Key facts and important details about the French and Indian War for kids doing research and students studying for the AP U.S. History (APUSH) exam.
The French and Indian War (1754–1763) was the final military contest between Great Britain and France to determine which country would control most of eastern North America. The previous conflicts were:
- King William’s War (1689–1697)
- Queen Anne’s War (1702–1713)
- King George’s War (1740–1748)
The French and Indian War was part of a worldwide contest for empire between Britain, France, Spain, and other European nations, known as the Seven Years’ War.
In North America, the British and French clashed because France wanted to maintain its fur-trading empire in Canada and the Ohio Country, while British colonists coveted the same area for westward expansion.
The name of the French and Indian War refers to Britain’s two main enemies, the French forces in North America, and their Native American Indian allies.
In 1752, the Marquis Duquesne was made Governor-General of New France with specific instructions to take possession of the Ohio Valley, removing all British presence from the area.
The French and Indian War began in 1754 near Fort Duquesne, a French fort that was built at the Forks of the Ohio River, where present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is located.
Washington and his men, along with Indian allies led by a warrior known as the Half-King, won the first engagement of the French and Indian War, which is known as the Battle of Jumonville Glen. After the fighting, a French diplomat, Ensign Joseph Coulon de Villiers, Sieur de Jumonville, was murdered by Half-King.
The French retaliated against Washington at a makeshift fort called Fort Necessity. The fort was located at Great Meadows, about 60 miles from Pittsburgh. Washington knew he could not win, so he proceeded to negotiate with the French they forced him to sign Articles of Capitulation. In doing so, he unknowingly admitted to assassinating Ensign Jumonville.
After the Battle of Fort Necessity, Washington left the Ohio Country on July 4, 1754. When he was gone, it left the French in command of the entire region west of the Appalachian Mountains.
Some historians consider the Battle of Jumonville Glen and the Battle of Fort Necessity to be the start of the French and Indian War.
The French were outraged over Washington’s admission and some pressed for a declaration of war against Britain.
The French and Indian War did not officially begin until Great Britain declared war on France in 1756, which also started the Seven Years’ War.
The last major fighting in the French and Indian War resulted in the fall of Montreal on September 8, 1760.
Although the French and Indian War in North America ended in 1760 a peace treaty was not signed until the end of the Seven Years’ War in Europe in 1763.
The Treaty of Paris in 1763 virtually expelled France from eastern North America and left Great Britain in control of a vast empire inhabited by hostile Natives and coveted by American colonists eager for westward expansion.