THE thirteen original Colonies had been but a thin, longitudinal strip stretching precariously along the eastern sea- board of the American continent. Beyond the Alleghanies lay vast uncharted regions of forest and plains, and the remote escarpment of the Rockies; to the south and southwest the tangled swamps and barrens of the Floridas, the bayous of the Gulf coast, the farther plains of Texas and the great deserts of what are now New Mexico and Arizona.
Two other great European powers competed with England for domination of the New World. France held Canada and claimed all of the Continent from the Alleghanies to the Rockies. Spain, gorged with South America, swollen with the fabulous riches of Mexico, had pushed upward into California and the fertile plains of Texas. The Floridas, too, were Spanish by right of discovery and settlement.
England and its Colonies, however, never yielded certain vague pretensions to the land west of the Alleghanies, and bold pioneers, traders and fur-trappers pushed in ever-increasing numbers over the mountain barrier, in defiance of alleged French sovereignty. As yet the Spanish settlements were too remote for infiltration. Clashes inevitably arose between the French and the pushing colonists, which led, through a succession of stages, to the drawing of the American colonies into the vortex of the greater European war between the parent nations.
By the Treaty of Paris, England, victorious against the European coalition, took Canada and the Ohio Territory from the French, and Florida from Spain. France, to reconcile the Spanish Government to its losses in a war fought primarily for French interests, ceded to Spain the Louisiana Territory.
Once the menace of France had been removed, the colonists flocked in even greater numbers into the almost virgin Ohio Territory, only to meet with unexpected restrictions imposed on that great area by the mother country. Forced back once more to the line of the Alleghanies, resentment festered and grew, and contributed to some extent to the eventual American Revolution.