An 18th century conflict that resulted into a full-blown war fought in the Northern American states which we refer to as French-Indian War or the “Seven Years War” was not a moral crusade but merely a struggle for power. For centuries, colonizing powers had sought to prove their authority in a time line of conquests for boundaries and new territories. Soon their eyes were set on “savage” American lands as a new frontier and a fresh battleground for invasion.
The British and French as the dominant colonizing powers of the period felt it better to establish themselves strategically within the Native Americans in order to seek allies and at the same time create internal factions.
Soon a war was fought no longer on American soil but on European, African and Asian seas as well. The outcome of the war actually drew a map for the dispossession of the French in North America while cementing British occupation. Yet the war had unknowingly exposed the weaker side of the victorious British power and their own colonial regime.
Many believed this war lined the way for an initial understanding of Britain’s fragile empire. The events of this war also led to an awareness leading to next century’s historic American Revolution. Virtually, the French Indian War therefore gives us an important insight of political values that has affected the history of the modern world. A comprehension of this conflict will provide us the consequences of the war among its three dominant participants. An Earlier Conflict The causes of the Seven Year’s war were rooted on an earlier conflict and many could recall how it was begun in earnest with the War of Austrian Succession.
This war had been fought during the early 18th century to settle dynastic controversies between the “French ruling house of the Bourbons and the Austrian house of Habsburgs” (Cave, 3). Prior wars and strife fueled the emergence of hostilities between the European powers. The dynastic controversies of the period were likewise material to the development of a large scale war. Treaties and alliances broke off thus “leaving Britain virtually without strong allies” within the European continent (Marston, 2001:8). Nations began fighting in order to prevent the balance of power from tipping in another country’s favor which created a global combat.
The war between Britain and France as the key players soon reached North America two years later, and “fighting had to again operate in the thick forests” (Marston, 2001: 12). Corbett believed however that France’s design for expanding the war was originally set “to divert Britain and allow France the benefit of a direct attack on British soil” (p. 3). It should be remembered that there had been existing tensions running between New England and New France in the North American continent was due in part to original territorial disputes and economic interests.
Flinging additional tensions was like “adding insult to a bleeding injury” and igniting the beginnings of a war, was relatively easy. Religious Expansionism Protestant England harbored fears of the Roman Catholicism’s spread across North America and a possible submission to French dominion. This made Britain decide to subdue France at all costs. The previous three colonial wars like King William’s, King George’s and Succession Wars or Queen Anne’s War had not settled their earlier disputes. Dispute over boundaries continued relentlessly particularly along the Northern states setting the stage for the Seven Year’s War.
In fact, the three wars actually served to fuel the major war events of the Seven Years war as both countries realized what little gains the earlier wars had brought upon them. The century-long atrocities between France and Britain soon took center stage as France used the Natives to strike New England and New York in North America. Eventually, both sides suffered heavy casualties and heavy losses as colonial militia men staged offensive attacks. Dispute over boundaries continued particularly along the Northern states which set the stage for the Seven Year’s War.
The War It should be understood that the war on unfamiliar terrain made invasion much difficult for the British colony. Earlier campaigns by the Spanish missions on the Pacific bank were more successful and easier. Though conflict was limited only to the states within French Canada and the English colonies, the warring parties on both sides of their respective borders created alliances with the colonials and natives and together both parties committed “atrocities in farms and villages and murdered non-combatants on both sides of the border” (Cave, p. 2).
Although the Native Americans heavily outnumbered the French party and their allies, a disinterest in the war resulted to an uncoordinated war effort for both super power nations. Yet years of discontent and anger towards each other made them commit aggressive actions and a chance to “drive English traders from Western Pennsylvania and Ohio Valley and proclaiming France’s ownership over the disputed lands” (Cave, p. 6). The Indian warriors “whom the English call ‘savages’”, accompanied American traders and were killed alongside them or taken prisoners by the French soldiers and their Indian allies (Marston, p. 8).
While the British had an advantage along the seas and coasts, blockades were applied along strategic areas to make it impossible for France to re-supply arms to Canada. Though marked by misjudgments during the early years of war, the British soon found enough footholds in North America. Likewise in the vast regions of inner America, the Native Indians who occupied the territory thrived despite being heavily affected by the invasion of the foreign people into their native lands.
Contact between both parties became erratic and somewhat destructive as Indians believed that Europeans brought them “witchcraft in the form of diseases that ravaged Indian villages” (Cave, 25). It is therefore important to understand that the lure of goods was also a main catalyst for an inner war within North America. In short, the materialistic side of mankind was the cause of ruin as the French tapped their alliance and support knowing how they were outnumbered by British militia. Outcome of the War
The war ended with the carcasses divided among the British, French and Spanish forces. Incidentally, Britain gained dominion over a French–speaking Canadian region. By 1867 at about the same time of the Confederation, Canada was also wracked with “violent activities that worked for the separation of Quebec from Canada” as English and French speaking people became divided by language, religion and economic capabilities (Clift and Arnopoulos, 1984:212) Most Canadians however were eager for independence from Britain and after a century, joined the US in a fight for independence.
The war had also plunged Britain into heavy debts, the monarchy soon imposed heavy taxation to its colonies, including North America to pay off its debts. Taxation did contribute a lot to the initiation of the American Revolution! Conclusion The actual events of the French Indian War actually reshaped American Native history in a number of ways. As a result of the war, France lost most of its major possessions in North America. In the midst of an unprepared encounter fraught with atrocious behaviors, Britain gained French speaking Roman Catholics in Canada and made concessions to them.
Winning the war created new alliances for Britain but heavily drained its economic coffers. With heavy debts, Britain imposed taxation on America which further led and contributed to the reasons behind the American Revolution. It is thus unnerving to observe that such behavior prevalent in the ancient world is still being practiced in form today. However the changes brought about by common reasons behind the war alter the landscape of the next generation. Colonial rivalries which had existed for years had can speak in volumes about the changes the war brought to a native land because of greed and power.
The significance therefore of the French-Indian War lies in the true knowledge of the motives behind every war fought and the particular change it desires to bring in the society where war was waged. Works Cited Cave, Alfred. The French Indian War, 1500-1900. Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2004. Clift, Domininque and McLeod, Sheila. The English Fact in Quebec. Quebec: McGill-Queen’s, 1984. Corbett, Julian S. England in the Seven Years’ War: A Study in Combined Strategy. Adamant Media Corporation, 2001. Marston, Daniel. The French Indian War, 1754-1760. New York: Routledge, 2003.