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The primary reason the war began was a dispute between the French and English over the border between their respective territories in the Ohio River Valley. British settlers had begun moving into the territory claimed by France primarily for firs. Additionally, a number of British interests, including the Ohio Company, laid claim to 200,000 acres, hoping to sell it later for a profit. The French used this to their advantage to woo the Indians and alienate any relationship between the British and the Indians. One French trader told a group of Indians
The English are much less anxious to take away your peltries than to become masters of your lands.
The French then buried plates in the soil which stated that the land was French soil. This created a problem for the British, as if they accepted the French claim, British North America would be sandwiched between French America and the Atlantic, a mere strip of land on the Atlantic coast.
The British considered the French action a trespass and in Spring, 1754 sent George Washington, then a 28 year old colonel into the area to drive away the French. A brief skirmish followed during which the French commander, one Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville, was wounded. Under a flag of truce, Jumonville indicated a letter in his pocket would clear up the whole matter. The letter essentially stated that the land was the property of France. When Washington turned to have his interpreter read the letter, an Indian in his group named Tanaghrisson, but called the "Half-King" by the British went up to Jumonville, said in French Tu n'est pas encore mort, mon pere ("Thou art not yet dead, my father) and buried his hatchet in the Frenchman's skull, after which he washed his hands in brain tissue. This was a signal to the other Indians with Washington who killed all the Frenchmen but one. Washington was forced to make a quick withdrawal before a larger French contingent arrived and erected a small fort, named Necessity, but was soon forced to surrender it. The ensuing battle in which Washington's commander, General Braddock, was killed, marked the first battle of the war.
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