This New World conflict, sometimes known as the Seven Years’ War, added a new chapter to the protracted rivalry between Britain and France for global dominance. The official British declaration of war was made in 1756 as a result of a series of wars that followed France’s development into the Ohio River valley and the repeated conflict it caused with the claims of the British possessions. With wins at Louisbourg, Fort Frontenac, and the French-Canadian stronghold of Quebec, the British turned the tide with financial support from future prime minister William Pitt. The British received the provinces of Canada from France and Florida from Spain during the 1763 peace conference, allowing the Mississippi Valley to expand westward.
The Second Hundred Years’ War, often known as the Seven Years’ War, was an imperial conflict between Britain and France that lasted from 1756 to 1763. In the colonies, it was known as the French and Indian War.
Early in the 1750s, France’s advance into the valley of the Ohio River brought it into constant dispute with Virginia’s and other British colonies’ claims. Fort Duquesne was constructed by the French in 1754 near the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, which formed the Ohio River (in present-day Pittsburgh), making it a strategically significant fort that the British frequently attacked.
The young George Washington, Gen. Edward Braddock, and Braddock’s successor, Massachusetts Governor William Shirley, were all defeated by the French in quick succession during the French triumphs of 1754 and 1755.
In 1755, Governor Shirley banished hundreds of French colonists to other British colonies because of fear that they would support France in any military conflict. Many of the exiles endured horrendous conditions. The British military effort was hindered during this time by a lack of support at home, rivalry within the American colonies, and France’s superior ability in gaining the support of the Indians.
The Seven Years’ War began when the British officially declared war in 1756, but Lord Loudoun, the British army’s new commander in America, struggled against the French and their Indian allies and had little success.
Because William Pitt, the new British monarch, considered the colonial wars as essential to creating a sizable British empire, the tide began to change in 1757. He significantly borrowed money to pay for the war, paying Prussia to fight in Europe and the colonies to raise troops in North America.
The British triumph in Canada
At Louisbourg, close to the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, in July 1758, the British achieved their first significant victory. They captured Fort Frontenac at the western end of the river a month later.
The Yorktown Battle
After the French demolished and abandoned Fort Duquesne in November 1758, General John Forbes took it back for the British. Fort Pitt, named after William Pitt, was then constructed there, giving the British a crucial fortress.
The British then advanced on Quebec, but General James Wolfe scored a stunning victory there in September 1759 during the Battle of Quebec on the Plains of Abraham (though both he and the French commander, the Marquis de Montcalm, were fatally wounded).
In September 1760, Montreal fell, and the French were forced to abandon their final hold on Canada. As soon as Spain sided with France against England, the war continued with Britain focusing on annexing French and Spanish territory around the globe.