Today’s IGHR course in Virginia genealogy got to the heart of the matter: Westward migration and Virginia (and Virginians) in the Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.
It felt like we were cramming a week’s worth of instruction into each 75-minute segment. And, indeed, there are a lot of events and a lot of records to cover.
A couple of standouts:
I had known that George Washington started the French and Indian Wars by allowing his troops to kill a French diplomat, then admitting culpability for the event in a French document he signed even though he could not read French.
I had also known that George Washington was the one of the wealthiest landowners in the United States, subsequent to his marriage to Martha Custis.
And while I had realized that the Stamp Act was introduced in order to pay for the expensive French and Indian Wars, I had not considered the fact that the folks with the most to lose because of the increased taxation were the wealthy. This was followed by the repeal of the Stamp Act and its replacement by the Townshend Acts which established additional duties on paper, paint, lead, glass, and tea, which the colonies could neither produce in North America, nor buy from anyone but Britain.
Further, and even more important, is the fact that the British crown was contradicting itself with the Royal Proclamation of 1763 limiting expansion westward (to avoid re-starting war with the Indians), and promises to provide bounty land outside the Proclamation line to soldiers who had served the crown in the French and Indian Wars.
So, economically, a man like George Washington was seeing promised land grants delayed, while taxes and external control from Britain was being increased. It would have been political and economic suicide for Washington and his peers to ignore these provocations from England.