The French and Indian War

A new struggle between England and France began in 1754 in America. French and British soldiers fought over the control of the Ohio Valley. At stake were the fur trade and access to the Mississippi River, the lifeline of the frontier to the west. A young George Washington attacked the French Fort Duquesne. Soon after the attack, his troops were forced to surrender. Then a second British force also met with defeat. The British declared war, and the conflict known in Europe as the Seven Years War began. Americans would call it the French and Indian War.

The first part of the war was a disaster for Britain. Attacks on French territory ended in bitter defeat. The French and their Indian allies burned and pillaged British settlements. The French struck within sixty miles of Philadelphia. The Americans believed that Britain was not committed to protecting its North American colonies.

The turning point came when Englishman William Pitt took over the wartime operations. He believed North America was critical for England’s global domination. Pitt turned recruitment and supplies over to local authorities in America and promised to reimburse them for their efforts. He committed more troops and replaced old war heroes with vigorous young ones.

The tide began to turn. The British military captured Louisbourg, an important strategic port they used to close the St. Lawrence Seaway. The final blow to the French was struck in Quebec in 1759. Commander James Wolfe sent his forces up a rocky embankment to surprise the French. The British gained control of Quebec and Montreal.

The French colonization of North America came to an end.

Source: The French and Indian War
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