American Heritage: Eyes focused on the Ohio ValleyPublished 10:09pm Wednesday, September 5, 2012
On Feb. 20, 1755, King George II had decided he no longer wanted to tolerate the French’s inhabitation of British territory. Both the French and the British had their eyes on the Ohio Valley.
The area in what today is called Pittsburgh, Pa., the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers merged. The Ohio River began at that point.
Both, the French and the British realized that whoever controlled this area, controlled the whole Ohio Valley. The British made a treaty with the Iroquois Indians in 1744. This treaty was known as the Treaty of Lancaster. Under this treaty, the British said that they were given legal rights to this area.
However, the Iroquois Indians did not recognize any such rights. In 1748, when approached by the French, they assured the French that they had given no rights to the territory over to the British. The Indians did not believe in the individual rights of ownership of land, therefore they believed that no one, including a chief or any individual had the right to give land to anyone.
In those years there were land speculation companies in America. One of the first was the Ohio Co. Robert Dinwiddie, who was the lieutenant governor of colonial Virginia. He was a partner in this company. He did not like the idea that the French was expanding their presence in the Ohio Valley.
In 1753, he received word that the French had built two forts that he felt were a threat to what he felt the British had claim to and to the interests of the Virginia colony. He complained to Board of Trade in a letter, and in August 1753, the British government gave him authority to investigate what he had heard. If it was true, Dinwiddie was allowed to require them to leave that territory.
This is where George Washington came into the picture.