1754 — 1763

Half a century of conflict between Britain and France over North America culminated in the French and Indian War, or the Seven Years’ War in Europe. Unlike the three previous Anglo-French wars, which were outgrowths of European conflicts, this one began with colonial initiatives. Fur traders and Virginia planters were interested in exploiting and developing the Ohio River valley region. The French, determined to secure the territory against encroaching British and American traders and land speculators, built a chain of forts along Pennsylvania’s Allegheny River. The British ministry ordered colonial governors to repel the French advance, “by force” if necessary. The war came to an official end in 1763, with the Peace of Paris. The treaty gave Britain all French land in Canada except for two fishing islands south of Newfoundland. To the south, the treaty gave Britain all of France’s holdings east of the Mississippi River, which Spain received from France before ceding Florida to Britain. Britain returned the conquered Caribbean slave colonies Guadeloupe and Martinique to France.

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