Britain and France claimed control over vast areas of the North American continent. Britain primarily controlled the seaboard as France looked further inland. Both countries soon began to dispute who controls where, as their colonial boundaries and claims fell into disagreement.
These disagreements ultimately marked the start of the French and Indian War. In particular, British colonists undertook an unsuccessful attempt to seize a French fort at the forks of the Ohio River in 1754. Britain then began its campaign against the French and their allies for control over inland regions of North America.
Britain saw the need and opportunity to unify their colonies in their war against the Native American and French forces. They had to get the colonists to come together and defend their territory and claims as a unified front.
Converging in Albany, New York, colonial leaders from several colonies met to discuss their potential unified front. Benjamin Franklin led the discussion, proposing what is known as the Albany Plan of Union for creating a council of colonial leaders to help dictate the war. It failed to gain colonial approval, and Britain faltered in the first stage of the war.
In 1758, British forces began to overwhelm the French and Native American forces. With this, the Iroquois switched their allegiance to the British, and began fighting against the French. In 1759, Britain invaded New France and captured the city of Quebec, a major turning point in the war.
With the fall of Quebec and further victories, Great Britain, France, and Spain (France’s ally) met to sign the Treaty of Paris in 1763, effectively ending the French and Indian War. France agreed to surrender all of its North American claims, as well as its land east of the Mississippi. Britain had won the war and achieved its aims.
Despite the victory, the war greatly strained relations between the British and the colonists. They had fought hard, and did so in loyalty to the British Empire. Through war, they had helped the British achieve their colonial aims in defeating France.
The British saw themselves as protectors of the colonists, as though colonists had not done enough. The colonists, on the other hand, were shocked at how weak the British military was. Furthermore, the colonists felt as though it was now their right to expand into the newly acquired territories and prosper. The British, however, felt differently.