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French and Indian Wars

Introduction

French and Indian Wars, 1689–1763, the name given by American historians to the North American colonial wars between Great Britain and France in the late 17th and the 18th cent. They were really campaigns in the worldwide struggle for empire and were roughly linked to wars of the European coalitions. At the time they were viewed in Europe as only an unimportant aspect of the struggle, and, although the stakes were Canada, the American West, and the West Indies, the fortunes of war in Europe had more effect in determining the winner than the fighting in the disputed territory itself.

To the settlers in America, however, the rivalry of the two powers was of immediate concern, for the fighting meant not only raids by the French or the British but also the horrors of tribal border warfare. The conflict may be looked on, from the American viewpoint, as a single war with interruptions. The ultimate aim—domination of the eastern part of the continent—was the same; and the methods—capture of the seaboard strongholds and the little Western forts and attacks on frontier settlements—were the same.

The wars helped to bring about important changes in the British colonies. In addition to the fact of their ocean-wide distance from the mother country, the colonies felt themselves less dependent militarily on the British by the end of the wars; they became most concerned with their own problems and put greater value on their own institutions. In other words, they began to think of themselves as American rather than British.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. History


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