The Battle for America: The French and Indian War
Monday, August 17, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET
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In all the centuries of wars fought between the European superpowers before 1740, North America had never been more than a sideshow. But in the 1750s all that changed as it took center stage in the world’s first truly global war, one so massive that it spanned five continents: from India to Indiana, from the Caribbean to Canada, from Buenos Aires to Belgium, and from Pennsylvania to the Philippines.
In Europe and nearly everywhere else, this bitter contest among the great empires of Britain, France, and Spain is known as the Seven Years War (1756–1763). Here in the United States we call it the French and Indian War.
Richard Bell, associate professor of history at the University of Maryland, College Park, focuses attention on the parts of this global conflict that took place on American soil. He tracks the shifting fortunes of the several European forces, as well as their native Indian and colonial American allies. He examines the peace treaty that Britain and France finally signed in 1763 to bring this destructive war to an end, a treaty that surrendered French Canada to the British and forced the French out of North America.
He also examines the peculiar legacy of American colonists’ involvement: how their participation reinforced a sense of themselves as essential partners in the British Empire, but also sowed the seeds of the imperial crisis that would culminate just 20 years later in American independence.
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This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.