Common Sense Government: The Seven Years’ War
Things did not really heat up between the British and the colonists until 1763, at the culmination of the Seven Years’ War, which is also known as the French and Indian War. The causes of the war, while interesting, are not nearly as important as what happened in its wake. This event, more than any other, set the colonies on a collision course with the British Empire which would result, just 13 short years later, in the War for Independence.
The first thing to realize is that the war was that pivotal event that allowed the British to solidify their control over the North American colonies. And where the British had all but ignored the colonies prior to the war, electing to allow them to grow without a lot of influence from the mother country, things began to change immediately after the war. The Seven Years’ War, like all wars, was a costly affair, and it resulted in a massive debt for the British. That debt would have to be paid, and the British were of a mind that since the colonies were the beneficiaries of the war, they should bear the brunt of the cost. The British also decreed, in the Proclamation of 1763, that the colonists could not settle west of the Appalachian Mountains. This proclamation was duly ignored by the colonists, which would come to be important in the years that followed, as the colonists developed a clear and rational theory about why they had every right to ignore just about everything that the British Parliament did.
- In the fight between the French and the British, on which side did Native Americans choose to fight?
- One result of the war was the effective elimination of the French from North America: France ceded Canada to the British, and Louisiana to the Spanish. Do you think we (and the world) would be better off if there were still a Spanish and a French country in North America? Or was the consolidation of the continent, on balance, a good thing?
- Wars are very expensive, both in human and financial costs. One could argue that without the debt caused by the French and Indian War, the American colonies might not have developed the grievances that led to the American Revolution. How would you weigh this unintended consequence of going to war, if you were a politician contemplating a new war today?
This reading is an excerpt from Certell’s Common Sense Government eBook. Certell offers curriculum materials and eBooks free of charge for use by students and teachers. Click here to download the Common Sense Government materials.
Brainpop. French and Indian War [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.brainpop.com/socialstudies/ushistory/frenchandindianwar/icon.png.