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.History of American Literature...

Britain Wins A Continent but Stirs up A Revolution

Of the several countries that had looked enviously at the New World, only French and England were left as serious contenders for North America by the late seventeenth century. North America was a new world for England and French. It was advantage after Spains fleet collapsed. Spain had to content herself with what she had in the New World most of South and Central America, Mexico, some of the Caribbean Islands, and a weak hold on what is now Florida and southwestern United States. The struggle in America was only part of a wider conflict later called the Second Hundred Years War. There were many causes for the bitter struggle in Europe besides the contest for colonies and trade.

The Britain colonists felt that the French were walling them up along the Atlantic coast. Britain wanted to expand their power westward. Both France and England had certain advantages. The French had a larger army; the English had a stronger navy. France, an absolute monarchy, could move without taking time for a parliament to debate the issues. Each country had allies who feared the growing strength of the other. French had gained the friendship of many of the Indians the English, on

.History of American Literature...

contrary, had acquired enemies among the tribes. The French populations in North America were almost 80.000.


Whenever there was a war between France and England in Europe, there was war between the two nations in America. Only Queen Annes War had lasting effect upon the fortunes of the two contending countries. By the Treaty of Utrecht, which closed that war, Britain made definite again. The Hudson Bay region, rich in furs; Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, with profitable fishers, were defined as British territory in America. Britain got advantage power in producing areas.

The French and Indian War started in 1754, two years before the outbreak of the war in Europe. It began as a contest for control of the Ohio River valley. The French had been busy building fortifications along the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes, but had neglected to fortify strategic points along the Ohio. French broke the border with England in Ohio. George Washington was sent to Fort Le Boeuf to warn French that they were encroaching upon British territory. The warning was not heeded and the next year, the governor sent Washington back to seize Fort Duquesne then being built by French. Washington and his men were unable to take Fort Duquesne and hold Fort Necessity. So Fort Duquesne still belonged to French and Fort Necessity belonged to England.

.History of American Literature...

When the British government learned of its losses, it sent General Edward Braddock with 1200 European-trained men to take Fort Duquesne. Washington warned Braddock that the Indian allies of the French were dangerous enemies, but Braddock was not alarmed. So they were attacked from three sides by Indians and Frenchmen. Braddock was killed in the war in Duquesne.

The bad beginning made in 1754 and 1755 was followed by other defeats along the frontier. Fort Oswego on Lake Ontario and Fort William Henry on Lake George fell to the French. It looked as if the French were winning the war in America.


William Pitt was of the secretary of State of England. The situation changed for the British when William Pitt the Elder was made secretary of state in 1757. The army and the navy were urged o work together, and Pitt wrote an effective plea to the colonies for their support. More capable military leaders were sent to America, among them James Wolfe. In 1759 Wolfe succeeded in taking his men up the St. Lawrence and landing them on the shores at the foot of the cliffs of Quebec.

French commander, Marquis de Montcalm, was defeated in the Plains of Abraham behind the city. Both Montcalm and Wolfe were killed in the battle. This was the deceive battle of the war, although Ticonderoga and

.History of American Literature...

Crown Point were also taken that year, and the next year Montreal fell to the British.

In 1763, French signed the Treaty of Paris. To the British France ceded Canada and all her territory east of the Mississippi, except New Orleans. Britain received French sugar islands in the Caribbean. Spain, Frances ally, gave Florida to Britain, while France ceded to Spain her lands west of Mississippi. Britain also became the dominant force in India. So England dominated the North America.


Great Britain came out of the Seven Years War, as the conflict was called in Europe, with heightened prestige, additional colonies, and increased military power. With all of the power and prestige, however, came greater problems than Britain had ever been called upon to face. There were some problems that Britain had: Britain had a vast empire of many nationalities to administer. In Canada there were thousands of French-speaking Roman Catholic. Much of America was still inhabited by wandering Indian tribes, many whom had long been Britains enemies. India, with her millions of people, whose religions and ways of living were foreign to Englishmen, was a tremendous challenge.

.History of American Literature...

Besides these problems, the war had cost Britain a vast sum. Her debt was one hundred thirty million pounds. British taxes were already heavy.

Some people in Britain felt that the colonists successes in the war had brought them confidence in their own abilities. Those Englishmen argued that Canada should be returned to France, for a French threat to colonies would make the colonists appreciate British protection. British politicians, however, decided to keep Canada.

There were other Americans who believed that Parliament was restricted in its acts by the principles of common law. Among these was James Otis, a lawyer from Massachusetts. He used that argument in protesting against the writs of assistance, or general search warrants, that Parliament had ordered used in America.