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Seven Years' War: lesson overview

A summary of the key events, people, and concepts related to the Seven Year's War.
Conflict between the French and the English over territory, led to a conflict known as the Seven Years’ War. The Seven Years’ War solidified Britain’s stance as the most dominant European country in the world. However, as Britain attempted to increase control on the American colonies, colonists began rebelling, eventually leading to the Revolutionary War.

Key terms

Seven Years War (1754-1763)Sometimes called the French and Indian War, it was a conflict between France and Britain, in which the Algonquins sided with the French and the Iroquois sided with the British and the colonists.
Albany Plan of Union (1754)A plan created by Benjamin Franklin to organize an intercolonial government, including a system to collect taxes and recruit troops.
Treaty of Paris (1763)Treaty ending the Seven Years War, in which French ceded much of its North American territory to the British
Pontiac’s uprising (1763)A force of 300 members of different Native American tribes led by Chief Pontiac attempted to stop British encroachment on their territory in an armed rebellion.
Proclamation of 1763A law passed by the British parliament that prohibited colonial movements west of the Appalachian Mountains.

North America before and after the Seven Years' War

Map of North America, depicting European claims of North America before and after the Seven Years’ War. Image credit: College Board

Core historical themes

Competition between European powers: After tobacco prices started to remain stagnant, plantation owners in Virginia wanted to move west into the Ohio River Valley to produce more tobacco and hopefully drive prices of that cash crop up. However, both Britain and France claimed ownership of the lands in the Ohio River Valley. The conflict between the two lead to the start of the Seven Years’ War.
Cooperation with Natives: Both the French and the British cooperated with Native Americans to use their forces in the Seven Years’ War. The French allied with the Hurons, whereas the British allied with the Iroquois. These alliances caused tension after the war in which the British began siding with Native Americans who were against colonial interest to move westward.
Migration after the war: When the Seven Years’ War ended, the British won all of France’s land holdings in colonial America. Colonists wanted to expand westward into these new lands in order to gain more land, but fearing conflicts with Native Americans, Britain passed the Proclamation of 1763. The proclamation prohibited movement west of the Appalachian Mountains, upsetting many colonists who wanted the land to increase their wealth. Thousands of colonists defied the law, moving west to claim land for themselves.

Review questions

  • What are some of the ways in which the British monarchy reacted to colonists continuing to disobey British laws?
  • How did Britain’s status as a world power change after the Seven Years’ War?
  • What are three ways in which the Seven Years’ War altered the political and economic relationships between the Britain and the American colonies?

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