carry out Braddock's plan. This time, Forbes was in command, ably assisted by Washington, and they forced the French to abandon Fort Duquesne. Near its ruins the British built a stockade which was named Pittsburg, in honor of William Pitt.

Upon returning to Virginia after this triumph, Washington, who had lately married a widow with two children, quietly took his seat in the House of Burgesses. To his dismay, the Speaker praised him for all he had done for his country. Embarrassed by this speech, Washington arose and vainly tried to make the proper response, until the Speaker, seeing his predicament, kindly said: "Sit down, Mr. Washington; your modesty equals your valor, and that surpasses the power of any language I possess."

A few months before the seizure of Fort Duquesne, the British captured the fortress of Louisburg for the second time, and Fort Frontenac was destroyed. Thus, step by step, the French were driven into Canada, where James Wolfe, a brave young British officer, was ordered to take Quebec. Now, Quebec is built upon a high rock, and it was impossible to reach its citadel from three sides. But Wolfe, thinking that it could be attacked from the Plains of Abraham, went up the river past the city, and then, one night, drifted noiselessly downstream toward the place where he wished to land.

Wolfe was a charming young man, loving art and poetry, and as he went down the St. Lawrence, he mentioned a poem of Gray's, saying: "I would rather be the author of the 'Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard' than have the glory of beating the French to-morrow." Then he repeated the following lines with deep feeling:

"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,

And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,

Await alike the inevitable hour;

The paths of glory lead but to the grave."

As the brave young man seemed to foresee, the path of glory was to lead him also to the grave. A few minutes later, his boats came within range of the French sentinels, and their challenge was answered in such good French that they let the boats pass. After landing, Wolfe climbed up the steep path, and had his army all drawn up for battle on the Plains of Abraham the next morning.

Montcalm, taken thus unawares, led out his troops and fought bravely; but he was defeated by Wolfe, who, as well as Montcalm, was mortally wounded in the fray. The French commander breathed his last a few hours later, saying: "Thank God, I shall not live to see Quebec surrender!"

Battle of Quebec

His equally brave young enemy, dying on the battle-field, heard his men cry: "They run! they run!" Breathlessly he inquired, "Who run?" but when he heard that it was the French, he fell back, saying: "Now God be praised! I can die in peace."

This memorable battle, fought in 1759, is commemorated by a monument on* the Plains of Abraham, on which the names of both generals are carved. There is also a famous monument in Westminster Abbey, in honor of Wolfe, the conqueror of Quebec.

The fall of Quebec decided the fate of the French in America. They had already lost the Ohio valley, Forts Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and soon after, Montreal surrendered too.

Although the last French and Indian War was now over in America, the war between France and England continued until 1763, when it was ended by the treaty of Paris. Because more land changed hands on this occasion than ever before, the treaty of Paris is known in history as the

biggest land deal ever made. To Great Britain France gave up Canada and her claims to all the land east of the Mississippi, except New Orleans. For herself she kept only two small islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, on which to dry fish. Spain, siding with France in this war, received from her ally all of Louisiana west of the Mississippi, and the city of New Orleans. To recover Havana, which had been taken by a British fleet, Spain gave up Florida, which had belonged to her ever since Ponce de Leon first visited it in 1512.

All these changes did not please everybody, and the Indians so disliked the English rule that, led by Pontiac, one of their chiefs, they began a war which bears his name (1763). In the course of this struggle seven forts were taken, and many settlers cruelly slain.

Wolfe's monument in Westminster

The garrison at Detroit, however, having been warned that the Indians were planning a surprise, showed so brave a front that Pontiac failed to get possession of that place. But some of his allies had better luck at Michilimackinac. They assembled near there as if to play a game, and tossing their ball nearer and nearer the palisade, finally made a wild dash through the open gates. The garrison was butchered, and only one trader managed to escape. Then, after continuing this war some time longer, the Indians were forced to submit, and three years later, Pontiac, the leader of the revolt, was shot by an Indian who had been bribed to kill him.


Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell