The French Indian War
The French Indian War
The French & Indian War, 1754-1763, changed the political, economic, and ideological relationship between Great Britain and the American Colonies permanently. The war resulted in three major changes, the Colonists beginning to reject British rule, refusing to pay taxes, and the loyalties toward the mother country beginning to break. These changes in the relationship of the Colonies and Britain were such a huge deal that, when combined, they led up to the American Revolution.
The Colonists rejected British rule in three ways; the first way was the protest against British troops in the Colonies. When the French & Indian War ended in 1763, Great Britain was in major debt, one hundred and forty million pounds worth; to try and pay for this debt Parliament decided to implement a small tax in the North American Colonies, as half that debt was acquired paying to protect the Colonies, and Parliament felt it only fair that the Americans shouldered one third of the bill. Even though the tax was thirty times less than the tax paid in Great Britain, Americans were outraged. This outrage led to a, sometimes violent, protest against the taxes from Great Britain; the Sons of Liberty were a group that allegedly tarred and feathered the government officials that were going to enforce the Stamp Act. The Colonist’s reaction is clearly shown in Benjamin Franklin’s letter to John Hughs, from London to Pennsylvania, August 9th, 1765. In this letter, Benjamin Franklin says, “As to the Stamp Act, tho we purpose [propose] doing our Endeavor to get it repeal’d in which I am sure you would conquer with us, yet the Success is uncertain.
If it continues, your undertaking to execute it may make you unpopular for a Time…” The second way that the Colonists ignored British rule had nothing to do with taxes. The Proclamation of 1763 prohibited the American Colonists from settling west of the Appalachian Mountains, or it tried to. In a speech from Canassatego, Chief of the Onondaga Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy to the representatives of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, Canassatego says, “We know our lands are becoming more valuable…Your People daily settle on these Lands, and spoil our Hunting. We must insist on your Removing them…” The Colonists were settling over the Appalachians despite Britain’s law.
The Proclamation of 1763 was not only to keep good relations with the Native Americans as was the official reason for passing it, as a matter of fact the British did not want the Colonists to move west and procreate unchecked. The British thought that if the Americans got a bigger population than it would throw more fuel into the fire of rebellion. The third and final reason that the American Colonists began to reject English rule was because the French no longer occupied any land in North America, as seen in a comparison of maps of North America before 1754 and North America after 1763. There was no threat from the French anymore and the Americans felt that since they no longer needed protecting, the presence of the English army in the Colonies was unnecessary. Overall, American Colonists just did not see the need for the British to rule them.
The economy of both Great Britain and the American Colonies majorly played into their relationship after the French & Indian War. Conflict ensued when the Colonists were expected to pay taxes for their portion of the debt from the French & Indian War; the Colonists began to protest. However silly the Colonists seemed to protest such a small tax, they were not completely crazy for throwing a tantrum, while the British were taxing them they also were impeding on the Colonist’s trade. The English were saturated with American goods, they could not buy any more American products and instead of trying to solve the problem by allowing the initiation of trade with other countries to replace the income the Colonists normally received from Britain, Britain refused to allow the Colonies to trade with anyone but them. Great Britain only allowed trade with other countries through them, the Colonist’s ships had to pass through London and give a sizeable cut of their profit to the British merchants.
The economic status of the time was best expressed through the eyes of the Colonists in a Pennsylvania Journal masthead in October 1765, which said “The times are dreadful, doleful, dismal, dolorus, and dollar-less.” The British economy was in a similar state, as well as being millions in debt and paying much higher taxes than in the colonies, the Colonists began to boycott English goods and refused to pay taxes in protest of the Stamp Act. In a British Order in Council in 1763, the British confronted the Colonists on their smuggling, they said, “…having taken into consideration the present state of the duties of the customs imposed on your majesty’s subjects in America and the West indies, we find that the revenue arising therefrom is very small and inconsiderable …. And is not yet sufficient to defray a fourth part of the expense necessary for collecting it…” Also contributing to the economic problems of America, were the Native Americans wanting more for their land, and the problem for Great Britain was that the Stamp Act was getting repealed, taking away the income from that tax. All these factors contributed to economic stress on both sides
After the French & Indian War, the Colonists loyalties to Great Britain began to break; this is because the Colonists began to feel like their “Rights as Englishmen” were being threatened. All the actions of the Colonists pointed out in this essay previous to this point have emphasized that the American Colonists did not like to be controlled by Great Britain; part of the reason they did not like their relationship with Britain was based on personal experience with their fellow Englishmen. In a Massachusetts soldier’s diary from 1759, one can see how the British treated the Americans. “[30 September 1759] Cold weather. [We] hear a great talk of things uncertain and thus time spends away and so we spend our day. . . Cold weather is coming on apace, which will make us look round about us and put [on] our winter clothing, and we shall stand in need of good liquors for to keep our spirits on cold winter’s days.
And we, being here within stone walls, are not likely to get liquors or clothes at this time of the year; and although we be Englishmen born, we are debarred Englishmen’s liberty. Therefore we now see what it is to be under martial law and to be with the regulars who are but little better than slaves to their officers. And when I get out of their [power] I shall take care of how I get in again. . .” As seen in this diary, the American soldiers are “…but little better than slaves…” This was a crime to the Colonists. Throughout all the protests and the separation of Great Britain and the Colonies, Britain still had its supporters. Right after the war ended in 1763, Rev.
Thomas Barnard from Massachusetts praised Britain, “Auspicious Day! when Britain, the special Care of Heaven, blessed with a patriot-Sovereign, served by wise and faithful Councellors, brave Commanders, successful Fleets and Armies…” but, even as the Reverend praised Great Britain for their support in the war, he simultaneously told the people “Now commences the Era of our quiet Enjoyment of those Liberties which our Fathers purchased with the Toil of their whole Lives, their Treasure, their Blood…” this just points out how the Americans “Rights as Englishmen” were extremely valued and expected.
The Colonists expected their Liberty; it was a fundamental human right. So when their rights were “threatened”, the Colonists protested vigorously. On the Pennsylvania Journal masthead from October 1765, “Adieu Adieu to LIBERTY” is printed on the side. The threat of the loss of their rights was the most important cause for a change in the relationship between the American Colonies and Great Britain.
Put all the pieces together and it is obvious that the French & Indian War was the main cause of the change in relationship between Great Britain and Her colonies. The war created the need for the taxation of the Colonies, the Americans began to resent Britain for taxing them to pay for the war that was fought to protect the Colonies, the Americans refused to pay the taxes and follow the laws, this caused economic problems in both places. The taxes were also thought to be theft because they were taxed without representation in Parliament. This theft violated the Colonist’s rights as Englishmen. In the end, the taxes that were needed to pay for the French & Indian War were the root of all the problems between Great Britain and the American Colonies.