French and Indian Wars Facts for Kids

  • The French and Indian War was a conflict that lasted from 1754 to 1763.
  • In the New World, it was a three-way conflict between French-allied Indians, British troops, and their colonial settlers.
  • The French and Indian War was the North American part of a bigger war. In Europe, Great Britain and France were enemies and were fighting each other.
  • Great Britain won the war but then people in the colonies started to get unhappy, which led to what is now called the American Revolution.

The French and Indian War was an important conflict in the Second Hundred Years’ War. This was a time when King William’s War, Queen Anne’s war, and King George’s war were happening.

The French and Indian War happened because the people from France and the United Kingdom were fighting over who was going to have control over North America.  

New France

France claimed North America in the past. The French knew that the Spanish had settlements in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Peru. In the 1540s, the French settled to the north of the Spanish.

They did this by following the Doctrine of Discovery. This means that they believed that Europe could claim lands if they were not occupied by Christians. Then French fishermen might have discovered Canada in the year 1504.

By the 18th century, there was a big French colony in America that was called New France. It went from Louisiana through the Mississippi Valley up to Canada. New France lived off agriculture and invested a lot of money in Louisiana’s sugar.

The French strengthened their relationships with lots of Indian societies in America. This made it hard for the British to get allies.

In 1753, the British only controlled the 13 colonies up to the Appalachian Mountains. But the population in the East was increasing and many people wanted lands. The Virginia House of Burgesses gave large pieces of land to private companies like the Ohio Company.

Causes of the War

The English colonists left their homes to go live on the land of Native Americans. They wanted to plant tobacco there. There was a conflict because the Native Americans did not want to stop hunting. The colonists wanted them out of Virginia, so they were angry.

The French and Indian War started when military forces from the two countries built forts in the upper Ohio River valley, which France and Britain both claimed. 

The French wanted to limit the British in their area. So they built forts near the Ohio River, at the end of Lake Erie.

The colony of Virginia also claimed this region. Virginia lieutenant governor Robert Dinwiddie told George Washington to tell the French to leave. The French refused, so the British took over their fort. 

When France’s expansion into the Ohio River valley had many conflicts with British colonies, some battles happened. These led to an official declaration of war by Britain in 1756.

Some other leaders wanted a bigger war. The French government wanted peace. They became more powerful by sending forces to North America and by negotiating with other countries. As soon as the military was on its way, war was unavoidable.

The War Begins

The British Government sent General Braddock to the colonies. He was the commander in chief of the British North American army. The general was not trusted by Indian allies or colonial leaders.

The French won a lot of battles in 1754 and 1755. They defeated a lot of people, including George Washington.

Then Braddock died. He was hurt in an attack on Fort Duquesne. 

The Conflict with the Indians

People in the British colonies were unhappy about how the British government dealt with Indians. This led to some people getting mad and fighting back against the government.

Native people in the continent used to have a strategy. The British and the French colonists used to fight with each other. 

The Native Americans took advantage of this fight so they could decide upon their own lands. Europeans wanted Native Americans to become more dependent on them.

The British government used its power to control trade with Native Americans to force them into selling land and making decisions that the British government wanted. After 1763, Anglo-Indian violence increased because of these problems. This means the British and the Native Americans were having bloodshed, so the latter decided to become friends with the French.

After 1757, the war began to turn in favor of Great Britain. They defeated French troops in India and invaded Canada.

How Canada was Won by the British

The government then expelled hundreds of people from Nova Scotia. The people were afraid they would join the French military and so they made them leave. Some people suffered in cruel ways because they had to leave everything behind.

In July 1758, the British people won a great victory. It was near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. A month later, they took Fort Frontenac at the end of the river.

In 1758, General John Forbes captured Fort Duquesne for the British. The French had abandoned it. The British built Fort Pitt on the site after William Pitt died. The British had a key stronghold because of this.

The British closed in on Quebec and won the Battle of Quebec. In September 1760, the French lost their last bit of land in Canada.

The War Goes Beyond Europe

The British military had trouble because there was fighting between the colonies. France was doing better than Britain in winning support from Indians.

King Charles III of Spain offered to help his cousin, King Louis XV of France. They allied together. Spain would declare war on Great Britain if the war did not end. The British didn’t want Spain to come into the fight.

Despite facing a strong group, the British were successful. They had a strong navy and it led to British success. Britain took over the French Caribbean Islands, Spanish Cuba, and the Philippines.

Then the British said that they would fight against the French who had come to their land. The British named a new commander that changed things around. His name was William Pitt.

William Pitt

William Pitt was the new leader in Great Britain by 1757. He decided to help Prussia against other countries. Then he would help the colonists with money to fight for them against other countries.

Pitt thought if they won battles in North America, then the war in Europe would be a success. France had been fighting the British, so Pitt thought it was a good idea to win over the French not in Europe, but, their American colonies.

Pitt helped make the war effort stronger. He organized military leadership and strengthened the relationship between the Crown’s colonists in America.

The British attacked important places like Ticonderoga, Niagara, and Quebec in 1759. They also took over Montreal in September of 1760. This made the French surrender.

The End of the French and Indian War

Britain defeated France in the French and Indian War. This expelled France was no longer in North America. This means France no longer had colonies there, but only in the Caribbean.

The British Empire won a lot of lands too because of this. Later, the Crown issued new policies about taxation and western expansion. People in the colonies did not like when the Government changed their rules for them.

The Treaty of Paris

Fighting in Europe ended when the Spanish troops tried to invade Portugal because Portugal was an ally to Britain. In 1763, French and Spanish diplomats started to work together to try and make peace. They made the Treaty of Paris. 

In the treaty, Britain got some territory from France and Spain. They got territory from France east of the Mississippi River and Spain in Florida. But they had to give back Cuba to Spain.

Consequences

The geographic shifts caused people to change. Winning all this territory made the British American colonists feel different about their relationship with Great Britain.

On the bad side, the British fought the war but got a lot of debt. The British needed money, so they taxed the American colonies to get it.

The British Empire made parliament taxes. These parliament taxes were called the Stamp Act and the Townshend Acts. They were protested by colonists because they thought these taxes threatened their basic rights and liberties.

Since the war was very expensive, the British government wanted colonists to pay taxes so they would have enough money to cover the expenses. But this made the colonists angry because the British wanted more power in the colonies.

British people tried to limit how far the colonists could expand. This made British subjects in America angry. The disputes led to colonial rebellion. This eventually turned into a war for independence.

Sources

  • https://history.state.gov/milestones/1750-1775/french-indian-war
  • http://www.virginiaplaces.org/military/frenchandindian.html
  • https://www.mountvernon.org/library/digitalhistory/digital-encyclopedia/article/french-and-indian-war/
  • https://www.ushistory.org/declaration/related/frin.html