Results of the French and Indian War

The French and Indian or Seven Years War left Britain with pressing financial problems. Victory in the War had given Britain Canada, Spanish Florida and the Native American lands east of the Mississippi. In addition to these lands, the British had twenty-two smaller colonies ruled by Royal Governors in the West Indies and elsewhere. British national debt almost doubled to pay for the war and there still were 10,000 British troops in the colonies. Money was needed to pay for their expense. Britain had to re-think how it was going to govern and pay for its far-flung possessions.

The colonists had already contributed both soldiers and materials to the war effort, but the British government felt that now they should also contribute to paying for the cost of continued defense and greater administration of the colonies. Many British leaders felt that there was no other way to pay for these expenses than to tax the colonists. The colonists did not object to contributing to the cost of their defense, but, with the French no longer present, they did not see the need for British troops to remain in the colonies. They maintained (and paid for) colonial militias to defend themselves from Indian attack. They also felt, if they were going to be taxed by Parliament, they should be represented in it.

Even though they fought on the same side, the French and Indian War did not bring the British and Americans closer together. British troops remained in the colonies, which the colonists resented. British troops looked down their noses at the colonials. They regarded them as crude and lacking culture. The pious New Englanders found the British redcoats to be profane and the presence and attitude of the aristocratic British officers disturbed the colonists. The colonists also saw their presence as a threat to the liberties they had enjoyed since their first settlements. Americans blamed Britain for many of their problems and felt their own governments were better suited to both govern and defend the colonies. With the War behind it, Parliament intended to show colonists that they ruled the colonies. In 1765, the colonists still considered themselves as loyal subjects of Britain, with the same historic rights and obligations as Englishmen. But 160 years after the founding of Jamestown and a practice of “salutary neglect”, tension between the colonies and Britain was going to rapidly increase.