The French and Indian Wars is a name used in the United States for a series of conflicts in North America that represented the actions there that accompanied the European dynastic wars. In Quebec, the wars are generally referred to as the Intercolonial Wars. While some conflicts involved Spanish and Dutch forces, all pitted the Kingdom of Great Britain, its colonies and American Indian allies on one side and France, its colonies and Indian allies on the other.
The expanding French and British colonies were contending for control of the western, or interior, territories. Whenever the European countries went to war, there were actions within and by these colonies although the dates of the conflict did not necessarily exactly coincide with those of the larger conflicts.
The North American wars, and their associated European wars, in sequence, are:
|Years of War||North American War||European War||Treaty|
|1689 – 1697||
King William's War
|War of the
War of the League of Augsburg
|Treaty of Ryswick|
|1702 – 1713||
Queen Anne's War
|War of the Spanish Succession||Treaty of Utrecht (1713)|
|1744 – 1748||War of the Austrian Succession||Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748)|
|1754 – 1763||
The French and Indian
|Seven Years' War||Treaty of Paris (1763)|
The naming of conflicts after the British monarch of the day is not used by Canadians, who merely employ the name of the larger European conflict (e.g. the War of the Grand Alliance rather than King William's War) or refer to them as the Intercolonial Wars.
As the wars proceeded the military advantage moved inexorably towards the British side. This was largely a reflection of the greater population and productive capacity of the British colonies compared with those of France, combined with the greater ability of the British to resupply their colonies and project military power by sea. The French were able to largely offset this in the first three conflicts by more effective mobilization of Native American allies, but were finally overwhelmed in the fourth war.
Ironically, the overwhelming victory of the British played a role in eventual loss of their American colonies. Without the threat of French invasion, the American colonies saw little need for British military protection and resented British limits on the colonization of the new French territories as stated in the Proclamation of 1763. These pressures contributed to the American Revolutionary War.
The first three of the French and Indian Wars followed the same basic pattern: they all started in Europe and then moved to America. Once the fighting came to America, it was mostly conducted by colonial militias. The final conflict broke this pattern by beginning in North America. Larger numbers of British regular troops were used alongside the militia and almost all French territory seized by the British was not returned. The British victory in the French and Indian Wars reduced France's New World empire to a few West Indian islands, French Guiana, and St. Pierre and Miquelon, a small island fishing colony off Newfoundland.