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Conflicts with native Americans


British king George III
British king George III

During the French and Indian War, which began with clashes between Virginians and the French in the Ohio Valley, attacks by the Native American allies of the French were so frequent and severe that hundreds of settlers in the western area fled back across the Blue Ridge. Emboldened by the defeat of British General Edward Braddock in July 1755, the Native Americans terrorized settlements along the entire frontier. Virginia constructed a chain of forts to protect the settlers, but settlers continued to be killed until 1758, when the British captured Fort Duquesne, the French fort at present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This victory broke French power in the Ohio Valley and undermined French influence among the Native Americans.

The end of the French and Indian War did not immediately open trans-Allegheny regions to settlement. In 1763 a confederacy led by Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa people launched a war against the British. The Greenbrier settlements were destroyed, and the upper Potomac settlements were attacked. As a result, British king George III issued a proclamation that year forbidding white settlement west of the Alleghenies. Although it is often asserted that Scots-Irish colonists defied the proclamation and that Germans ignored it because they could not read English, in fact only a few settlers ventured over the Alleghenies in the early 1760s.

The great movement of settlers into trans-Allegheny Virginia began in 1769, after the signing of the treaties with the Iroquois and Cherokee.

Pioneers streamed into the Greenbrier region, the Monongahela and upper Ohio valleys, and, after 1773, the Kanawha Valley. Many of them fell victim to the Shawnee, who still claimed western Virginia. Atrocities were committed on both sides. In 1774 Governor Dunmore undertook a retaliatory expedition after a raid by the Shawnee, which itself had been in retaliation for several brutal murders of Shawnee and Mingo by white settlers. The Shawnee were defeated in a day-long battle at Point Pleasant on October 10, 1774, and their chief, Cornstalk, signed a peace treaty. Later, in a meeting in Pittsburgh in September 1775, the Shawnee, Delaware, and five other important Native American nations promised to remain neutral in the war of the American Revolution (1775-1783), which had broken out that spring between Britain and its American colonies. "West Virginia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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