Seven Years War
The French and Indian War was the last major conflict in North America before the Revolutionary War, and as such had a sever impact on colonial society in the New World. Both Britain and France had steadily expanded their territories into the Ohio River Valley and since the fur trade prospered in this region, both countries wished to control it. Fighting began in 1754 when George Washington and his colonial troops met the French and lost against them in battle.
But the British were not to be put down that easily—even as Washington was being defeated, representatives from seven colonies met in Albany, New York, to plan the initiative against the French, who had built a chain of forts along the Allegheny River in western Pennsylvania. At the same time, the Seven Years’ War was happening on the European stage but with vastly different consequences and for different reasons then those that arose in North America.
What is most interesting about the area in which the main fighting was happening between the French and British, and the reason for the Seven Years’ War’s other name in North America, the French and Indian War, is that this area was occupied by many Native Americans of various different tribes and various loyalties. They were propositioned by the French and English to take sides in the war between the two long-time enemies, and promises were made to the Native American tribes that were expected to be kept by both the French and English, depending on the outcome of the war and because of their alliances.
After early victories for the French, the reinvigorated British force under the leadership of Britain’s secretary of state William Pitt took French forts along the Allegheny and met French troops in battle in Quebec. Fighting continued until 1763 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. The British won the spoils, gaining control of all French lands in Canada as well as the French territories east of the Mississippi River, with the exception of New Orleans, which was ceded to Spain, along with its holdings west of the Mississippi. Britain also gained control of Florida from Spain as a result of the French and Indian War.
The British had been able to drive out one of the largest threats against the colonies by eliminating the threat of the French. The colonists viewed this victory over their long-time enemies France and Spain as a triumph over tyranny because they believed these other nations would threaten their way of life and the British right to rule over the colonies. There was long-standing bad feelings between the French, Spanish, and British and it was this political climate that caused the colonists to feel this way about their victory in the Seven Years War.
This would become extremely important to the future of the colonies in its move towards becoming a fledgling nation within its own right. Anglo-Indian relations were deeply affected by this war, however, and not for the better. The Native Americans had been influential in determining the outcome of the French and Indian War, and yet, when all was said and done and the smoke had cleared, the Native Americans expected the English to keep their promises made to them in exchange for their alliance and help in fighting during the war, but the British did not.
New trade policies that were unfavorable to the American Indians were enacted and as a result, Pontiac’s Rebellion was begun in 1763. An Ottawa chief, Pontiac led a rebellion against the British in the Great Lakes Region of North America. He believed that the Native Americans had become too dependent on the European settlers who had come in and taken away their freedoms and broken their promises to them. He also spoke out against his Native American brethren drinking the alcohol that the white men had brought with them and which was the downfall of many American Indians.
Pontiac once said in a speech in 1763, “I know that those whom you call the children of your Great Father supply your wants, but if you were not bad, you would well do without them. You might live wholly as you did before you knew them (Mintz). ” Pontiac’s belief was that the Native American had become far too reliant on what the white man provided, and by eliminating that reliance, they could have a better life.
In the end, the French and Indian War had the most significant impact on colonial society in that it eliminated the French threat, thus eliminating one of the greatest threats against their way of life and one of the major reasons for the need of the British Empire ruling them. This war opened up the war for the colonists to look towards independence and a different way of life for themselves, one in which they controlled their own destiny outside of the British influence, and it led to the Revolution.