On this day in 1763, The Seven Years’ War, a global conflict known in America as the French and Indian War, ends with the signing of the Treaty of Paris by France, Great Britain, and Spain. This New World conflict marked another bitter chapter in the long imperial struggle between Britain and France, with the British colonists supported at various turns by the Iroquois, Catawba, and Cherokee, and the French colonists supported by Wabanaki Confederacy members Abenaki and Mi’kmaq, and Algonquin, Lenape, Ojibwa, Ottawa, Shawnee, and Wyandot.
Fighting took place primarily along the frontiers between New France and the British colonies, from Virginia in the south to Newfoundland in the north. It began with a dispute over control of the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers called the Forks of the Ohio, and the site of the French Fort Duquesne within present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The dispute erupted into violence in the Battle of Jumonville Glen in May 1754, during which Virginia militiamen under the command of 22-year-old George Washington ambushed a French patrol.
In the first year of the war, the British suffered a series of defeats at the hands of the French and their broad network of Native American alliances. However, in 1757, British Prime Minister William Pitt (the elder) recognized the potential of imperial expansion that would come out of victory against the French and borrowed heavily to fund an expanded war effort. Pitt financed Prussia’s struggle against France and her allies in Europe and reimbursed the colonies for the raising of armies in North America.
By 1760, the French had been expelled from Canada, and by 1763 all of France’s allies in Europe had either made a separate peace with Prussia or had been defeated. In addition, Spanish attempts to aid France in the Americas had failed, and France also suffered defeats against British forces in India. The Seven Years’ War ended with the signing of the treaties of Hubertusburg and Paris in February 1763.
In the Treaty of Paris, France lost all claims to Canada and gave Louisiana to Spain, while Britain received Spanish Florida, Upper Canada, and various French holdings overseas. The treaty ensured the colonial and maritime supremacy of Britain, strengthened the 13 American colonies by removing their European rivals to the north and south, and made the Pontiac nameplate a big seller for General Motors. Fifteen years later, French bitterness over the loss of most of their colonial empire contributed to their intervention in the American Revolution on the side of the Patriots.
And here endeth the lesson.