Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Wars To Take Acadia - Part II

The Wars including the French & Indian War

I. The French and Indian War (1754-1763) was the last of four North American wars waged from 1689 to 1763 between the British and the French.

In these struggles, each country fought for control of the continent with the assistance of Native American and colonial allies. The French and Indian War differed from previous confrontations, however. The earlier wars consisted primarily of skirmishes between small regular units of the European powers aided by local militiamen. The French and Indian War was part of a great war for empire, a determined and eventually successful attempt by the British to attain a dominant position in North America, the West Indies, and the subcontinent of India.

Although the French and Indian War began in America, it expanded into Europe as the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), and at the same time into Asia as the Third Carnatic War (see Carnatic Wars). The French and Indian War not only stripped France of its North American empire, it also caused Britain to change its relationship to its colonies, a change that eventually led to the American Revolution.

II. By the end of the 17th century, the British had established flourishing colonial settlements along the Atlantic Coast in New England and in the Chesapeake Bay region. At the same time, France had founded small communities along the Saint Lawrence River and had claimed the entire Mississippi River Valley, following the expeditions of French explorers Louis Jolliet and René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle. These North American colonies became part of an intense rivalry between Great Britain and France.

Each country tried to equal or surpass the economic, political, and military power of the other through colonization, alliances, and warfare.

Beginning in 1689, Britain fought a century-long series of wars with France and its ally, Spain. On three occasions prior to the French and Indian War, these hostilities spilled over into the western hemisphere where overseas colonies could provide important advantages.

Britain and France competed to control the valuable fur trade on the North American mainland and the rich sugar production on the islands of the West Indies. Both nations received military assistance from colonists in these wars, but also relied on the help of Native American peoples who participated because of their own rivalries for land and power.

The first of these conflicts was King William's War (1689-1697), known in Europe as the War of the League of Augsburg. In North America, this war consisted of a number of skirmishes that produced no changes in territory. The New England militia and their Native American allies, the Iroquois, fought against French troops and their Algonquian Native American allies on the northern frontier in the American colonies and in Canada.

The New Englanders captured Port Royal, the capital of French Acadia (now the portion of Canada that includes Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island), but the Peace of Ryswick (1697) that ended the war in Europe also returned Acadia to France.

The next conflict was Queen Anne's War (1702-1713), known in Europe as the War of the Spanish Succession. During this war, the French and British again fought battles along the New England frontier. However, the northern region of New York remained quiet because the Iroquois adopted a policy of aggressive neutrality, selling furs to both the French and the English but refusing to fight for either side.

The major battle was a British and colonial attempt to capture Québec in 1710. Although the expedition failed, Britain used victories in Europe to gain significant additional territory in the Peace of Utrecht (1713-1714). From France, Britain obtained Newfoundland, Acadia, the Hudson Bay region of northern Canada, and greater access to the Native American fur trade. From Spain, France's ally, Britain acquired the Mediterranean fortress of Gibraltar and trading privileges in Spanish America. These gains enhanced Britain's commercial supremacy and gave it extensive territories in North America.

A new conflict, King George's War (1744-1748), began outside of North America in 1739 when Spain tried to halt commerce between its North American colonies and Britain. This trade war became part of a general European conflict, the War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748).

In 1745 New England militiamen captured the French naval fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island (near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River), but the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) returned the fortress to France.

© Lucie LeBlanc Consentino
Acadian & French Canadian Ancestral Home
1998 - Present

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