Diplomats, Soldiers, and Slaveholders: The Coulon de Villiers Family in New France, 1700-1763
Dickerson, Christina Marie
In 1754, young George Washington, accompanied by Virginian soldiers and Indian allies, ambushed a French camp in the woods of the Ohio Country. Joseph Coulon de Villiers, sieur de Jumonville, the leader of the French party, died in the skirmish. The Affair and its aftermath provided an impetus for the French and Indian War. Primarily, scholars interpret the Affair as a milestone that helped to mold Washington into the hero of the Revolutionary War and the father of the American nation. This interpretation minimizes Jumonville’s side of the story. My project re-contextualizes the Affair by examining Jumonville and his family in New France. This dissertation argues that Jumonville and his family members, as diplomats, soldiers, and slaveholders, had complex relations with a diverse array of native people and that these interactions played a significant role in their professional and personal lives. Within this context, the Jumonville Affair appears as a commonplace event and Washington appears as simply a soldier who became embroiled in the dangerous world of early America.