French and Indian Wars

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French and Indian Wars,

1689–1763, the name given by American historians to the North American colonial wars between Great Britain and France in the late 17th and the 18th cent. They were really campaigns in the worldwide struggle for empire and were roughly linked to wars of the European coalitions. At the time they were viewed in Europe as only an unimportant aspect of the struggle, and, although the stakes were Canada, the American West, and the West Indies, the fortunes of war in Europe had more effect in determining the winner than the fighting in the disputed territory itself.

To the settlers in America, however, the rivalry of the two powers was of immediate concern, for the fighting meant not only raids by the French or the British but also the horrors of tribal border warfare. The conflict may be looked on, from the American viewpoint, as a single war with interruptions. The ultimate aim—domination of the eastern part of the continent—was the same; and the methods—capture of the seaboard strongholds and the little Western forts and attacks on frontier settlements—were the same.

The wars helped to bring about important changes in the British colonies. In addition to the fact of their ocean-wide distance from the mother country, the colonies felt themselves less dependent militarily on the British by the end of the wars; they became most concerned with their own problems and put greater value on their own institutions. In other words, they began to think of themselves as American rather than British.

King William's War

The first of the wars, King William's War (1689–97), approximately corresponds to the European War of the Grand AllianceGrand Alliance, War of the,
1688–97, war between France and a coalition of European powers, known as the League of Augsburg (and, after 1689, as the Grand Alliance).
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 (1688–97). It was marked in America principally by frontier attacks on the British colonies and by the taking of Port Royal (now Annapolis Royal, N.S.) by British colonial forces under Sir William PhipsPhips, Sir William,
1651–95, American colonial governor. Born in what is today Maine, he was a carpenter and shipbuilder in Boston and became interested in sunken treasure.
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 in 1690. (The French recaptured it the next year.) The British were unable to take Quebec, and the French commander, the comte de Frontenac, attacked the British coast. The peace that followed the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697 was short-lived, and shortly the colonies were plunged into war again.

Queen Anne's War

Queen Anne's War (1702–13) corresponds to the War of the Spanish SuccessionSpanish Succession, War of the,
1701–14, last of the general European wars caused by the efforts of King Louis XIV to extend French power. The conflict in America corresponding to the period of the War of the Spanish Succession was known as Queen Anne's War (see French and
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. The frontier was again the scene of many bloody battles; the French and Native American raid (1704) on Deerfield, Mass., was especially notable. Another British attempt to take Quebec, this time by naval attack, failed. Port Royal, and with it AcadiaAcadia
, Fr. Acadie, region and former French colony, E Canada, encompassing modern Nova Scotia but also New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and coastal areas of E Maine. After an abortive 1604 settlement of St.
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, fell (1710) to an expedition under Francis Nicholson and was confirmed to the British in the Peace of Utrecht, as were Newfoundland and the fur-trading posts about Hudson Bay.

King George's War

Hostilities lapsed for years until trouble between England and Spain led to the so-called War of Jenkins's EarJenkins's Ear, War of,
1739–41, struggle between England and Spain. It grew out of the commercial rivalry of the two powers and led to involvement in the larger War of the Austrian Succession.
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 (1739–41), which merged into the War of the Austrian SuccessionAustrian Succession, War of the,
1740–48, general European war. Causes of the War

The war broke out when, on the strength of the pragmatic sanction of 1713, the Austrian archduchess Maria Theresa succeeded her father, Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, as ruler
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 (1740–48). The American phase, King George's War, did not begin until 1744, when the French made an unsuccessful assault on Port Royal. The next year, a Massachusetts-planned expedition under William PepperrellPepperrell, Sir William,
1696–1759, American colonial military commander, b. Kittery Point, Maine (then part of Massachusetts). A wealthy merchant, landowner, and businessman, he became a colonel in the colonial militia, was a delegate to the Massachusetts General Court
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 with a British fleet under Sir Peter Warren took LouisburgLouisburg
, town (1991 pop. 1,261), E Cape Breton Island, N.S., Canada. The town, an ice-free port, is near the site of the great fortress of Louisbourg, built (1720–40) by France as its Gibraltar in America.
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. Border warfare was severe but not conclusive. The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) returned Louisburg to France, but the hostile feelings that had been aroused did not die.

