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The French and Indian War was fought between the colonies of Great Britain and New France, supported by American Indian allies on both sides.
Describe the political and economic impact of the French and Indian War on the colonies
The French and Indian War (1754–1763) is the name for the North American theater of the Seven Years' War.
The war was primarily fought over contested claims between the British and French over the land of the Ohio Country. The outcome of the war was one of the most significant developments in a century of Anglo-French conflict, with Britain gaining control over Canada and Florida.
American Indian tribes supporting France included the Wabanaki Confederacy, Algonquin, Caughnawaga Mohawk, Lenape, Ojibwa, Ottawa, Shawnee, and Wyandot.
American Indian tribes supporting the British included the Iroquois Confederacy, Catawba, and the Cherokee prior to 1758.
A peace agreement signed in 1763 that ended the Seven Years' War, or the French and Indian War; also the name for a peace agreement signed in 1783 that ended the American Revolutionary War and recognized the United States' independence.
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines. In some countries, the war is alternatively named after combats in the respective theatres: the French and Indian War (North America, 1754–63), Pomeranian War (Sweden and Prussia, 1757–62), Third Carnatic War (Indian subcontinent, 1757–63), and Third Silesian War (Prussia and Austria, 1756–63).
The French and Indian War (1754–1763) is the name for the North American theatre of the Seven Years' War. The war was fought primarily between the colonies of Great Britain and New France, with both sides supported by forces from Europe as well as American Indian allies. In 1756, the war erupted into a worldwide conflict between Britain and France. The primary targets of the British colonists were the royal French forces and the various American Indian forces allied with them.
Background to the War
The Ohio Country
The war was fought primarily along the frontiers separating New France from the British colonies from Virginia to Nova Scotia. The Ohio Country (sometimes called the Ohio Territory or Ohio Valley by the French) was the name used in the 18th century for the regions of North America west of the Appalachian Mountains and in the region of the upper Ohio River south of Lake Erie. The territory encompassed roughly the present-day states of Ohio, eastern Indiana, western Pennsylvania, and northwestern West Virginia. The issue of settlement in the region is considered to have been a primary cause of the French and Indian War and a later contributing factor to the American Revolutionary War.
In the 17th century, the area north of the Ohio River had been occupied by the Algonquian-speaking Shawnee. Around 1660, during a conflict known as the Beaver Wars, the Iroquois seized control of the Ohio Country, driving out the Shawnee and conquering and absorbing the Erie tribe. The Ohio Country remained largely uninhabited for decades and was used primarily for hunting by the Iroquois.
In the 1720s, a number of American Indian groups began to migrate to the Ohio Country. By 1724, Delaware Indians had established the village of Kittanning on the Allegheny River in present-day western Pennsylvania. The Delawares were migrating because of the expansion of European colonial settlement in eastern Pennsylvania. With them came those Shawnee who had settled in the east. Other bands of the scattered Shawnee tribe also began to return to the Ohio Country in the decades that followed. A number of Senecas and other Iroquois also migrated to the Ohio Country, moving away from the French and British imperial rivalries south of Lake Ontario.
With the invasion of the Europeans, the region was claimed by Great Britain and France, both of which sent merchants into the area to trade with the Ohio Country Indians. The area was considered central to both countries' ambitions of further expansion and development in North America. At the same time, the Iroquois claimed the region by right of conquest. The rivalry between the two European nations, the Iroquois, and the Ohio natives for control of the region played an important part of the outbreak of the French and Indian War in the 1750s.
The Outbreak of War
The war began in May 1754 because of these competing claims between Britain and France. Twenty-two-year-old George Washington, a Virginian surveyor whose family helped to found the Ohio Company, gave the command to fire on French soldiers near present-day Uniontown, Pennsylvania. This incident on the Pennsylvania frontier proved to be a decisive event that led to imperial war. For the next decade, fighting took place along the frontier of New France and British America from Virginia to Maine. The war also spread to Europe as France and Britain looked to gain supremacy in the Atlantic World.
