French and Indian War.

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French and Indian War.

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French and Indian War.
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French and Indian War.
I

INTRODUCTION

French and Indian War (1754-1763), the last of four North American wars waged from 1689 to 1763 between the British and the French. In these struggles, each
country fought for control of the continent with the assistance of Native American and colonial allies. The French and Indian War differed from previous confrontations,
however. The earlier wars consisted primarily of skirmishes between small regular units of the European powers aided by local militiamen. The French and Indian War
was part of a 'great war for empire,' a determined and eventually successful attempt by the British to attain a dominant position in North America, the West Indies, and
the subcontinent of India. Although the French and Indian War began in America, it expanded into Europe as the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), and at the same time
into Asia as the Third Carnatic War (see Carnatic Wars). The French and Indian War not only stripped France of its North American empire, it also caused Britain to
change its relationship to its colonies, a change that eventually led to the American Revolution.

II

EARLY RIVALRIES

By the end of the 17th century, the British had established flourishing colonial settlements along the Atlantic Coast in New England and in the Chesapeake Bay region.
At the same time, France had founded small communities along the St. Lawrence River and had claimed the entire Mississippi River Valley, following the expeditions of
French explorers Louis Joliet and René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. These North American colonies became part of an intense rivalry between Great Britain and
France. Each country tried to equal or surpass the economic, political, and military power of the other through colonization, alliances, and warfare.
Beginning in 1689, Britain fought a century-long series of wars with France and its ally, Spain. On three occasions prior to the French and Indian War, these hostilities
spilled over into the western hemisphere where overseas colonies could provide important advantages. Britain and France competed to control the valuable fur trade on
the North American mainland and the rich sugar production on the islands of the West Indies. Both nations received military assistance from colonists in these wars, but
also relied on the help of Native American peoples who participated because of their own rivalries for land and power.
The first of these conflicts was King William's War (1689-1697), known in Europe as the War of the League of Augsburg. In North America, this war consisted of a
number of skirmishes that produced no changes in territory. The New England militia and their Native American allies, the Iroquois, fought against French troops and
their Algonquian Native American allies on the northern frontier in the American colonies and in Canada. The New Englanders captured Port Royal, the capital of French
Acadia (now the portion of Canada that includes Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island), but the Treaty of Ryswick (1697) that ended the war in
Europe also returned Acadia to France.
The next conflict was Queen Anne's War (1702-1713), known in Europe as the War of the Spanish Succession. During this war, the French and British again fought
battles along the New England frontier. However, the northern region of New York remained quiet because the Iroquois adopted a policy of "aggressive neutrality,"
selling furs to both the French and the English but refusing to fight for either side. The major battle was a British and colonial attempt to capture Québec in 1710.
Although the expedition failed, Britain used victories in Europe to gain significant additional territory in the Peace of Utrecht (1713-1714). From France, Britain obtained
Newfoundland, Acadia, the Hudson Bay region of northern Canada, and greater access to the Native American fur trade. From Spain, France's ally, Britain acquired the
Mediterranean fortress of Gibraltar and trading privileges in Spanish America. These gains enhanced Britain's commercial supremacy and gave it extensive territories in
North America.
A new conflict, King George's War (1744-1748), began outside of North America in 1739 when Spain tried to halt commerce between its North American colonies and
Britain. This trade war became part of a general European conflict, the War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748). In 1745 New England militiamen captured the French
naval fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island (near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River), but the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) returned the fortress to France.

III

BEGINNING OF THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR

The last of the conflicts between Britain and France for control of North America was the French and Indian War. It began in the struggle for control of the Ohio Valley.
For more than a generation, the powerful Iroquois Confederacy, an alliance of several Native American nations from the Iroquoian language family, dominated a middle
ground between the French and British colonies in North America. The Iroquois, originally centered in western New York, had gained control of a vast region in the
interior of the continent by alliances with other Native American peoples and had successfully excluded the European nations from this territory. The Iroquois were able
to maintain their power against that of both the British and the French, but this three-way balance of power began to break down during the 1740s. British traders
penetrated deep into the Ohio country and established direct relations with tribal groups who previously had been controlled by the Iroquois or had traded only with the
French.

A

Rivalry for the Ohio Valley

The Ohio company, an association of land speculators based in Virginia, encouraged the British excursions. The company had received a grant of 500,000 acres from
the British king and wanted to move traders and settlers into this interior region. In 1753 Governor Robert Dinwiddie of Virginia, who was also a leading member of the
Ohio Company, dispatched 21-year-old George Washington on his first military mission. Washington carried a message to the French, warning them to leave the region.
In the following year Governor Dinwiddie ordered the construction of a fort at the forks of the Ohio (where the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers meet), later the site of
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
These developments convinced the French governor-general of Canada of the need to dominate the Ohio Valley militarily in order to protect France's strategic interests
in the American interior. The French immediately reinforced their existing forts south of Lake Erie and exp...


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