Chapter 6

The Duel for North America



In the late 1600's and early 1700's, Spain, England, and France fought over territory in North America. The four big wars were: King William's War, Queen Anne's War, King George's War, and the French and Indian War.


France Finds a Foothold in Canada

In 1598, the Edict of Nantes was issued by the crown of France.  It granted limited religious freedom to French Protestants, and stopped religious wars between the Protestants and Catholics.

In 1608, France established Quebec. The leading figure was Samuel de Champlain, an intrepid soldier and explorer whose energy and leadership earned him the title "Father of New France".

The government of New France (Canada) was under direct control of the king.  The people did not elect any representative assemblies.


New France Sets Out

New France contained one valuable resource - beaver

French Catholic missionaries, notably the Jesuits, tried to convert the Indians to Christianity and to save them from the fur trappers.

Antoine Cadillac- founded Detroit in 1701 to thwart English settlers from pushing into the Ohio Valley.

Robert de La Salle- explored the Mississippi and Gulf basin, naming it Louisiana.

In order to block the Spanish at the Gulf of Mexico, the French placed several fortifications in Mississippi and Louisiana.  The French founded New Orleans in 1718.

Illinois became France's garden empire of North America because much grain was produced there.


The Clash of Empires

The early battles between the Europeans for control over North America were mostly between British and French colonists. At this time, neither European power saw North America as a place worth devoting significant military resources. The British colonists referred to these conflicts as King William's War (1689-1697) and Queen Anne's War (1702-1713). The wars ended in 1713 with peace terms signed at Utrecht.  France was terribly beaten in these conflicts, and Britain received French-populated Acadia and Newfoundland and the Hudson Bay.  The British also won limited trading rights in Spanish America.

The War of Jenkins's Ear started in 1739 between the British and Spanish. This small battle became a war and became known as King George's War in America.  It ended in 1748 with a treaty that handed Louisbourg back to France (allied with Spain), enraging the victorious New Englanders.

George Washington Inaugurates War with France

In 1754, George Washington was sent to the Ohio Valley to secure land that had been purchased by some Virginians.  His 150 Virginian militia killed the French leader, causing French reinforcements to come.  The Virginians were forced to surrender on July 4, 1754.

The increase in conflict caused the British in Nova Scotia to worry that the French in Acadia would attack them. So in 1755, the British in Nova Scotia attacked and defeated the French Acadians and scattered them as far as Louisiana.


Global War and Colonial Disunity

The French and Indian War started in 1754. It was the American theater of the Seven Years' War. This war was fought in America, Europe, the West Indies, the Philippines, Africa, and on the ocean.

In Europe, the principal adversaries were Britain and Prussia on one side. France, Spain, Austria, and Russia were on the other side.  The French wasted so many troops in Europe that they were unable to put enough forces into America.

The Albany Congress met in 1754.  Only 7 of 13 colony delegates showed up.  It attempted to unite all of the colonies, but the plan was hated by individual colonists and the London regime. 


Braddock's Blundering and Its Aftermath

General Braddock set out in 1755 with 2,000 men to capture Fort Duquesne.  His force was slaughtered by the much smaller French and Indian army.  (Braddock's Blunder)  Due to this loss of troops, the whole frontier from Pennsylvania to North Carolina was left open to attack. George Washington, with only 300 men, tried to defend the area.

In 1756, the British launched a full-scale invasion of Canada.


Pitt's Palms of Victory

In 1757, William Pitt became a prominent leader in the London government. He started to take control of British military leadership in North America. He attacked and captured Louisbourg in 1758.

To lead the attack in the Battle of Quebec in 1759, Pitt chose James Wolfe.  The French and British armies faced each other on the Plains of Abraham, with the British lead by Wolfe and the French lead by Marquis de Montcalm.

Montreal fell in 1760. The Treaty of Paris (1763) ended the battle and threw the French off the continent of North America. Out of this conflict, the British became the dominant power in North America.


Restless Colonists

Intercolonial disunity had been caused by enormous distances; geographical barriers; conflicting religions, from Catholics to Quakers; varied nationalities, from German to Irish; differing types of colonial governments; many boundary disputes; and the resentment of the crude back-country settlers against the aristocrats.


War's Fateful Aftermath

In 1763, Ottawa chief, Pontiac, led several tribes, aided by a handful of French traders who remained in the region, in a violent campaign to drive the British out of the Ohio country.  His warriors captured Detroit in the spring of that year and overran all but 3 British outposts west of the Appalachians.

The British countered these attacks and eventually defeated the Indians.

London government issued the Proclamation of 1763.  It prohibited settlement in the area beyond the Appalachians.  (The Appalachian land was acquired after the British beat the Indians).  It was made to prevent another bloody eruption between the settlers and Indians.  Many colonists disregarded it.


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