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The French and Indian War (1754-1763)

A Tenuous Peace (1760-63)

Battle of Quebec

A Tenuous Peace (1760-63), page 2

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Summary

After the surrender of Canada in 1760, the war was effectively over in North America. Nonetheless, fighting continued in other parts of the world for the next two years and small skirmishes—especially Indian raids—occasionally broke out in the colonies and along the Canadian border.

Despite this, the French and Indian War ended French political influence on the North American continent, a fact underscored by the Treaty of Paris, signed at the end of the Seven Year's War, in February 1763. As part of the negotiations for this treaty, France regained its wealthy sugar-producing islands in the Caribbean that had been lost to the British during the fighting—Martinique, Guadeloupe, and St. Lucia. With the exception of New Orleans, France surrendered all of its North American possessions east of the Mississippi to the British. All possessions west of the Mississippi were given to the Spanish.

Although the British won the war with the French, the British still faced pressing colonial problems that the Treaty of Paris only aggravated. The Indians in particular were angered by the provisions of peace that left little room for their concerns. One of the reasons they agreed to fight—on either side of the war—was to ensure that they would retain the sole rights to their land. Instead, the exhausted Indians were faced with the immediate encroachment of British speculators, traders, and settlers.

Disaffected and impoverished, a host of Indian nations organized in April 1763 under the leadership of an Ottawa chief named Pontiac. The forces included Ottawas, Chippewas, Potawatomis, Hurons, Shawnees, and Delawares. On May 9, 1763, the allies laid siege to Fort Detroit. That summer, they proceeded to destroy forts at Venango, LeBoeuf, and Presque Isle. They also attacked forts at Niagara and Pittsburgh.

The British reacted immediately and brutally. Their tactics included both ruthless bloodshed (Commander-in-chief of the British forces, Jeffrey Amherst, encouraged soldiers to "Put to death all that fall into your hands") and deception (the soldiers at Fort Pitt spread smallpox among the Delawares by presenting them with a "gift"—infected blankets from the hospital nearby). Their tactics weakened the Indians and forced Pontiac to capitulate Fort Detroit on October 31, 1763.

With the end of Pontiac's war, the fight for control over the North American empire east of the Mississippi was officially over, though small battles with the Indians continued for years. Their fear of "foreigners", both French and Indian, subsided, the British turned their attention to the colonies. Having spent so much time, money, men to keep the colonies, England was now determined to keep the colonies in line and make them as profitable as possible. To ensure that they attained these goals, the British gave up their longstanding policy of salutary neglect, and instituted harsh policies and high taxes for the colonials. England's harsh treatment of the colony's after 1763 had precisely the opposite of its desired result: instead of making the colony's profitable, it made them increasingly angry, and eventually ed to another uprising—the Revolutionary War, which exploded just thirteen years later.

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