Why Was the French and Indian War Fought?

The French and Indian War, an extension of the Seven Years War in Europe, was fought over land claims. Beginning with a dispute between British and French colonists over the Ohio River Valley, it became a struggle for all the North American territories east of the Mississippi.

In 1756, because of French incursions into the Ohio River Valley, Great Britain declared war on France. Although England had more colonists in North America, France formed various alliances with Native Americans. In the early stages of the war, the British had a number of setbacks. However, William Pitt, the British prime minister, helped to fund the war effort, hiring Prussians to fight in Europe and the colonists to fight in the New World. In 1758 and 1759, the British won major victories, and the French were forced to leave Canada. Although Spain entered the war on the side of France, it was not able to prevent ultimate British victory.

On Feb. 10, 1763, Great Britain, France and Spain signed the Treaty of Paris, which gave Great Britain all the North American mainland east of the Mississippi, including French Canada and Spanish Florida. France was allowed to keep the two Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe and the islands of Miquelon and San Pierre in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Spanish regained Cuba from the British and received New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana from the French.