Losing a Continent: France's North American Policy, 1753-1763

Losing a Continent: France's North American Policy, 1753-1763

Losing a Continent: France's North American Policy, 1753-1763

Losing a Continent: France's North American Policy, 1753-1763

Synopsis

Brecher provides an unprecedentedly full-scale analysis of the political, military, social, and economic conditions of mid-18th-century France and its North American colony, New France. That analysis also examines the direct connection between those internal conditions and the results for France of the war that ended in 1763. In doing so, Brecher assesses France's military strategy and major battles in Europe and America, as well as the diplomatic goals Versailles set for itself in the conduct of the war. Further, he describes why France concurred in leaving not only Canada, but also the vast Louisiana territory, to be divided between England and France's belated wartime ally, Bourbon Spain. Finally, Brecher explains the longer-term implications of the war for North American development and for the future of France.

Excerpt

The shots fired at the British in April 1775 at Concord may have been "heard around the world," but the ones fired at the French by George Washington's men some twenty years earlier in the Ohio valley literally set that world afire. Before the flames were finally put out in 1763, a million fighting men had lost their lives in one of the most widespread and costly wars ever recorded to that date. Among its decisive results was the elimination of the century-old French menace to British America. This freed the colonists from a security dependence on the mother country and, in John Adams' view, marked the start of the process of revolution and union that led to their Declaration of Independence in 1776. Thus the end of "the French and Indian War" was coincident with the beginning of the history of the United States.

The very names assigned to this global conflict reflect its complexities and ambiguities, for example, "the War of the Conquest," "the Third Silesian War," "the Seven Years' War." From the viewpoint of England's American colonists, engaged in skirmishes and pitched battles from 1754 on, the enemy certainly were their immediate neighbors, the French and the Indians allied to them. On the other hand, the French Canadians saw it as the implementation of England's age-old plan, at times actually attempted, to conquer Canada. Finally, from the perspective of the Europeans, on whose continent the bulk of the fighting and casualties would take . . .

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