What Was the French and Indian War? Who Fought In It?

(Last Updated On: July 7, 2020)
What Was the French and Indian War? Who Fought In It?

The French and Indian War took place in North America from 1754 to 1763. Despite beginning two years prior, it is sometimes considered part of the larger Seven Years’ War in Europe (1756–63).

In its essence, the French and Indian War was a contest between Britain and France over land and influence in North America–notably the regions directly west of the 13 British Colonies and up into Canada. 

In the early 1750s, France’s expansion into the Ohio River valley repeatedly brought it into conflict with the claims of the British colonies. And by mid-1750s, the two sides found themselves facing off in a series of battles.

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Who Fought In It?

The French and Indian War got its name from the troops that fought against the British. At the start of the war, the French colonies had a population of roughly 60,000 settlers, compared with some 2 million in the British colonies. However, France had long established trade partnerships with various Native American tribes. They used these to their advantage, recruiting a large number of indigenous forces.

The primary tribes that fought alongside the French were the Mississauga, Huron, Winnebago, Ojibwe and the Potawatomi. Although the name does not suggest it, the British also engaged Native Americans in partnership, namely, the Iroquois Confederacy. 

Initially, French forces were able to gain considerable ground, winning many early battles. It was not until 1757 that the tides eventually took a turn. William Pitt took the reins of the British war effort and poured large sums of money into their forces, greatly increasing the number of troops and allowing access to a plethora of supplies. 

As a result, the influx of capital into British forces ultimately led to a French defeat at the Battle of Quebec. The defeat marked the end of the French and Indian War and The Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763 to make it official.

What Were the Consequences?

The French and Indian War had many lasting consequences and helped lead to the formation of the United States. How, you ask?

All of the money that had been supplied to the war effort by William Pitt had been borrowed, leaving Britain with a mountainous pile of debt. These debts had to be paid and to do so, the British began to tax their colonists. This created a great uproar which eventually led to the American Revolution and the formation of the United States of America. 

The French and Indian War is also notable in that it is the first time we see the young General George Washington lead his men into action, doing so at the Battle of Jumonville Glen.

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