The French and English in North America: A History of Conflict
The political and social conflicts between the French and the English have a long history dating back to the 16th century when the two powers first came into contact with each other in the New World. The causes of conflict between the two powers emanated from competition for the fur trade, religious differences, resistance by the French to be assimilated to the British customs, etc. The conflicts between the French and the English culminated in a series of wars which had a profound effect on the development of both Canada and the United States.
2. The French and the English in the New World
The first European power to establish a presence in North America was France. In 1608, French explorer Samuel de Champlain founded the settlement of Quebec on the St. Lawrence River. This settlement became the capital of New France, an area which included parts of present-day Canada and the United States. The French established a number of other settlements in North America, including Montreal, Detroit, and New Orleans. The fur trade was an important economic activity for the French in North America. The French also had good relations with many of the Native American tribes and were able to use them as allies against the British.
The English were latecomers to North America, establishing their first permanent settlement at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. The English colony of Massachusetts was founded in 1620. The English colonies in North America were part of the British Empire and they were governed by royal charter. The English colonies rapidly expanded in population and territory. By 1775, there were more than 2 million English colonists in North America compared to only 60,000 French colonists.
3. The French-Indian War
The French-Indian War (1754-1763) was fought between France and England for control of North America. The war began with a dispute over territory in present-day Ohio between the French and British colonies. The French had built a number of forts in this area which they used to control access to the Ohio River valley which was rich in fur resources. The British colonies wanted to gain access to this area but they were opposed by the French who saw it as their territory.
In 1754, hostilities broke out between colonial militia from Virginia and a group of French soldiers and their Native American allies near present-day Pittsburgh. This incident is known as “the shot heard round the world” because it marked the start of open hostilities between France and England which soon escalated into a global war.
The war was fought primarily in North America but it also spread to Europe where it became known as the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763). In North America, it was fought between France and England as well as their respective Native American allies. The war ended with a victory for England who gained control of all of France’s territories in North America east of the Mississippi River except for Louisiana which was ceded to Spain.
4. The American Revolution
The American Revolution (1775-1783) was fought by thirteen British colonies in North America who declared themselves independent states and formed a new country called the United States of America. The colonists were opposed to British rule for a variety of reasons such as taxes, restrictions on trade, etc.
Many of the colonists had come from England and they were accustomed to a certain amount of freedom and self-government. The British government attempted to tighten its control over the colonies after the French-Indian War in order to prevent them from becoming too powerful. This led to increased tensions between the colonists and the British government which culminated in the outbreak of the American Revolution.
The war was fought primarily in the northern colonies but it also spread to the southern colonies and to Europe where it became known as the American War of Independence (1775-1783). In North America, it was fought between the thirteen colonies who declared themselves independent states and the British Empire. The war ended with a victory for the colonists who gained their independence from Britain.
5. The War of 1812
The War of 1812 (1812-1815) was fought between the United States and the British Empire. The war began with a dispute over maritime rights and American expansion into Native American territory in the Midwest. Tensions between the two countries had been growing for some time and they erupted into open hostilities after the United States declared war on Britain in 1812.
The war was fought primarily in North America but it also spread to Europe where it became known as the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815). In North America, it was fought between the United States and British Empire as well as their respective Native American allies. The war ended in a stalemate but the United States gained a valuable measure of respect on the international stage.
6. The Patriot Revolution
The Patriot Revolution (1837-1838) was a series of rebellions against British rule in Upper Canada (present-day Ontario) and Lower Canada (present-day Quebec). The rebels were opposed to a number of British policies such as taxation, restrictions on trade, etc. They were also opposed to what they saw as British attempts to force English language and culture on the French Canadian population.
The rebellions were crushed by the British military but they served to increase tensions between France and England which would culminate in the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871). In Canada, the rebellions led to increased autonomy for both Quebec and Ontario within the Canadian Confederation which was established in 1867.
7. The Oregon boundary dispute
The Oregon boundary dispute was a diplomatic conflict between the United States and the British Empire over the ownership of the Oregon Country. The dispute began with the discovery of gold in California which led to an influx of American settlers into the Oregon Country. The British government claimed that the Oregon Country was part of their territory but the American settlers refused to recognize this claim.
The dispute was resolved diplomatically with the signing of the Oregon Treaty in 1846 which established the 49th parallel as the border between the United States and the British Empire in the Oregon Country.
8. The Alaska boundary dispute
The Alaska boundary dispute was a diplomatic conflict between the United States and the British Empire over the ownership of Alaska. The dispute began with the purchase of Alaska by the United States from Russia in 1867. The British Empire claimed that Alaska was part of their territory but the United States refused to recognize this claim.
The dispute was resolved diplomatically with the signing of the Alaska Treaty in 1867 which established the Alaskan panhandle as the border between the United States and the British Empire in Alaska.
The political and social conflicts between the French and the English have a long history dating back to the 16th century when the two powers first came into contact with each other in the New World. The conflicts between the two powers culminated in a series of wars which had a profound effect on the development of both Canada and the United States.