This History In A Nutshell episode is all about the French and Indian War. Not only did the French and Indian War set the stage for America's independence from Great Britain, it also shaped North America as we know it today! The French and Indian War is considered to be the North American offshoot of the Seven Years War - a much larger conflict happening at the same time. Although the French and Indian War and the Seven Years War officially started in 1756, there were engagements happening in North America years prior.
Learn about how the French and Indian War started, and why both the British and French sought the Ohio Valley region, located beneath the Great Lakes. The British and the French fought for control of the Ohio Valley, and the various Native American tribes residing there were stuck in the middle of the conflict.
Do the names George Washington or Benjamin Franklin ring any bells? Not only are they two of America's most well-known Founding Fathers, but they also played significant roles in the early stages of the French and Indian War!
The French and Indian War may have begun in 1754; however, war between France and Great Britain was not officially declared until 1756, with the start of the Seven Years War. Between 1756-1757, Lieutenant General Louis Joseph de Montcalm's French and Native American forces had a string of victories. Although the Siege at Fort William Henry was a French victory, Montcalm managed to alienate both his Native American allies, and the British, as a result of the Fort William Henry Massacre.
Once William Pitt took over as Britain's new Secretary of State in 1757, the tide turned in favor of the British. Pitt authorized the raising of local militias in the English colonies, and offered the colonials incentives. The last and largest major engagement of the French and Indian War would be the Battle of Quebec in 1759. The British victory at Quebec allowed the English to take control of most of North America.
Battles after 1760 were more sporadic in nature. After the French surrendered Montreal - their last stronghold in North America - the French were out of the fight. Native Americans opposed to British rule still posed a threat to the English colonies, however.
The French and Indian War ended in 1763, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. Great Britain won the war, but was left in massive debt as a result. England's King George III was determined to make the American colonies pay for the war, along with expenses for maintaining the British empire. These abuses of taxation without representation were one of the direct causes for the American colonies to break ties with England.