The seven-years war was a conflict between the British and French empire that defined what we know today as the Americas and tilted the major powers of the world in extremely drastic ways. The buildup to the war as we know it doesn’t have a definite start date, as France and England have had a long rivalry, but the first signs of this specific war brewing was when France started building trading outposts and forts along the Ohio River Valley along the Mississippi, a region not clearly under the ownership of either country. After a few unsuccessful attempts by the British to stop the construction of Fort Duquesne, a major French fort on disputed territory, a British officer called George Washington attacked the fort unsuccessfully. The French then counterattacked, destroying the nearby British Fort Necessity. These minor skirmishes led to rising tensions and the break-out of the war.
My inquiry question is in what way did the Seven Years War decide the fate of the Americas in the 17th century? This question is important because usually, our society is very Eurocentric and focuses only on the important events that happen elsewhere in the world rather than paying attention to the major changes that were going on in the Americas.
To briefly go over this conflict (focusing on the Americas), I will start with the opening battles of the war. As I stated above, George Washington’s attacks and the French response rose tensions very high between the two countries. They both decided to send troops to reinforce the Americas, and during this time, the first battle of the war occurs, when the British attack the French fort Fort Beauséjour.
After this initial attack, the British started along a chain of victories, interrupted only by the embarrassing defeat at the Battle of Carillon where two British generals with 16,000 men under their combined control lost to French general Montcalm leading only 4,000 men. On September 13th, 1759, British general James Wolfe led his army of 5,000 men to scale the cliff leading up to the French town of L’Anse-au-Foulon. His plan was to then march on to the massive French city, Quebec City, under the command of the renowned Montcalm and conduct a surprise attack. After successfully scaling the cliff with his men, he engaged the enemy in the fields of Abraham, and dealt a crippling blow to the French, capturing Quebec City and killing the French general Montcalm. One year later, the French capitulated and signed the treaty of Paris, ending the seven-years war.
Cause and Consequence:
The seven-years war was caused by an intense rivalry between the British and French nations which has dated back a very long time. It was also caused by the tensions between the French and British in the new world, as each wanted to expand their trade empire, and both had to eliminate each other before having full control of the trade empire in the Americas. This war strengthened the British and Spanish control over the Americas, but also weakened the British economy. The war also seriously injured the native tribes by inflicting high casualties and lessening their control of the trade route. Due to the British empire’s high debt, they decided to tax their new colonies in the Americas, which eventually led to the American civil war.
Continuity and Change:
Compared to our modern day, the seven-years war was extremely different, especially in warfare tactics. For example, the Battle of the Plains of Abraham mainly was a British victory because of their successful strategy of holding fire until the enemies were fully in range. However, if the same tactic were to be used nowadays, the enemy could simply airstrike the location, pick off enemy troops from long range or send armored vehicles in to overrun the enemy. Over time, although the basic military strategy is still somewhat the same, technology has advanced our weaponry to a point that allows us to employ new tactics on the battlefield, which makes old tactics like the trenches of WW1 or the infantry lines of the Napoleonic age obsolete.
Based on the research I conducted and the information above, I can conclude that the seven years war did, in fact, have a major impact on the Americas. First, the Native tribes who were in control of the beaver fur trade routes in the Americas lost a lot of their power and also took a lot of casualties, allowing them to be manipulated easily by the British. The British victory in America allowed the settlement in the south to flourish under Spain and the North to also expand rapidly. This war would also eventually lead to the American revolution, which fundamentally changed the way the new world was governed, and weakened the British Empire.