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1688-1789 - Later Bourbon French Colonies

Under the two last Stuarts England had been practically the vassal of France, but after the Revolution in 1688 there was no longer any check upon the jealous hatred with which the two nations viewed each other. Their long conflict which lasted from 1688 to 1815 found its most serious meaning in commercial rivalry in remoter parts of the world and especially in India and America.

Count Frontenac became Governor of Canada in 1672 and is undoubtedly the most striking figure among all the French governors, trained in the imperious school of Louis XIV. It was under Frontenac that the English and French first engaged seriously in the struggle for supremacy that was to end in the expulsion of Fiance from the North American continent. Frontenac was a watchful foe of English expansion. He tried to arouse the Indians against them. He planned to occupy for France the points of vantage upon the St. Lawrence, the Great Lakes, the Ohio and the Mississippi. He attacked the English colonies and, had he been supported from France, might have taken Boston and New York. The English were driven from Hudson Bay. Louis XIV, however, was apathetic about distant Canada and the influence ofthe Church was against Frontenac. In 1696, he was ordered, in effect, to abandon the posts in the interior. In 1697 France made peace with England and restored what she had won in the colonies.

Frontenac died in 1698 having apparently failed. His policy, however, soon triumphed. His successor made peace in 1701 with the Iroquois who cease henceforth to be formidable; the posts in the interior instead of being abandoned were strengthened; immigration began anew and New France passed out of the mission stage forever. The year 1713 was a dark one for French colonial development. Louis XIV., exhausted by a renewed war, made peace at Utrecht on humiliating terms. France surrendered her claims to Hudson Bay, to Newfoundland,and to Nova Scotia, which then passed finally into the possession of Great Britain. France retained, however, the Island of Cape Breton and also what is now Prince Edward Island. Further struggle was inevitable and to be ready for it she built on Cape Breton at huge expense, Louisbourg, a fortress that became the strongest military post in to North America. It commanded the St. Lawrence, menaced the English colonies, and served as a port of refuge for French commerce in the North Atlantic. At the same time France was grasping the whole interior of the continent. A French fort stood sentinel at the mouth of the Mississippi. By 1720 there were French traders as far west as the present Province of Manitoba and twenty years later the Canadian La VeYendrye had made his way across the continent to the Rocky Mountains. On the Ohio and Mississippi a line of French posts was planned to complete a continuous chain from Quebec to Louisiana.

In 1750 there was fighting on the Nova Scotia frontier and in other quarters France and England stood arrayed against each other in a time of nominal peace. The French were establishing military posts on the Ohio and the colonies of Virginia and Pennsylvania were profoundly interested in checking a French advance that should prevent English expansion westward. George Washington, a young Virginia colonel of militia, sent out with a party of observation, came into conflict with a French force near the site of the present city of Pittsburgh. There was bloodshed, and Great Britain, still in a time of nominal peace, sent out to America a strong force of regular soldiers under Braddock to drive the French from the Ohio valley. Advancing through Virginia to attack the French fort, called DuQuesne after the Governor of Canada, Braddock fell into an ambush and was killed with many of his force.

The declaration of war, inevitable after such events, came in 1756. In Nova Scotia the English were alarmed lest the Acadians should join the side of France and the Governor, Lawrence, determined to send these unfortunate people out of the country. They were seized at various points and crowded into transports. Ultimately, however, a large number of the deported Acadians found their way back to Nova Scotia or to Canada. The British slowly advanced. The French were forced to abandon the post on the Ohio that had cost the English so much. On a September day in 1759, Wolfe fought before Quebec that brief battle in which both he and the French leader Montcalm lost their lives. A few days later the British flag waved over Quebec.

The Treaty of Paris of 1763 confirmed the British conquests and France lost her footing in North America. The regret of the aborigines for France's loss was seen in the cruel border warfare waged for a time against the English under the Indian Chief, Pontiac.

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Page last modified: 03-04-2012 19:45:15 ZULU