FRENCH AND SPANISH RIVALS, 1608 TO 1713
THE imperial policies described in the last chapter were largely influenced by the desire of English leaders, at home and in the colonies, to organize the national forces more effectively for the impending struggle with France, now recognized as England's chief rival for primacy in North America. Spain also had to be considered; but her power was declining and for the present her American possessions touched those of the English only in the Caribbean islands and on the Carolina-Florida frontiers. England and France, on the contrary, were both rising powers and in North America their interests clashed all along the line from Hudson Bay to the lower Mississippi and the West Indies.
The problem of imperial defense.
The main base of French enterprise in North America was then in the St. Lawrence valley. This colony of New France began in 1608, when the explorer, S amuel de Champlain, under the patronage of Henry IV, laid the foundations of Quebec and made it the starting point of a notable series of westward ventures in exploration, trade, and missions. Two years later, Henry IV was assassinated and the internal troubles which followed discouraged great national undertakings on either side of the Atlantic. By 1624, however, another great figure came to the front. Cardinal Richelieu, the real ruler of France for the next eighteen years, was an active promoter of American colonization whether on the mainland or in the West Indies. He organized for New France a company called the "Hundred Associates," with commercial and political privileges not wholly unlike
Beginnings of New France.