The French and Indian War
During the 1600s and 1700s, British and French immigrants came to North America in search of a better life and more opportunities. Both countries had been at war with one another for over a century and as immigrants from the two countries arrived in North America, so did their hatred for one another. This hatred and rivalry to be the greatest power in the world would eventually lead to the French and Indian War.
The French, as you may recall, settled in what we today we know as Canada, as well as the area of land between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. This area of land, the Ohio River Valley, had rich and fertile soil with a great deal of natural resources. Due to the richness of the land, this territory was sought after by many American colonists. American colonists wanted to expand, access, and settle in the Ohio River Valley because of the many resources it had to offer.
But didn't the French claim the land? And what about the Native Americans?
Yes the French did claim the Ohio River Valley. The fact that the American colonists wanted to (and some were already doing so) move into the valley lead to the French & Indian War. Another cause was that colonists from both countries were clashing over the fur trade and rights to the rich fishing grounds of the North Atlantic. One thing both sides were well aware was that Native Americans could play a crucial role in the war.
Unlike the British, the French had many Native
Americans allies. As you may recall, the French were not interested in taking
over Native American land, they were mainly interested in trading for furs. The
French were also more tolerant of Native Americans than the British and often
times, French trappers and traders married Native American women. Native
Americans also helped the French by raiding British settlements. The most
powerful group of Native Americans in the East was the Iroquois Confederacy. The
Iroquois remained independent of the fighting by trading with both the British
and the French. However, by the 1700s, the Iroquois came under increased
pressure as the British moved into the
Advantages & Disadvantages
It sounds like the French have the advantage when it came to who had more Native American tribes on their side. Did they have any other advantages and did the British have any advantages?
Both sides had advantages and disadvantages at the onset, or beginning, of the war. The French, as you read above, had the support of most Native American tribes. The government of New France was a single, uniformed government and therefore could make decisions much quicker. The British colonies, on the other hand, had thirteen different colonial assemblies. This made it extremely hard for the colonies to agree on how to go about fighting the war. The British did, however, have a very large and powerful navy, the population in its colonies was 15times greater than that of New France and the colonies were clustered together along the coast, making it easier to defend from an attack. The settlements in New France were widely scattered and therefore harder to defend.
Albany Plan of Union
Did anyone in the English Colonies come up with a way to make it quicker for them to make decisions?
During the early stages of the war, Benjamin Franklin, along with other colonial delegates, met in Albany, NY to devise a plan that would unify the 13 English Colonies. The plan called for a unified government called the Grand Council with elected representatives from each colony. The council would have the power to raise taxes, make laws, and set up the defense of the colonies. This plan was called the Albany Plan of Union. Although the delegates voted to accept the plan, it was not approved by any of the colonial assemblies. None of the colonies wanted to give up any of its powers to a central council.
What battles took place and who won the war?
Several battles took place during the French and Indian War. The first battle was the battle at Fort Necessity. At this battle a young George Washington lead British troops against the French and lost. Shortly thereafter the battle at Fort Duquesne took place. During this battle the British suffered a great defeat, losing almost half of their forces, including General "Bulldog" Braddock. For the next two years the British suffered many defeats until, in 1757, William Pitt became head of the British government and set out to win the war in North America.
So things started going well for the British?
Indeed. In 1758, the British captured Louisbourg, the most important fort in French Canada, thus changing the tide of the war in their favor. The British also gained control over a fort they had previously lost, Fort Duquesne, and renamed it Fort Pitt. By the summer of 1759, the British were winning battle after battle and pushed onward to the all important French city of Quebec. The battle for Quebec was key for both sides. If the French lost it, they would be unable to supply their forts farther up the St. Lawrence and if the British gained control, it would mean a possible end to the war. The British attacked at the Plains of Abraham, a grassy field just out the city, and were victorious. Soon after the fall of Quebec, the British gained control of Montreal and the war in North America ended.
Treaty of Paris, 1763
So the war ends, who gets what?
Under the Treaty of Paris, 1763, Britain gained Canada and all French lands east of the Mississippi River from France and Florida from Spain. Spain had entered on the side of the French in 1762 and although part of the losing side, gained all French lands west of the Mississippi River and the all important port city, New Orleans. The French were allowed to keep a few sugar growing islands in the West Indies, but for the most part, the war ended their empire in North America.
Proclamation of 1763
Now that the colonists and Britain gained control over French territories, the colonists were allowed to move into the area, right?
Nope. Once the French and
Indian War ended, the British gained control over all French territory in
How did the colonists feel about all this?
For the most part, colonists did not approve of the Proclamation and were rather disappointed that they did not have immediate access to land they just helped fight a war for. Colonists also became angered by the Proclamation when they found that they had to pay for the 10,000 troops stationed to keep them out of the new territories. Although it was the law, many colonists simply ignored the Proclamation and moved west anyways.
Wow. Sounds like the colonists are starting to have problems with Britain and its' laws.
You'll find out soon enough. :) This is just the beginning.