After initially remaining neutral, the Ohio Country Indians and most of the northern tribes largely sided with the French, who were their primary trading partner and supplier of arms. The British fared poorly in the first years of the war. In 1754, the French and their American Indian native allies forced Washington to surrender at Fort Necessity, a hastily built fort constructed after Washington's attack on the French. In 1755, Britain dispatched General Edward Braddock to the colonies to take Fort Duquesne. The French, aided by the Potawotomis, Ottawas, Shawnees, and Delawares, ambushed the 1,500 British soldiers and Virginia militia who marched to the fort. The attack sent panic through the British force, and hundreds of British soldiers and militiamen died, including General Braddock. The campaign of 1755 proved to be a disaster for the British. In fact, the only British victory that year was the capture of Nova Scotia. In 1756 and 1757, Britain suffered further defeats with the fall of Fort Oswego and Fort William Henry.
The war began to turn in favor of the British in 1758, due in large part to the efforts of William Pitt, a very popular member of Parliament. Pitt pledged huge sums of money and resources to defeating the hated Catholic French, and Great Britain spent part of the money on bounties paid to new young recruits in the colonies, helping invigorate the British forces. In 1758, the Iroquois, Delaware, and Shawnee signed the Treaty of Easton, aligning themselves with the British in return for some contested land around Pennsylvania and Virginia. Between 1758 and 1760, the British military successfully penetrated the heartland of New France, with Quebec falling in 1759 and Montreal finally falling in September 1760. The French empire in North America began to crumble.
Most of the fighting between France and Britain in continental North America ended in 1760; however, the fighting in Europe continued. The war in North America officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on February 10, 1763, and war in the European theatre of the Seven Years' War was settled by the Treaty of Hubertusburg on February 15, 1763. France ceded French Louisiana west of the Mississippi River to its ally Spain, in compensation for Spain's loss of Florida to Britain (which Spain had given to Britain in exchange for the return of Havana, Cuba). France's colonial presence north of the Caribbean was reduced to the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, confirming Britain's position as the dominant colonial power in the eastern half of North America.
Britain gained control of French Canada and Acadia, colonies containing approximately 80,000 primarily French-speaking Roman Catholic residents. The British resettled many Acadians throughout its North American provinces, but many went to France, and some went to New Orleans, which they had expected to remain French.
Following the peace treaty, King George III issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763 outlining the division and administration of the newly conquered territory. To some extent, this proclamation continues to govern relations between the government of modern Canada and the First Nations. In his proclamation, George III placed Ohio Country in the vast Indian Reserve stretching from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River and from Florida to Newfoundland. Existing European settlers (mostly French) were ordered to leave or get special permission to stay. Despite its acquisition by Great Britain, the area remained officially closed to white settlement—at least for the time being—by the Proclamation of 1763, which arose from the British desire to regain peaceful relations with the Shawnee and other tribes in the region.
A New Dynamic
For France, the military defeat and the financial burden of the war weakened the monarchy and contributed to the advent of the French Revolution in 1789. For many American Indian populations, the elimination of French power in North America meant the disappearance of a strong ally and counterweight to British expansion, which over the following decades would lead to their ultimate dispossession. Although the Spanish takeover of the Louisiana territory (which was not completed until 1769) had only modest repercussions, the British takeover of Spanish Florida resulted in the westward migration of tribes that did not want to do business with the British and a rise in tensions between the Choctaw and the Creek, historic enemies whose divisions the British at times exploited. The change of control in Florida also prompted most of its Spanish Catholic population to leave.
Source: Boundless. “The French and Indian War.” Boundless U.S. History. Boundless, 27 Sep. 2016. Retrieved 26 Oct. 2016 from https://www.boundless.com/u-s-history/textbooks/boundless-u-s-history-textbook/the-colonial-crisis-1750-1775-6/the-seven-years-war-1754-1763-59/the-french-and-indian-war-1361-9654/