The French and Indian Wars is a name used in the United States for a series of conflicts lasting 74 years in North America that represented colonial events related to the European dynastic wars. The title, French and Indian War, is used in the US specifically for the warfare of 1754-1763, the colonial counterpart to the Seven Years War in Europe.
In Quebec, Canada, a former French colony, the wars are generally referred to as the Intercolonial Wars. While some conflicts involved Spanish and Dutch forces, all pitted the Kingdom of Great Britain, its colonies and American Indian allies on one side against France, its colonies and Indian allies on the other.
The expanding French and British colonies were contending for control of the western, or interior, territories of North America. Whenever the European countries went to war, military conflict also occurred in North America in their colonies, although the dates of the conflicts did not necessarily exactly coincide with those of the larger conflicts.
The North American wars, and their associated European wars, in sequence, are:
King William's War
1st Intercolonial War (in Quebec)
Queen Anne's War
2nd Intercolonial War
King George's War
3rd Intercolonial War
War of Jenkins' Ear
The French and Indian War
4th Intercolonial War
The naming of conflicts after the British monarch of the day is a convention in United States history related to its early European settlement as majority-English colonies. Canadian convention uses the name of the larger European conflict (e.g. the "War of the Grand Alliance" rather than "King William's War") or refers to the wars as the Intercolonial Wars.
As the wars proceeded, the military advantage moved toward the British side. This was chiefly the result of the greater population and productive capacity of the British colonies, compared with those of France. In addition, the British had the greater ability to resupply their colonies and project military power by sea. In the first three conflicts, the French were able to offset these factors largely by more effective mobilization of Native American allies, but they were finally overwhelmed in the fourth and last war.
The overwhelming victory of the British played a role in eventual loss of their thirteen American colonies. Without the threat of French invasion, the American colonies saw little need for British military protection. In addition, the people resented British efforts to limit their colonization of the new French territories to the west of the Appalachian Mountains, as stated in the Proclamation of 1763, in an effort to relieve encroachment on Native American territory. These pressures contributed to the American Revolutionary War.
The first three of the French and Indian Wars followed the same basic pattern: they all started in Europe and then moved to North America. Once the conflict broke out in North America, it was mostly fought by colonial militias. The final conflict broke this pattern by beginning in North America. In addition, the British used more regular troops alongside colonial militia. They returned almost none of the French territory seized during the war. France was forced to cede its extensive territory in present-day Canada and Louisiane. The British victory in the French and Indian Wars reduced France's New World empire to St. Pierre and Miquelon, a small island fishing colony off Newfoundland; a few West Indian islands; and French Guiana.
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