French and Indian War, (1754-63), a struggle between France and Great Britain for control of North America. The climax was the Battle of Quebec (1759) by which Britain gained control of Canada. At the start of this war young George Washington, then a British subject and an officer in the Virginia militia, gained experience that later helped him as commander in chief of the Continental troops against Great Britain.
The French and Indian War was so named because Indian tribes fought as allies of the French. It was the American phase of a general struggle known in Europe as the Seven Years' War. It is also called the Fourth Intercolonial War, the three others being King William's War (1689-97), Queen Anne's War (1702-13), and King George's War (1744-48). The four wars are also known as the French and Indian Wars.
The immediate cause of the French and Indian War was the British policy of ousting the French from the upper Ohio River valley. The French wanted this region because it would link their possessions from Canada to Louisiana. They planned a series of forts as connecting links. French control impeded British aims to expand westward. English merchants and Virginia planters, including George Washington's brother, Lawrence, formed the Ohio Company in 1749 to settle the Ohio area.The Treaty of Paris in 1763 allowed colonial expansion to the Mississippi River.
The war started in 1754 when Lieutenant Governor Robert Dinwiddie of Virginia sent George Washington with a militia force to protect a fort Dinwiddie had ordered built, on the site of present-day Pittsburgh. But the French had already taken this site to build Fort Duquesne. Washington's men built an earthworks fortification, which they called Fort Necessity, near the site of what is now Uniontown, but they were forced to surrender by superior French forces. In 1755 the French also defeated forces under General Edward Braddock near Fort Duquesne.
Under General James Abercromby, the British were badly beaten at Ticonderoga (1758). But a series of British victories followed. On Fort Duquesne's site the British built Fort Pitt. Louisbourg fell to Jeffrey Amherst (1758) and Niagara to Sir William Johnson (1759). Rangers led by Robert Rogers also gained land from the French.
In 1759 British and colonial soldiers under General James Wolfe decisively defeated at Quebec French forces under the Marquis de Montcalm de Saint-Vran. Montreal fell to General Amherst in 1760, and the French gave up Canada. By the Treaty of Paris, 1763, they also gave Britain the Ohio area and that part of Louisiana east of the Mississippi (except for New Orleans).