European Colonization of North America

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Why was France a weaker colonial power than Britain in North America?

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France was never as strong as Great Britain as a colonial presence in North America simply because they had much fewer colonists. The French saw their colonial holdings as a way to access the raw materials of the New World. It was mostly a commercial enterprise. Indeed, the French government did not heavily encourage settlement in the New World. In fact, they prevented certain groups, such as the Huguenots, from settling there altogether.

The British also saw North America as a source of raw materials. However, they also viewed it as a place to expand their population. Very few French would settle in North America by comparison. Most of the French who came to North America came for economic purposes, such as the fur and lumber trade, and few intended to stay permanently. As a result, in the 1750s there were only about 60,000 French colonists in New France compared to more than 2,000,000 English colonists in the 13 Colonies. With such a smaller population, it was difficult for France to compete with Great Britain in the colonies.

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