The French and Indian War (The Seven Years' War)

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What were the causes and effects of the French and Indian War?

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The French and Indian War was the American part of the Seven Years' War between France and Great Britain.

The French and Indian War began over a dispute between the British and the French over which country had rights to the upper parts of the Ohio River Valley. The situation was murky: English settlers were populating the region and claiming the land as their own, but the Native Americans had entered into many treaties ceding rights to the land to the French. To add to the dispute, the British insisted that John Cabot had first explored and claimed the land for Britain while the French said the same of La Salle and France. Clearly, especially given the larger war the British and French were involved in, fighting was going to break out over this contested territory, and it did.

After years of outbreaks of sporadic fighting over the disputed lands, statesman William Pitt realized it was a priority for Britain to win these areas as British American territories. He therefore put resources and his own personal energy into the war effort. While the British were pumping more money into the war, the French had exhausted their funds. The British, therefore, won the French and Indian War, forcing the French out of the disputed territories.

Beyond protecting British holdings on the North American continent, the war had an unexpected consequence. No longer having to fear a powerful rival on their borders, the colonists no longer needed British help or protection. Britain, with its increased taxes on the colonists, meant to pay for the war (the British logically thought that since the Americans were the chief beneficiaries of the victory, they should help bear the cost), became a liability to the Americans. The colonists, now safe from the French, no longer saw any benefit in being a part of the British empire and eventually rebelled. The French and Indian war can therefore be said to have lead to the American Revolution.

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The French and Indian War was part of a larger conflict known as the Seven Years’ War. Britain, Spain, and France were competing for land and power in many places throughout the world, including in North America. The French and Indian War took place in North America involving France and Great Britain. Both the British and the French had claimed land in North America east of the Mississippi River. When the British started to expand westward into territories claimed by France, conflict occurred. The French were trying to protect their land claims, as well as the lucrative fur trade that they had with the Native Americans. Most Native Americans sided with France as they had a better relationship with France than with Great Britain.

The British won the French and Indian War. This had several important impacts in North America. France gave up all of its claims to land in North America. Great Britain controlled the land east of the Mississippi River except for New Orleans. Spain had control of land west of the Mississippi River and also controlled New Orleans. The Native Americans were concerned that the British would try to take away their lands. As a result, there were attacks by some of the Native American tribes against Great Britain and the British colonists. These attacks led to the British issuing the Proclamation of 1763, which prevented the British colonists from settling in the newly gained lands that Great Britain had received from France. This law was the first in a series of actions that angered the colonists, which eventually led to the Declaration of Independence being issued by the colonists in 1776.

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