The period from 1765 to 1768 was marked by conflict and competition as many newcomers tried to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the colonial frontier. The problems began with the capitulation of Montreal in 1759, which ended the Seven Years War in America and opened the area north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi to British and colonial merchants.
Prior to 1760 the colonists had few difficulties with the British government and exploited the frontier as far as they could in the face of French resistance. With the French army removed, the frontier became a vast new market, made up of Indians who traded their fur; the British army which occupied the area; the Indian Department which was charged with the management of the tribes; and an increasing number of white settlers.
Even though the French had lost Canada to England at the end of the Seven Years War and the Canadians were forced to ship their furs to Britain rather than France, still the French retained control of the Indian trade at the retail level. Despite the advantage of low-cost merchandise offered by the colonial traders from New York and Pennsylvania, the French continued to hold the trade because of a century of experience with the Indians and a close affiliation with the tribes. Many of the French voyageurs and winterers were part Indian and had wives and children in the villages they served. The fur trade was their way of life, just as farming was a way of life in midwestern America in the early twentieth century. Despite any obstacle, the French fought to maintain their position in the Indian trade. The colonial traders, with the possible exception of the Oswego traders, had no such commitment.
The French merchants encouraged the Indians to dispose of the colonial traders during Pontiac’s Uprising, and the threat to their lives discouraged the colonists from resuming their competition after peace was made with the Indians. The French rid themselves of the colonial merchants in Montreal by