The French and Indian War

Rivalry for the West, particularly for the valley of the upper Ohio, prepared the way for another war. In 1748 a group of Virginians interested in Western lands formed the Ohio CompanyOhio Company,
organization formed (1747) to extend settlements of Virginia westward. The members were mostly Virginia planters interested in land speculation and the fur trade.
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, and at the same time the French were investigating possibilities of occupying the upper Ohio region. The French were first to act, moving S from Canada and founding two forts. Robert DinwiddieDinwiddie, Robert,
1693–1770, colonial governor of Virginia (1751–58), b. near Glasgow, Scotland. He was collector of customs (1727–38) for Bermuda and surveyor general (1738–51) for the Bahamas, Jamaica, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and the
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, governor of Virginia, sent an emissary, young George WashingtonWashington, George,
1732–99, 1st President of the United States (1789–97), commander in chief of the Continental army in the American Revolution, called the Father of His Country. Early Life

He was born on Feb. 22, 1732 (Feb. 11, 1731, O.S.
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, to protest.

The contest between the Ohio Company and the French was now joined and hinged on possession of the spot where the Monongahela and the Allegheny join to form the Ohio (the site of Pittsburgh). The English started a fort there but were expelled by the French, who built Fort DuquesneFort Duquesne
, at the junction of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers, on the site of Pittsburgh, SW Pa. Because of its strategic location, it was a major objective in the last of the French and Indian Wars.
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 in 1754. Dinwiddie, after attempting to get aid from the other colonies, sent out an expedition under Washington. He defeated a small force of French and Native Americans but had to withdraw and, building Fort NecessityFort Necessity,
entrenched camp built in July, 1754, by George Washington and his Virginia militia at Great Meadows (near the present Uniontown, Pa.). He retired there when he learned that the British fort at the forks of the Ohio (the site of Pittsburgh) had been captured (and
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, held his ground until forced to surrender (July, 1754). The British colonies, alarmed by French activities at their back door, attempted to coordinate their activities in the Albany CongressAlbany Congress,
1754, meeting at Albany, N.Y., of commissioners representing seven British colonies in North America to treat with the Iroquois, chiefly because war with France impended.
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. War had thus broken out before fighting began in Europe in the Seven Years WarSeven Years War,
1756–63, worldwide war fought in Europe, North America, and India between France, Austria, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and (after 1762) Spain on the one side and Prussia, Great Britain, and Hanover on the other.
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The American conflict, the last and by far the most important of the series, is usually called simply the French and Indian War. The British undertook to capture the French forts in the West—not only Duquesne, but also Fort Frontenac (see KingstonKingston,
city (1991 pop. 56,597), S Ont., Canada, on Lake Ontario, near the head of the St. Lawrence River and at the end of Rideau Canal from Ottawa. Kingston has probably the best harbor on the lake.
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, Ont., Canada), Fort NiagaraFort Niagara,
post on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, at the mouth of the Niagara River, NW N.Y. It was strategically located on the water route to the fur lands. French explorer Robert LaSalle erected a blockhouse on the river in 1679; in 1726 a stone fort overlooking the
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, and the posts at TiconderogaTiconderoga
, resort village (1990 pop. 2,770), Essex co., NE N.Y., on a neck of land between lakes George and Champlain; settled in the 17th cent., inc. 1889. At Ticonderoga and nearby Crown Point, several battles in the French and Indian Wars took place.
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 and Crown PointCrown Point,
town (1990 pop. 1,963), Essex co., NE N.Y., on Lake Champlain. Crown Point is a summer resort on a historic site. A bridge there crosses the lake to Addison, Vt. The French began building Fort St. Frédéric in 1731.
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. They also set out to take Louisburg and the French cities on the St. Lawrence, Quebec and Montreal. They at first failed in their attempts. The expedition led by Edward BraddockBraddock, Edward,
1695–1755, British general in the French and Indian War (see under French and Indian Wars). Although he had seen little active campaigning before 1754, Braddock was reputed to have a good knowledge of European military tactics and was noted as a stern
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 against Duquesne in 1755 was a costly fiasco, and the attempt by Admiral Boscawen to blockade Canada and the first expeditions against Niagara and Crown Point were fruitless.

