Discuss the similarities and differences in the way the British and French empires administered their colonies before 1763.

Expert Answers

Want to remove ads?

Get ad-free questions with an eNotes 48-hour free trial.

Try It Free No Thanks
academe23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Depending on where they were located, there were similarities and differences between the French and British colonies up until the mid-eighteenth century.

The similarities could be seen in French and British colonial interests in India. Both nations handed over colonial development in India to corporations. There were both French and British East India companies, and both organizations functioned relatively free of direct state control. These colonies were essentially corporations, administered only loosely by their respective national governments.

Differences in French and British approaches to colonization were stark in North America. In this context, one sees important contrasts. The colony of New France was heavily influenced by state involvement, and colonization was pushed by the French crown. The success of the colony was a matter of national pride. These colonies were also motivated by a missionary impulse and saw major involvement on the part of the Catholic Church.

In contrast, the British colonies in North America were largely settled by those who were fleeing state influence, often for religious reasons. These dissenters, like the Pilgrims who settled the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1620, were motivated by a desire for independence and a separation from the British crown right from the beginning.

As a result of conflicts in the mid-eighteenth century between the French and British, especially in the Seven Years' War (1756–1763), the French actually lost control of most of their colonial holdings in North America and the East.

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were many differences in how the French and the British administered their colonies before 1763. Both countries had colonies in North America, but there were significant differences between them.

The British established thirteen permanent colonies in North America. The French, on the other hand, had few permanent settlements. In the British colonies, people were able to own land. In the French colonies, only the nobles were able to own land. While both countries had dealings with the Native Americans, the French were much more friendly with them. They married Native American women, converted them to Christianity, and traded with them. Most Native American tribes were more comfortable with the French. There were differences in religious practices also. The French only allowed Catholics to settle in their colonies. There was more religious freedom in the British colonies. Because of these differences, the British colonies grew faster than the French colonies. There also was more self-government in the British colonies. The colonies had their own legislatures. In the French colonies, self-government did not exist.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Before 1763, the French mainly founded trading posts in the New World. These posts were involved in trading for fur and other materials with the Native Americans, and French settlers often lived in close proximity to Native Americans and intermarried with them. The French government did not allow their colonies to set up their own governments, and the colonies were administered directly by the French crown.

The British colonies, on the other hand, were populated by settlers who set up their own forms of self-government and representative assemblies such as the House of Burgesses, established in Virginia in 1619. Colonists were also allowed to tax themselves. This degree of self-government meant that the British colonies were loathe to give up their independence in the years after 1763, when the British government ended years of "salutary neglect" and attempted to administer their colonies more directly and to enforce the Navigation Acts.