Shannon – ‘Seven Years’ War

Archibald Kennedy “A British Colonial Official Sizes Up the French”

I really enjoyed reading “A British Colonial Official Sizes Up the French 1754”. This letter from Archibald Kennedy was sent to Britain a few years before the Seven Years’ War started. Kennedy was a Scottish peer who lived in the English colony of New York. He worked as a customs official. He wrote several pamphlets criticized the state of colonial affairs, “including the colonists deteriorating Indian relations, weak defenses, and reluctance to submit to royal authority”. In this letter, Kennedy describes to Britain the successful strategies used by the French. I think Kennedy is biased towards Britain and wants to make Great Britain stronger and better by stopping the threat of France in the New World. He does not want France to take over more lands that can affect Britain negatively. This letter serves as a warning to Great Britain for France’s actions in the New World. Kennedy wants from Britain to have strong relations with the Indians and take actions to stop France. He said, “That the French are now drawing a Line along the Borders…they will effectually cut off all Intercourse and Traffic, between us and the Indians inhabiting the inland Countries; and compel those who are Neighbours and Allies, by reason of the absolute Dependance they must have on the French for everything they want.” In other words, Kennedy is describing France’s strategy to Britain so they can prevent it. Also, Kennedy offers some solutions. For example, first, he thinks that Britain should send more soldiers to defend the Indian castles and provide the soldiers with better equipment and clothing. He said, “…two or three of which may be Smiths, in double Pay, with a few Field Pieces, Spare Arms, Snowshoes (with which the French are always provided)”. Second, Kennedy thinks that Britain should have better relations with the Indians by telling them that Britain is “really earnest and that they should fight for us, we must fight along with them…with an Addition of five Indians from each [Iroquois] Nation, to be in constant Pay, Peace, or Wars.” The two strategies may prevent France from pulling the Indians into their side. Overall, I find Kennedy’s writing convincing since he worked as a customs official for Britain and it would make sense for him to be providing Britain with some information about France. However, it could also be that Kennedy wanted to advertise for himself for being the savior of Britain by preventing a deadly attack from France. This reading reminded me of Samuel de Champlain who also used to encourage Europeans to have good relations with the natives. Both of Champlain and Kennedy believed that having good relations with the Natives can create a stable and safe environment.