INTERNAL REVOLT AND FOREIGN WAR
1776-1785: Conspicuous State, England; Conspicuous Rival, France.
DURING THE DECADE from 1776 to 1785, Britain's position as the dominant western power was weakened. An inept government seemingly frittered away its influence in Europe. Thus, when the Americans finally revolted, Britain found herself isolated. France, the conspicuous rival, exacerbated Britain's difficulties by aiding the Americans. The French, however, were very careful to limit the confines of the war. It was a limited war for a limited objective, but even so it confused the French economic scene enough to topple the government into revolution.
At the Peace of Paris in 1763, which brought the Seven Years War to an end, Great Britain emerged as the chief intercontinental power. Although France still remained the major land power on the continent, the British gained maritime and commercial supremacy in both hemispheres and nearly eliminated the French overseas empire. France had ceded Senegal, several West Indian islands, Canada, Nova Scotia, and her claims to territory east of the Mississippi; at the same time the British had recovered Minorca from France and gained dominance in India. France had also agreed to turn over Louisana to Spain in order to compensate the Spanish for their cession of Florida to England. Spain, in addition, granted wood-cutting rights in the Honduras to the British. Frederick the Great of Prussia, the British ally on the continent, was to emerge as a major factor on the European scene.