Clash of Empires: The British, French & Indian War, 1754-1763

Clash of Empires: The British, French & Indian War, 1754-1763 presents the dramatic, wide-ranging story of the French & Indian War and its impact as a turning point in American history.

The exhibit commemorates the 250th anniversary of this global conflict. Featuring rare artifacts gathered from museums and private collections around the world, Clash of Empires examines the origins, development, and aftermath of the war. It also provides a unique perspective on the conflict from each of the participants—the British, French, and Native Americans.

After a successful run at the History Center, the exhibit traveled to the Canadian War Museum/Museum of Civilization in Ottawa and the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. before returning to Pittsburgh, at home now on the History Center’s fifth floor.

Did You Know?
  • In 1753 George Washington noted in his diary, “I spent some Time in viewing the Rivers, and the Land in the Fork; which I think extremely well situated for a Fort, as it has the absolute Command of both Rivers.” He was talking about Pittsburgh’s Point, of course.
  • For his part in the French & Indian War, George Washington received nearly 3,000 acres of land in Western Pennsylvania.

Listen

Area Maps

The History Center commissioned artist Fred Threlfall to create a series of maps with the look and feel of period maps and depicting the areas important to the French & Indian War and the Clash of the Empires. All five maps are currently on display in the exhibit.

A Map of the Ohio Country, its Inhabitants, their Migrations, Town Rivers & Paths, along with Adjacent French Possessions 1750, 2005
A Map of the Ohio Country, its Inhabitants, their Migrations, Town Rivers & Paths, along with Adjacent French Possessions 1750, 2005

Life-like Figures

Commissioned for the exhibit by renowned British artist Gerry Embleton, these figures represent the war’s most fascinating characters, including an angry French officer burning his own flag; a distraught young George Washington agonizing over the decision to sign the Treaty of Fort Necessity; and Seneca leader Tanaghrisson.

Life figure - French Officer - Clash of Empires
French Officer: Upon the capitulation of Montreal in 1760, French officers burned regimental flags rather than surrender them to the victorious British.
Life figure - George Washington - Clash of Empires
George Washington: After his defeat at Great Meadows in 1754, George Washington signed a surrender document written in French, unwittingly accepting responsibility for the murder of the French envoy Jumonville.
Life figure - Tanaghrisson - Clash of Empires
Tanaghrisson: Seneca chief Tanaghrisson traveled from his home near Pittsburgh to the French camp on Lake Erie to warn them, “I desire you to withdraw, as I have done our brothers the English, for I will keep you at arms’ length.”

Photo Gallery

Artifact Gallery