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The French and Indian War

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The French and Indian War had profound effects for both the British Empire and the American colonists. It is often seen as the source of much of the resentment between the English government and the colonists that eventually led to the American Revolution of 1775. The British victory in the French and Indian War had a great impact on the British Empire. Firstly, it meant a great expansion of British territorial claims in the New World. But the cost of the war had greatly enlarged Britain’s debt. Moreover, the war generated substantial resentment towards the colonists among English leaders, who were not satisfied with the financial and military help they had received from the colonists during the war. All these factors combined to persuade many English leaders that the colonies needed a major reorganization and that the central authority should be in London. The English leaders set in motion plans to give London more control over the government of the colonies and these plans were eventually a big part of the colonial resentment towards British imperial policies that led to the American Revolution.

The war had an equally profound but very different effect on the American colonists. First of all, the colonists had learned to unite against a common foe. Before the war, the thirteen colonies had found almost no common ground and they coexisted in mutual distrust. But now thay had seen that together they could be a power to be reckoned with. And the next common foe would be Britain.

With France removed from North America, the vast interior of the continent lay open for the Americans to colonize. But The English government decided otherwise. To induce a controlled population movement, they issued a Royal Proclamation that prohibited settlement west of the line drawn along the crest of the Alleghenny mountains and to enforce that meassure they authorized a permanent army of 10,000 regulars (paid for by taxes gathered from the colonies; most importantly the “Sugar Act” and the “Stamp Act”). This infuriated the Americans who, after having been held back by the French, now saw themselves stopped by the British in their surge west.

For the Indians of the Ohio Valley, the third major party in the French and Indian War, the British victory was disastrous. Those tribes that had allied themselves with the French had earned the enmity of the victorious English. The Iroquois Confederacy, which had allied themselves with Britain, fared only slightly better. The alliance quickly unraveled and the Confederacy began to crumble from within. The Iroquois continued to contest the English for control of the Ohio Valley for another fifty years; but they were never again in a position to deal with their white rivals on terms of military or political equality.

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