French and Indian War

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The name French and Indian War is used mainly in the United States and in English-speaking Canada and refers to the two main enemies of the British colonists: the royal French forces and the various indigenous forces allied with them.

British and European historians use the term the Seven Years’ War, as do many Canadians.

French Canadians call it La guerre de la Conquête (War of Conquest).

The war was fought primarily along the frontiers between New France and the British colonies, from Virginia in the South to Nova Scotia in the North.

It began with a dispute over control of the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, called the Forks of the Ohio, and the site of the French Fort Duquesne and present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The dispute erupted into violence in the Battle of Jumonville Glen in May 1754, during which Virginia militiamen under the command of 22-year-old George Washington ambushed a French patrol.

Also known as the Seven Years’ War, this New World conflict marked another chapter in the long imperial struggle between Britain and France.

When France’s expansion into the Ohio River valley brought repeated conflict with the claims of the British colonies, a series of battles led to the official British declaration of war in 1756.

Boosted by the financing of future Prime Minister William Pitt, the British turned the tide with victories at Louisbourg, Fort Frontenac and the French-Canadian stronghold of Quebec.

During 1754 and 1755, the French defeated in quick succession the young George Washington, Gen. Edward Braddock, and Braddock’s successor, Governor William Shirley of Massachusetts.

In 1755, Governor Shirley, fearing that the French settlers in Nova Scotia (Acadia) would side with France in any military confrontation, expelled hundreds of them to other British colonies; many of the exiles suffered cruelly.

Throughout this period, the British military effort was hampered by lack of interest at home, rivalries among the American colonies, and France’s greater success in winning the support of the Indians.

In July 1758, the British won their first great victory at Louisbourg, near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. A month later, they took Fort Frontenac at the western end of the river.

Then they closed in on Quebec, where Gen.

James Wolfe won a spectacular victory on the Plains of Abraham, September 1759 (though both he and the French commander, the Marquis de Montcalm, were fatally wounded).

With the fall of Montreal in September 1760, the French lost their last foothold in Canada.
Since hostilities continued in other theaters for a few years, the French and Indian War, technically, didn’t end until 1763.

In the Treaty of Paris, France had to give England all of Canada and the eastern half of Louisiana. In exchange, they retained control of a few Caribbean sugar islands and two fishing islands along the Canadian coast. Spain gained control of the western half of the Louisiana Territory.

Spain also traded Florida in exchange for Cuba.

The results of the war effectively ended French political and cultural influence in North America. England gained massive amounts of land and vastly strengthened its hold on the continent.