America: 1763-1776

History
Summary

The Colonies and Mother Country at the Close of the French and Indian War

Summary The Colonies and Mother Country at the Close of the French and Indian War

Commentary

The conflict between British and colonial soldiers was indicative of the evolving attitudes of the two regions toward one another. The colonies began to associate all things British with arrogance and condescension, and the British viewed Americans as inept, irresponsible, and primitive. The colonial units in the war were involved primarily in support roles, providing reserve forces in battles and holding British forts. This way, the more highly trained British professionals could lead the offensive against the French. Despite their separation of duties, the troops interacted often enough to decide that they disliked each other, and each side registered frequent complaints about the other.

The conflict of soldiers and civilians highlighted a major complaint of the colonists throughout the period of time leading up to the revolution. The colonists were perpetually wary of British meddling in colonial affairs, and saw the military as the primary on-site actors in this effort. Fearing the installation of standing armies, the colonies, throughout their histories, had been reluctant to supply and house British troops. During the French and Indian War this reluctance caused King George and the Parliament to question the loyalty of some colonies and led the British government to commit even more strongly to keeping a strong British hand in colonial business.

The issue of taxation was one that would drive a wedge between the colonies and their mother country from this time until the end of the revolution. In Britain, citizens were forced to pay exorbitant taxes on land and traded goods in order to support Britain's skyrocketing debt. These citizens looked across the ocean to see the colonists not pulling anywhere close to equal weight, even though the colonists had been the primary beneficiaries of the war. Colonists continued to assert their freedom from taxation and reminded British rulers that they had not called for the war. Still, even though many Americans went through hard times because of the collapse of the wartime boom, the colonists could not deny the facts. The colonial debt totaled 2 million pounds to Britain's 132 million. In fact, just the interest charges on Britain's debt cost the empire 4 million pounds per year. Still, the colonists railed against taxation.

Emerging after the war was a new dynamic in Anglo-American relations. The British sought to control their colonial possessions more tightly, and sent greater numbers of officials to America, imposed regulations on trade, and restricted territorial expansion to this effect. The colonies, on the other hand, wished to be free to govern themselves, to trade as they desired, and to expand into the West. The French and Indian war was hailed as a victory for Britain in its attempt to control its colonies, but the conditions immediately after the war's close set the stage for a widening rift rather than the maintenance of affable relations.

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