The British victory in the French and Indian War led to greater economic opportunities for Great Britain’s North American colonies, but it ironically also helped the nation’s thirteen American colonies eventually to become independent. It also facilitated the ability of the American colonists to trade.
The French and Indian War was the North American portion of a larger war between Great Britain and France. The larger war, known as the Seven Years’ War, was fought in Europe as well as North America. Britain’s North American forces were supported by troops from the thirteen colonies and Nova Scotia, while the French were aided by troops from New France, which included Quebec, Louisiana, the Ohio River Valley, and some Atlantic islands. Various Native American tribes also participated in the fighting, with some supporting the British and others aiding the French.
The French and Indian War broke out over a long-standing dispute concerning territory west of the Appalachian Mountains. As the thirteen British colonies increased in population, they started to expand into the Appalachian region in a search for more land and trade, particularly in the Ohio River Valley. The colonists had the support of the British government, which argued that this uncharted territory should be open to them as well as to the French. By the mid-1750’s, however, France stationed soldiers in the area.
The fighting began in 1754, when George Washington attacked French forces at Fort Duquesne, which had previously belonged to Great Britain. Neither side issued a formal declaration of war, however, until 1756. France had the advantage for the first half of the war. The momentum in the war shifted toward Great Britain in 1758. The most important battle of the war occurred in September, 1959, when British forces won on the Plains of Abraham in what became modern-day Quebec City. On February 10, 1763, France and Great Britain, among other belligerents, signed the Treaty of Paris. As a result, Great Britain acquired Quebec, Cape Breton, and all other French territory east of the Mississippi River, thus making the British the only European power on the Atlantic coast of North America.
Ironically, the relationship between the thirteen colonies and Great Britain began to deteriorate soon after the war. The colonists did not want to bear any of the financial burden for the war or for maintaining a British troop presence, especially when they believed these soldiers were preventing them from moving west. These issues contributed to the eventual decision of the colonies to seek independence and the creation of the United States.
Dale, Ronald J. The Fall of New France: How the French Lost a North American Empire, 1754-1763. Halifax, N.S.: James Lorimer, 2004. Marston, Daniel. The French-Indian War, 1754-1760. Oxford, England: Osprey, 2002. Schwartz, Seymour I. The French and Indian War, 1754-1763: The Imperial Struggle for North America. Edison, N.J.: Book Sales, 1999.
Boston Tea Party
Canadian trade with the United States
Fur trapping and trading
Parliamentary Charter of 1763