Chapter 6 The Duel for North America, 1608–1763 Chapter Themes Theme

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Chapter 6

The Duel for North America, 1608–1763

Chapter Themes

Theme: As part of their worldwide rivalry, Great Britain and France engaged in a great struggle for colonial control of North America, culminating in the British victory in the Seven Years’ War (French and Indian War) that drove France from the continent.

Theme: Before the Seven Years' War, Britain and its American colonies had already been facing some tensions as can be seen in sporadic British efforts to enforce trade laws and colonial reaction to the peace treaty in 1748. During the Seven Years' War, the relationship between British military regulars and colonial militias added to the tensions. The French defeat in the Seven Years' War created conditions for a growing conflict between Britain and its American colonies. The lack of a threatening European colonial power in North America gave the American colonists a sense of independence that clashed with new British imperial demands such as stationing soldiers in the colonies and the Proclamation of 1763.

chapter summary

Like Britain, France entered late into the American colonial scramble, eventually developing an extensive though thinly settled empire economically based on the fur trade. During much of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Britain and France engaged in a bitter power struggle that frequently erupted into worldwide wars. In North America these wars constituted an extended military duel for imperial control of the continent.

The culminating phase of this struggle was inaugurated by young George Washington’s venture into the sharply contested Ohio country. After early reversals in the Seven Years’ War (French and Indian War), the British under William Pitt revived their fortunes and won a decisive victory at Quebec, finally forcing the French from North America.

The American colonials, who had played a large part in Britain’s imperial wars with France, emerged with increased confidence in their own abilities. The removal of the French and Spanish threat to British control of North America kindled increasing tensions between the colonists and Britain. The Ottawa chief Pontiac’s unsuccessful uprising in 1763 convinced the British of the need to continue stationing troops in America. But with foreign threats gone, the colonists were unwilling to pay taxes for British protection and increasingly resented Britain’s authority over them.

Mandatory Homework: Make note cards on the following:

  1. King Louis XIV

  2. Quebec

  3. Samuel de Champlain

  4. Huron

  5. New France

  6. Robert de La Salle

  7. King William’s War and Queen Anne’s War

  8. War of Austrian Succession or King George’s War

  9. Ohio Valley

  10. Fort Necessity

  11. French Acadians

  12. French and Indian War or Seven Years War

  13. Albany Congress

  14. General Braddock

  15. William Pitt

  16. Battle of Quebec

  17. Treaty of Paris

  18. Ottawa Chief Pontiac

Homework Directions: Read the chapter and complete the following:

1. Read Chapter 6…take Cornell notes or use Wikidots and copy the notes they have for Chapter 6 into your notebook.

2. Complete note cards for terms above.

3. Complete the Study Guide questions; answer 4 analysis questions…but be able to answer any of those in the list.

Chapter 6 Study Guide

France Finds a Foothold in Canada

1. How was the colony of New France different from the British North American colonies?

New France Fans Out

2. What factors led to the French settlement of New France?

The Clash of Empires

3. Describe the early wars between France and Britain.

George Washington Inaugurates War with France

4. How did George Washington spark the French and Indian War?

Global War and Colonial Disunity

5. What was meant by the statement, “America was conquered in Germany?

Braddock's Blundering and Its Aftermath

6. What setbacks did the British suffer in the early years of the French and Indian War?

Pitt's Palms of Victory

7. What was the significance of the British victory in the French and Indian War?

Restless Colonials

8. How did the French and Indian War affect the relationship between the colonies and with the mother country?

Makers of America: The French

9. What contributions to American culture were made by the French?

War’s Fateful Aftermath

10. How did French defeat lead to westward expansion and tension with Native Americans and the British?

Analysis Questions

  1. Why was the French empire ultimately so much less successful than either the Spanish or the British empires?

  2. Compare the image of the “typical” early French colonizer (the fur-trading voyageur or Jesuit priest) with the image of the typical Spanish colonizer (the conquistador) or English colonizer (the Puritan or tobacco planter). Consider how these images reflect the nature of each nation’s colonial effort.

