The First Global War: Britain, France, and the Fate of North America, 1756-1775

The First Global War: Britain, France, and the Fate of North America, 1756-1775

The First Global War: Britain, France, and the Fate of North America, 1756-1775

The First Global War: Britain, France, and the Fate of North America, 1756-1775

Synopsis

By 1756 the wilderness war for control of North America that erupted two years earlier between France and England had expanded into a global struggle among all of Europe's Great Powers. Its land and sea battles raged across the North American continent, engulfed Europe and India, and stretched from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, Indian, and Pacific waters. The new conflict, now commonly known as the Seven Years' War of 1756-1763, was a direct continuation of the last French and Indian War. This study explores the North American campaigns in relation to events elsewhere in the world, from the ministries of Whitehall and Versailles to the land and sea battles in Europe, Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean.

Excerpt

It is another kind of folly. . . . You know that these two nations are at war for a few acres of snow in Canada, and that they spend over this beautiful war much more than Canada is worth.

--Voltaire, Candide

Voltaire, of course, was wrong. Canada was more than a few barren, snowblasted acres. That vast land spanning half a continent harbored a potential wealth that far exceeded the cost of the wars fought over its fate.

Yet, at the time, Voltaire skepticism seemed well founded. Not only Canada but all of New France, from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico, was a perennial drain on the royal treasury. On February 11, 1763, when Foreign Minister Choiseul scratched his name to the Treaty of Paris ending the Seven Years' War and ceding New France to England, all of Versailles' ministers and financiers must have breathed a huge sigh of relief at having shed their burdensome North American empire.

If the war's end brought relief to Versailles, it wrung jubilation from the aristocrats and subjects of England and its American colonies. The Treaty of Paris ended a century-and-a-half struggle between Britain and France for North America. During that time, Whitehall and Versailles fought five blood-soaked wars and constantly provoked Indians to raise the scalping knife against each other's subjects for the mastery of that land. Britannia now ruled over an empire that stretched from the Atlantic to the Rockies and the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Circle.

The final war dwarfed all four previous conflicts combined. The wilderness war that erupted in 1754 between France and England for North America . . .

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