The answer to this question varies greatly depending on which European power we discuss. The relationship between Great Britain and the colonies changed significantly. Prior to the war, British authorities practiced a rather hands-off approach to governing their North American colonies. As long as the colonists remained loyal and did...
The answer to this question varies greatly depending on which European power we discuss. The relationship between Great Britain and the colonies changed significantly. Prior to the war, British authorities practiced a rather hands-off approach to governing their North American colonies. As long as the colonists remained loyal and did not cause too many problems, the King and Parliament were content to let them do pretty much as they pleased. This is often referred to as a policy known as Salutary Neglect.
After the war, Britain took a more controlling approach. The war had a hefty price-tag for Great Britain, and they felt that the Colonies should help pay for it since it was essentially fought for their protection. This led to the levying of new taxes and the enforcement of commercial regulations. This more heavy-handed approach to governing the colonies would breed the resentment that would eventually lead to the American Revolution.
For France, the change in relations with their North American colonies was starker. They lost them. A condition of the 1763 Treaty of Paris entailed the ceding of all French territory east of the Mississippi River. Many French colonists returned to France. Others left for French-controlled islands in the Caribbean. Some stayed behind and became English subjects.
We must also talk about Spain. Near the end of the war, the Spanish allied themselves with the French. After the war, the Spanish lost dominion over Florida to Great Britain. There were very few Spanish colonists there at the time, and most left when Florida was ceded to the British. Little changed, however, in the Spanish territories west of the Rocky Mountains, as these remained under Spanish control.
In an interesting twist, Spain was given the French territory of Louisiana as a condition of the Treaty of Paris. Upset at the transfer of power to Spain, some of the French colonists left for the Caribbean colonies, yet others stayed to remain under Spanish rule. Some French fur traders remained further inland, particularly in the St. Louis area.
The Spanish made some attempts to establish their own populations in the territory. A meager population of Spaniards settled in New Orleans where they intermarried with the French and Cajuns there. The relationship between the French colonists and Spanish officials was always a tenuous one. In order to appease the French population, the Spanish took a light approach, allowing the continuation of the French language and customs in the territory. They did, however, impose certain trade restrictions that favored Spain. French resentment grew large enough that they drove out the Spanish authorities in October 1768. Faced with open revolt, the Spanish responded in force and violently put down the insurrection.