Effects of the French and Indian War

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By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Feb 4, 2012

Effects of the French and Indian War

The French and Indian War had a number of important effects on events that would happen in the near future. First, the threat of any western attack by the French had been removed. Second, the war increased hostility and bad feeling between the British and the colonists—particularly within the military. Third, defeating France—a major military power—gave the American troops confidence and experience. Fourth, the war helped to establish bonds among troops from different colonies, while demonstrating the need for a regular American army. Fifth, George Washington gained valuable command experience and rose to prominence throughout the colonies. Last, Britain ended the war hugely in debt.

Although Washington was commander in chief of the American forces, the British officers had treated him with contempt throughout the war. These experienced generals may have resented Washington because he was young; they may have distrusted him because he was American; they may have held aloof simply because he was a stranger. To Washington, it appeared that the British did not think of him or the Colonial soldiers as fellow countrymen. Deciding that there was nothing he could profitably accomplish against these odds of distrust and contempt, Washington resigned from the army in 1759.

Before the war, colonists had tended to think of Virginia, New York, or Rhode Island as their “country.” The war proved a unifying force in Colonial society by bringing together men from different colonies against a common enemy. This fostered a feeling of comradeship and made men and boys from the various colonies begin to view one another as friends and fellow country- men—to develop a common American identity.

None of the colonies had a standing army; all American troops in the French and Indian War were volunteers. As volunteers, they assumed certain privileges that no regular troops would ever have: desertion and disobedience. Since they were not paid to fight, soldiers deserted whenever they felt they were needed at home. They were also liable to refuse to obey any orders with which they disagreed, feeling that their own opinions were as good as those of their leaders. Under these circumstances, Washington had found command an exhausting task that challenged all of his ingenuity. Probably nothing but his great personal popularity and the respect his men felt for him held the volunteers together.

Britain had spent thousands of pounds transporting, equipping, supplying, and paying troops during the war, and was now faced with an enormous war debt. In the end, Parliament decided that since the war had been fought in part on behalf of the colonists, the colonists should bear some of the costs.

Practice questions for these concepts can be found at:

The French and Indian War Practice Test

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