Competing Ideas of Empire: British Perceptions of Their Six Nations Allies in the Seven Years' War

Tyla C. Betke


The Six Nations Iroquois played a crucial role for the British during the Seven Years' War by relaying important information, guarding posts, and defending borders. This paper analyzes four main primary sources published by men in direct contact with the Six Nations during the war: Superintendent of Northern Indian Affairs William Johnson, British General Charles Lee, University of Pennsylvania Provost William Smith, and plantation owner and British soldier Peter Williamson. Contrary to what historians have previously suggested, this paper argues that there was not a single British perception of their Six Nations allies during the Seven Years' War. Instead, there was a conflict within imperial ideology circulating among prominent British individuals. During and immediately after the conflict, British society continued to hold competing opinions on the uncertain position Indigenous peoples occupied in British North America.


Six Nations Iroquois; Seven Years' War; British North America; Colonialism; Indigenous History

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