The French has long made it clear that they would recognize the Iroquois claim to the Ohio country provided the Six Nations kept the English out. For the French to build the forts necessary to occupy the valley would cost far more than they could hope to recover by trade...The most immediate threat, however, was that English traders would invade the Ohio country. Britain's cheap, high-quality trade goods would become a magnet drawing away the native peoples who now traded with the French at Detroit and other posts. This in turn would weaken, and perhaps destroy the system of alliances on which French power rested in the interior of the continent.
Selfish motives drive some of these figures. Dinwiddie was given a sizable interest in the new land should the French be repelled from their forts. Gist already owned some trading business in the area. And both Washington and the Half-King were looking for power and reputation with their respective peoples. It might be argued that Villiers wanted some prestige for himself, as well, but evidence probably doesn't support that idea - though he certainly sought revenge, which could also be a selfish emotion.
I'm not bad-mouthing the father of our country here. In fact, the mistakes that Major Washington made in these early days set him up for some tough lessons in life. It is the degree of change Washington undergoes in his life that make him so appealing. He is unquestionably human - making terrible, life-threatening mistakes, presuming a knowledge that he lacks, and impulsively jumping in before wisdom kicks in. Later, he will change tactic, wisely considering alternatives in his strategizing and studying before choosing which direction to move. His views on life, sustenance, and slavery will also evolve through time, but for now we consider the raw, unripened George Washington. Fred Anderson:
Why the governor picked a twenty-one-year-old major of the Virginia militia for this mission - a man who spoke no French, had little formal education, and utterly lacked diplomatic experience - may not seem intuitively obvious.
There is much more to understand about what happens next, and it's described best in the book Young George Washington by Peter Stark. Rather than rehash Washington's "attack" of the French, the graphic killing of Ensign Jumonville, the defenseless Fort Necessity, the Journal of George Washington, and the Articles of Capitulation, I refer the reader to our Prologue to Revolution lesson set.
in preparation for my week-long Teacher Institution at Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York,
during the summer of 2019, follow the link to my Fort Ticonderoga page.
And if you want to investigate George Washington some more,
find my George Washington and Mount Vernon page for a collection of reflections
of my extensive week of residency at Mount Vernon, Virginia.