It was impossible to know this country without having wintered here, for on arriving in summer everything is very pleasant owing to the woods, the fair landscape, the good fishing…but winter in this country lasts six months!” (1610) Samuel de Champlain (1567–1635)

I have chosen a life more suited to my solitary disposition, which nevertheless does not make me harsh to my people; though joined to a life among savages, it makes me, perhaps, less polished and compliant than the atmosphere of Paris requires.” (Letter to France, 1683) Robert La Salle (1643–1687)

  1. Compare French relations with the Indians to British and Spanish relations. Why did most Indians support France against Britain?

  2. If France instead of Britain had won the “duel for North America,” would the thirteen colonies ever have become independent of Britain, or would they have been forced to stay within the empire for protection against France? Would Detroit, St. Louis, and New Orleans now be cities in “Canada” rather than in the United States?

  3. How did the treatment of Americans by British officers and military during the French and Indian War contribute to simmering resentment against the “mother country”?

  4. Do colonial attitudes and behavior during the French and Indian War suggest that Americans felt less real patriotic loyalty to Britain, and that the ties had become largely practical ones?

  5. How do the activities of the young George Washington illustrate the double role of the colonists as both “British subjects” and “Americans?”

The Virginia Companies behaved like men and died like soldiers; for I believe out of the three companies that were there that day scarce thirty were left alive.…The English soldiers exposed all those who were inclined to do their duty to almost certain death; and at length, despite every effort to the contrary, [they] broke and ran as sheep before the hounds.” (Letter to Governor Dinwiddie on the Battle of Fort Duquense, 1755) George Washington (1732–1799)

  1. From Britain's perspective, were stationing soldiers in the New World permanently and issuing the Proclamation of 1763 good colonial policies? What problems were these policies trying to address? How else might have Britain solved those problems while limiting colonial contempt?

  2. Should the French and Indian War be considered one of the major causes of the American Revolution? Why or why not?

  3. When the Seven Years’ War began, most English colonists were extremely proud and happy to be part of the world’s greatest empire. When it ended many of them no longer felt that way, even though the British empire was greater than ever. Why?

  4. Focus on the “Indian factor” in the French empire and the French and Indian War. Examine French relations with the Indians compared with British (and perhaps Spanish), and consider why most Indians supported France against Britain.

  5. From 1600 – 1763, several European nations vied for control of the North American continent. Why did England win the struggle? ( 73)

13. Britain’s wars for empire, far more than its mercantilist policies, dictated the economic fortunes of Britain’s North American colonies in the eighteenth century. Assess the validity of this statement. (87)
14. In the two decades before the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, a profound shift in the way many Americans thought and felt about the British government and their colonial governments. Assess the validity of this statement in view of the political and constitutional debates of these decades. (89)
15. For the period before 1750, analyze the ways in which Britain’s policy of salutary neglect influenced the development of American society as illustrated in the following:

Legislative assemblies Commerce Religion (95)

16. The French and Indian War (1754-1763) altered the relationship between Britain and its North American colonies. Assess this change in regard to TWO of the following in the period between 1763 and 1765.

Land acquisition Politics Economics (07B)


  • Competition among France, Spain, and Great Britain for North American colonies shape North American affairs. Affairs in Europe affect the North American colonies.

  • France’s defeat in the Seven Years’ War results in the collapse of its North American empire. A military and political; victory for Britain and its American colonists, the war exposes and aggravates long-standing tensions between the mother country and its colonies and between colonists and Indians.

  • Britain, Spain, and France all vied for control of the territories west of the Appalachian Mountains. It was not until the French defeat in the Seven Years’ War that Britain was able to lay claim to much of this territory. The French and their Indian allies were not so quick to abandon their forts and trading posts, however.

  • American colonists participated in the war, led by such luminaries as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. Franklin’s plan for the Albany Congress laid the foundation for future colonial cooperation when tensions between Britain and its American colonies erupted into a full-scale war. Note that there was not widespread colonial support for the war with France.

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