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The Seven Year’s war is considered the first world war as it is fought in five different continents. The war is so significant to American history because the participants were some the greatest powers of its time and it had such a detrimental aftermath. The Seven Years’ War is known for its change of fighting tactics, British triumph after many failed battles, and extreme financial expenses. The outcome of the Seven Years’ War had permanent ramifications for the Americans, as it will be a catalyst to the American Revolution.
The Spanish empire populated the southwest territories. They were in control of what is known as the Florida, Texas, and New Mexico area. French merchants, just north of them, were making their way south to areas such as Louisiana. After the 1760s, Spain was violently pushing the Native American groups such as the Comanche and Apache to gain land closer to the Rio Grande river. The Spanish tried to figure out what to do with the Indians surrounding their territory. The had trouble deciding if the Indians should be held captive as slaves or if they should be integrated into their communities. The Spanish realized they were outnumbered by the surrounding Indians and slaves, and the military commanders decided to bribe the Indians with gifts and trade. This helped Spain gain more of the northern empire, but it didn’t completely fool the Indians.
The French empire remained mostly in Central and North America. The French traders took over Canada and pushed their way south to New Orleans and spread outwards in all directions. The French became Britain’s rival as their population sky-rocketed to numbers as high as fifty-five thousand colonists. While the French empire was growing, the British still outnumbered them with around 1.5 million colonists. French forts were starting to get closer to the British, causing lots of competition for trade.
As the French, British, and Indians struggled to maintain power, there was a “middle ground” that was created as a border between European colonies and the Indians. The Indians used this area as a neutral zone between the empires. The Indians recognized the power-struggle between France and Britain and used it to their advantage. They continued to have associations with neither party in the struggle until it was absolutely necessary for them to pick a side.
The Seven Years’ War, or the French Indian War, started in 1754 as George Washington tried persuading the French forts to abandon the area near the Ohio Valley. After the men refused, George and other Virginians went back with soldiers and attempted to build their own fort. The French and Indians intervened, destroyed the fort, and killed one-third of the soldiers. Washington had to surrender and leave. Later, a General named Edward Braddock went to today’s Pittsburgh and was ambushed. This event resulted in the loss of nearly two thousand soldiers. The French and Indians were capturing forts, fighting soldiers, and killing colonists for two years. The British fought back and captured five thousand French colonists, took their land, sent them away, and sold their land to other settlers in New England. Both sides of the fight had been unrelenting. The British started to put money into naval forces and got funds to hold the line of soldiers while they attacked the French colonists in 1759. They captured important outposts that French had been in charge of, took over islands of the French Caribbean, and took over control of India. In Europe, Prussia worked to ally itself with Britain and fight off France, Russia, and Spain. Prussia also had some other opponents that created conflicts such as Austria and Sweden.
The War ended with the Peace of Paris in 1763. France gave up Canada to Britain, and Britain gave back the sugar islands of the French Caribbean. Spain gave Florida to Britain, and Britain gave back the Philippines and Cuba that was taken during the war. Spain also received Louisiana from France. The British now had control of majority of the Mississippi River. The war was exceptionally brutal in its tactics and ways. The war caused many financial problems for all parties attached. France found itself in a financial crisis that would last for nearly thirty years that would later cause the French Revolution. The British raised their taxes on the Americans to help pay for the war which would spark the beginning of the American Revolution. The Indians, while fighting on both sides of the war, wanted to remain independent after the war. They wanted to keep their middle ground area, but the French had given up the land that wasn’t theirs to the British. The Indians recognized that Britain would be a threat to their independence. They started a revolt from the British in the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley called Pontiac’s Rebellion that said for them to reject British technology, cut ties with whites from their resources and trade, and drive out the British from the area. The war and the affiliation with mostly French soldiers helped create an identity for the Indians themselves. While the Indians fought back against the British, the British started their counter-attack that caused each tribe to make peace. While the British still won, they created the Proclamation of 1763 which said that colonial expansion must stop west of the Appalachian Mountains. They cared about fixing the conflicts more than the actual Indians, and most of the settlers ignored this Proclamation and sold their land anyway. The Proclamation actually created more conflicts because it was not carried out properly.
The Seven Years’ War was a clear power-and-land-struggle for the parties involved. The battle for land and ports, along with the land surrounding the Ohio Valley taken by the Indians, helped create the battleground for the Seven Years War. The impact of the war is clear – it “permanently altered the global balance of power”, and “redrew the map of the world and produced a dramatic change within the colonies as well” (Foner 169 & 173). Pennsylvania had the most prevalent effects from the war, where it broke the Quaker elite and dealt with the accommodations with the Indians. These events ended the control of the Quakers in politics and increased animosity towards the Indians in the area. The people also finished with a sense of identity along with the Indians. The colonists liked that they had “saved the war” and helped Britain win. The British didn’t agree with this view of the colonists, but they would continue to think otherwise. The war influenced the connection between the colonies and their pride as a group. This war led to many movements, but most importantly, it led to the connection of the people in the colonies, the higher rates of British taxes, and the distaste for Indians, these created a basis for the American Revolution.
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