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The French and Indian WarBegun in 1756 British declared war on France, but instead of fighting in Europe, decided to fight in New World. William Pitt was the new Prime Minister, and used credit to bolster English power. Jeffrey Amhearst and James Wolfe selected to lead the war in North America.Captured Fort Louisbourg in 1758. Yet key to French downfall was Quebec. Wolfe’s troops scaled cliffs and fought pitched battle forvictory at cost of his own life.
The Treaty of Paris in 1763 brought end to war, and double size of British Empire. France left North America and gave all their territory to England or Spain!Only downside, was the enormous national debt (130,000,000 £). Also natives at mercy of the English and they were forced to abide by the treaty which they had no input into. They were now dependent upon the metal trade goods of the Europeans, so had no choice but to agree.Managing a New EmpireEveryone happy for end of war, but some storm clouds:1)Colonists gaining and want independence from Britain.2)Colonists looking forward to westward expansion.3)Repelled by harsh life of British soldiers and seamen.Colonies 2.5 million by 1776. 60% aged 21 or younger.Not just English, but French, Dutch, German, Indian, African, felons, etc…High levels of prosperity but unevenly divided.South very prosperous with or without slaves.New England lagged, except for the merchants.With death of George II, George III became King and decided to createhis own political followers; Tories vs. Whigs (Court vs Country).King awarded positions based on how much he liked you, and took them away just as quickly. Created HUGE inconsistencies in government performance.Pontiac’s Rebellion
London officials postponed westward to appease the Indians. Colonists miffed, and later outraged as King issued Royal Proclamation of 1763 to keep settlers east of Appalachians.Accumulated huge English War Debt from 7 Years’ War.½ annual budget went to pay interest alone!Yet King George kept largest standing army intact, at a huge cost.1)To help protect Indians from Settlers.2)Preserve order in the territories.Colonies doubted value of large army. Not enough left to protect frontier. As evidenced by Pontiac’s War and attack on Detroit. Colonists fought back and used any excuse to attack Indians. Regulating the ColoniesGrenville realized Molasses Act of 1733 was not being enforced. Thought might devastate Colonial Economy, so passed Revenue Act of1764 known as Sugar Act.Reduced duty on molasses by half. Basically tried to make smuggling less profitable than legal trade.Sugar Act worked well, so decided to try Stamp Actin 1765. Would require special seals (watermarks) on all legal documents or papers used for mass distribution, like newspapers, pamphlets, journals, calendars and even playing cards!