After 1757, when the British ministry of the elder William Pitt was reconstituted, Pitt was able to supervise the war in America. Affairs then took a better turn for the British. Lord AmherstAmherst, Jeffery Amherst, Baron
, 1717–97, British army officer. He served in the War of the Austrian Succession and in the early part of the Seven Years War. In 1758 he was sent to America as a major general to lead the Louisburg campaign in the last of the French and
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 in 1758 took Louisburg, where James WolfeWolfe, James,
1727–59, British soldier. After a distinguished record in European campaigns, he was made (1758) second in command to Jeffery Amherst in the last of the French and Indian Wars.
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 distinguished himself. That same year Gen. John ForbesForbes, John,
1710–59, British general in the French and Indian Wars, b. Scotland. He entered the British army in 1735, won distinction and promotion in the War of the Austrian Succession, and in 1757 was made a colonel and was sent to reinforce the expedition against
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 took Fort Duquesne (which became Fort Pitt).

The French Louis Joseph de MontcalmMontcalm, Louis Joseph de
, 1712–59, French general. His name in fuller form was Louis Joseph de Montcalm-Gozon, marquis de Saint-Véran. A veteran of the War of the Polish Succession and the War of the Austrian Succession, he was sent (1756) to defend Canada in the
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, one of the great commanders of his time, distinguished himself (1758) by repulsing the attack of James AbercrombyAbercromby, James,
1706–81, British general in the French and Indian Wars, b. Scotland. He arrived in America in 1756 and in 1758 replaced the earl of Loudoun as supreme British commander.
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 on Ticonderoga. The next year that fort fell to Amherst. In the West, the hold of Sir William JohnsonJohnson, Sir William,
1715–74, British colonial leader in America, b. Co. Meath, Ireland. He settled (1738) in the Mohawk valley, became a merchant, and gained great power among the Mohawk and other Iroquois. He acquired large landed properties, founded (1762) Johnstown, N.
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 over the Iroquois and the activities of border troops under his general command—most spectacular, perhaps, were the exploits of the rangers under Robert RogersRogers, Robert,
1731–95, American frontiersman, b. Methuen, Mass. As a child he moved with his family to the New Hampshire frontier. In King George's War (1744–48) he served briefly as a scout.
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—reduced French holdings and influence.

The war became a fight for the St. Lawrence, with Montcalm pitted against the brilliant Wolfe. The climax came in 1759 in the open battle on the Plains of Abraham (see Abraham, Plains ofAbraham, Plains of,
fairly level field adjoining the upper part of the city of Quebec, Canada. There, in 1759, the English under Gen. James Wolfe defeated the French under Gen. Louis Montcalm.
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). Both Wolfe and Montcalm were killed, but Quebec fell to the British. In 1760, Montreal also fell, and the war was over. The Treaty of Paris in 1763 (see Paris, Treaty ofParis, Treaty of,
any of several important treaties, signed at or near Paris, France. The Treaty of 1763

The Treaty of Paris of Feb. 10, 1763, was signed by Great Britain, France, and Spain.
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) ended French control of Canada, which went to Great Britain.


The classic works in English on the conflict are those of Francis ParkmanParkman, Francis,
1823–93, American historian, b. Boston. In 1846, Parkman started a journey along the Oregon Trail to improve his health and study the Native Americans. On his return to Boston he collapsed physically and moved to Brattleboro, Vt.
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. See also W. Wood, The Passing of New France (1915); G. M. Wrong, The Conquest of New France (1918); L. H. Gipson, The British Empire before the American Revolution, Vol. IV–VIII (with individual titles, 1939–53); B. Connell, The Savage Years (1959); E. P. Hamilton, The French and Indian Wars (1962); H. Bird, Battle for a Continent (1965); G. Fregault, Canada: The War of the Conquest (1955, tr. 1969); F. Anderson, Crucible of War (2000); F. Anderson, The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War (2005).

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