French and Indian War
The French and Indian War is the North American portion of the Seven Years' War which took place between 1754 and 1763. The Seven Years' War, called that by historians despite the fact it lasted 9 years, could be considered the first world war, as it spanned every continent except Australia and Antarctica.
Following the start of the war can be confusing. The Seven Years' War started when Austria, one of the major powers in Europe at the time, declared war on Prussia to regain conquered land. Totally unrelated to the Austrian-Prussian conflict, the British and French colonies in North America were at odds over a large piece of land in present-day Pennsylvania which was contested between France and Britain.
The French colonists (Canadians) and the British colonists (Americans) were both building forts in the area, and arguing over the borders. It culminated in a 15-minute battle called the Battle of Jumonville Glen, during which a small force of Americans led by George Washington-then a low-ranking officer-shot and killed several Canadian militia, and took others hostage. They did this without orders from Britain.
France and Britain, the parent countries-who had been rivals for centuries-found out that their colonists were fighting, noted the war between Austria and Prussia in Europe, and decided that this was a good excuse to fight each other. Britain joined the Prussian side, and France the Austrian side. France and Britain supported their colonists with troops and money, and encouraged them to go to all-out war. This North American piece of the war is referred to as French and Indian War.
Both the Americans and Canadians worked with Native American tribes in this war. However, the British colonies had a population of over 2 million Europeans, whereas the French only had 60,000. Because of this, and because France did not send nearly as many troops to the New World as Britain did over the course of the war, Canadians had to rely more heavily on the Native Americans. They recruited warriors from the tribes of Huron, Mississauga, and Winnebago, among others.
The Iroquois, who led a confederation of several tribes, helped the British. But some natives would fight their own, separate, smaller wars against the French and British. For instance, the Cherokee, who had been allies of the British at the start of the war, had a misunderstanding with colonists from Virginia, which lead to the murder of several Natives by Virginians. This resulted in a three-year Anglo-Cherokee War. The Natives were more of a wild card in the French and Indian War.
The initial battles in North America went badly for the British colonists, who launched many failed attacks and were repulsed by the French each time. But the Canadians were not able to push home a victory either. Ultimately, the French strategy of focusing on winning in Europe did not work out.
The British could blockade France with their navy, while sending many supplies to the colonies. The British would go on to win the war completely. The war ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1763, by which point the Americans had captured all of Canada, as well as the disputed land which started the conflict in the first place. In the treaty, France gave Canada up to Britain, as well as several Caribbean Islands, leaving Britain with the biggest colonial empire in North America.
However, the Seven Years' War was incredibly expensive for Britain, doubling their national debt. Seeing as the whole reason Britain went to war against France in the first place was the American colonists' hostilities against the Canadians, Britain increased taxes on the colonies. These tax increases were incredibly unpopular in the colonies, and would ultimately lead to the American Revolution.
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