Canadian History-The French and Indian War

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The Victory of Montcalm's Troops at Carillon

The Victory of Montcalm's Troops at Carillon

The Conquest of Quebec

 

The French and Indian War was a conflict fought in North America from 1754 to 1763.

The term, “French and Indian War” refers to the two opponents of the British colonists, the royal French armies and their First Nations allies. The French and Indian War was the fourth colonial conflict fought between the British and the French during the 17th and 18th Centuries. The French and Indian War was fought for control of what is now the province of Quebec.

The conflict is known by several different names. In British North America during the 17th and 18th Century, it was traditional to name wars after the reigning monarch. However, there was already a conflict named King George’s War and the current conflict became known as the French and Indian War instead.

Causes of the French and Indian War

Territorial Expansion

The French and Indian War had numerous causes, but chief among them was territorial expansion. France and England fought on opposite sides of the War of the Austrian Succession less than a decade earlier. As a result, both were seeking to gain the upper hand over the other. Additionally, both New France and New England were seeking to expand the fur trade, along with other economic opportunities. Both the English and the French laid claim to vast amounts of territory between the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. This vast tract of land was known as the Ohio Country. The English land claims were based on vaguely defined royal land grants and charters, while the French claimed all the land that drained into the Mississippi and based their claim on the explorations of La Salle, who is credited with discovering the mouth of the Mississippi. Both sides used forts, trading posts and the First Nations to secure their land claims.

Religious Ideology

The French and Indian War was also fought over religious ideology. The settlers in the 13 Colonies feared the papal influence present in New France, which was ruled by French governors, Roman Catholic clergy and Jesuit missionaries.

The French and Indian War was the last of four major colonial wars fought in North America between the French and British Empires. Unlike the previous conflicts, however, the French and Indian War eventually spread to Europe, where it became known as the Seven Years War.

Timeline of the French and Indian War

In 1755, British General Edward Braddock, was sent with a force of 2,000 men to take the French position at Fort Duquesne. The expedition ended in failure and Braddock received a fatal wound to the chest. Among Braddock’s officers was then-colonel George Washington, who played a key role in organizing the retreat of Braddock’s remaining forces. Despite this failure, the British took control of Lake George, in addition to capturing Fort Beausejour, which allowed them to take control of Nova Scotia.

1756 and 57 saw a string of French victories in which they secured their hold on Lake Ontario, Lake Champlain and the upper Mohawk River Valley. The French also had significant victories that year at Fort Bull and Fort William Henry. The French successes also led to a shift in British political power, with the appointment of William Pitt as Secretary of State for the Southern Department. Pitt proceeded to implement the plans of his predecessor, Lord Loudon, to secure North America for Britain.

The plan called for three major offensives aimed at capturing the heart of the French colonies. In 1758 Fort Duquesne and the French fortifications at Louisbourg fell to British forces. However, 4,000 French troops were able to fend off an attack by a significantly larger British force in the Battle of Carillon.

The Conquest

The tide of the war continued to turn in favour of the British in 1759, when they captured Carillon, and renamed it Ticonderoga. That same year, General James Wolf laid siege to Quebec City and eventually defeated the Marquis de Montcalm in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, an event often referred to in Quebec as The Conquest.

In September, 1760 an agreement was reached by the Marquis de Vaudreuil-Cavagnal, the Governor of New France, and General Jeffery Amherst. The agreement ensured that the French colonists would be allowed to keep their Roman Catholic faith, while the remaining French troops were loaded onto British ships and sent back to France.

The capitulation of Montreal and Quebec City marked the end of most of the fighting. The French and Indian War was officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1763.

Sources

Anderson, Crucible of War, 747.

Jennings, Empire of Fortune, xv.

The Canadian Encyclopedia: Seven Years’ War

L’Encyclopédie canadienne: Guerre de Sept Ans

Fowler, Empires at War, 14.

Fowler, Empires at War, 31.

Fowler, Empires at War, 35.

Ellis, His Excellency George Washington, 5.

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