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

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What are the three main reasons the French and Indian War started?

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The French and Indian War, or Seven Years' War, seems inevitable when we look at the big picture. It was the culmination of a series of violent conflicts between the French and English that had been occurring on and off for generations over hegemony in North America.

One reason for this war was economics. North America was full of riches. Furs from the interior, cod from the offshore fishing grounds, and sugar from the Carribean Islands were making both imperial powers immensely wealthy. However, if one could force the other out of the region, they would have a potential monopoly over these resources.

The French and British also had made numerous alliances with various native groups. These different tribes did not always get along with each other either. A complicated and entangling system of alliances frequently brought allies of the two empires into conflict with each other. This made the situation in North America very unstable and was a factor that led to the outbreak of conflict.

Another main reason for the conflict was a disagreement over who could lay claim to the Ohio territory. Most British settlements were east of the Appalachian Mountains and the French were mostly along (and north of) the St. Lawerence River. Few Europeans had made significant incursions into the Ohio River Valley, yet both Empires arbitrarily laid claim to it. Such a situation was untenable, and when the French military moved in to make a real claim to the land, the British were forced to respond in kind.

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Both Britain and France wanted to corner the market on the lucrative North American fur trade. American settlers began to move west of the Appalachian Mountains in order to look for farmland, and they ran against French traders from Quebec who were in the area gathering furs. Ultimately it was an attack led by George Washington in the disputed territory that started the war in North America. 

Both sides saw this war as a way to determine control of North America once and for all. The region was doubly important as both Britain and France considered the possibility of using it as a supply point for its lucrative sugar trade in the Caribbean. While furs were valuable, the value of sugar from the Caribbean was worth more than all the other raw materials combined in the English colonies.  

Britain and France had fought periodically for over one hundred years before the French and Indian War—this war can be seen as a continuance of those wars. Another thing that led to the tension that created this war was British expansionism during this period into Asian markets, such as India. France did not want to lose power by being locked out of these markets.  

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The French and Indian War was fought between the two greatest powers on earth.  The British and French had been rivals for a very long time in Europe.  By 1754, the rivalry had followed them to North America.

The French had long enjoyed a very profitable business with the fur trade.  The French had settled in the Ohio River valley, while the British were on the Atlantic coast.  British colonists had moved into the Ohio River valley by 1754 and began competing with the French in the fur trade. 

Not only were the French and British competing for dominance in Europe and in North America, they were also competing for trade in other parts of the world like Asia. 

These are the causes of the French and Indian War. 

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The French and Indian War (1754-1763) should be thought of as part of a worldwide struggle between the British and French.  That conflict is better known as the Seven Years War.

The main cause of the French and Indian War is the superpower competition between Britain and France.  These two countries were the most powerful in the world and competed for dominance around the globe.

Within this overall cause, there were reasons specific to North America that helped cause the war.

1. The desire on the part of both countries to control the lucrative North American fur trade.

2. The fact that the expansion of the British colonies in North America were threatening French territory and their trade routes.

These three factors (which can be seen as two subfactors of a main cause) were instrumental in causing the French and Indian War.

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