Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2005

Department 1



Ask the average person on the street about the Seven Years' War and you are likely to get a blank stare. Try again, only this time call the conflict "The French and Indian War" and you might get a faint smile of recognition. Take a different approach: ask random strangers their opinion about The Last of the Mohicans. Many will tell you they loved it, although they will more likely be thinking about Daniel Day-Lewis than James Fenimore Cooper.

Such has been the fate of one of the most important events in early history. In 2004, the 250th anniversary of George Washington's surrender at Fort Necessity passed quietly, recognized mostly by historians, reenactors, and local institutions in southwestern Pennsylvania already familiar with the story. A year later, the anniversary of Braddock's Defeat passed under similar circumstances. The coming years will bring similar anniversaries at places whose names evoke North America's colonial past: Ticonderoga, Niagara, Louisbourg, and Quebec. Museums, historical societies, and various other organizations have launched symposia, conferences, and exhibits to honor the occasion, and there is even a PBS television production scheduled for broadcast in early 2006. But no single event commemorating the 250th anniversary of the Seven Years' War in America is likely to capture national interest in the way the Bicentennial did in 1976 or Ken Burns's Civil War series did in 1990. [excerpt]