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The Americas

North American Colonial Settlements


French Colonies in the Americas (New France)
AD 1541 - 1763
Incorporating Acadia & Canada

France experienced uncertain beginnings when it came to settling the New World. Between 1534 and 1542, Jacques Cartier made three voyages across the Atlantic to visit the St Lawrence River in the Americas, claiming the land for King Francis I. Even so, initial settlement in what would become New France (Nouvelle France) - centred on Quebec in modern Canada - was hesitant and not entirely successful. Life there could be harsh for Western European settlers, with brutally cold winters.

Two serious attempts were undertaken in 1541 and 1598, the first being Cartier's own, brief go at the process of establishing a permanent colony which turned out to be a failure. Following conflict with local Iroquois people and failed attempts to exploit the natural resources there, he returned to France. The second attempt took root.

In 1604 settlers established the colony of Acadia on land surrounding the Gulf of St Lawrence. At the height of French colonialism in the Americas this would include areas of eastern Quebec, the coastal territories, and claims to New England as far as Philadelphia, although these became increasingly impractical in the face of English expansion there.

Four years later, explorer Samuel de Champlain established the city of Québec farther inland, which became the largest city in the colony of Canada (modern eastern and central Canada). Louisiana was the third area of settlement (a vast territory stretching across much of the east half of modern midwestern USA, most of which was remained for a long time almost exclusively the domain of Native North American tribes or a few French traders).

Although Cartier's attempts at creating a colony may have failed, he did have one lasting impact on the region. He heard two captured guides speak the Iroquoian word 'kanata', meaning 'village'. By the 1550s, the name 'Canada' began appearing on maps. Although it was initially used for only one area of settlement, following the British capture of New France in 1763 it eventually came to be the universal name for all of the territory to the north of New England.

While each of the subsequent French provinces had its own governor, the lieutenant-general of New France, who was usually the most senior of the governors, was the ultimate authority in the colonies. He answered directly to France between 1603-1627. After 1627 a permanent governor was appointed. By then the colonies had grown large enough and were in serious danger of being overwhelmed by hostile native forces. They needed someone with overall authority who was not half a world away.

Buffalo on the North American plains, by Dave Fitzpatrick

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Mick Baker, from Indian Tribes of the New England Frontier (Osprey No 428 Men-at-Arms Series), Michael Johnson, from Everyday Life of the North American Indian, Jon Manchip White (1979), from The Encyclopaedia of North American Indian Tribes, Bill Yenne (1986), from The Native Tribes of North America - A Concise Encyclopaedia, Michael Johnson (1993), from the Atlas of Indians of North America, Gilbert Legay (1995), and from External Links: First Nations: Issues of Consequence, Lee Sultzman, and Legends of America, and Discover Canada - Canada's History (Government of Canada), and The story of New France (National Geographic), and Village Historique Acadien.)

1522 - 1524

King Francis I of France is persuaded by the Italian explorer, Giovanni da Verrazzano, to allow an expedition to find a western route to China. At this time (and for a considerable period afterwards) it is believed that there is a land bridge between America and China. Instead, in 1524, Verrazzano explores the coast of what is now South Carolina and North Carolina, and then heads north to become the first European to explore the region of later New York.

Early colonial settlement in New France
New France eventually consisted of five colonies which covered a massive swathe of North America, stretching from Hudson Bay in the north to the Gulf of Mexico in the south

Here he makes contact with a people who are most likely to be the Lenape, who refer to the strangers from across the sea as the 'Swannuken', the 'salt water people'. They are friendly and curious and would probably have remained so but Verrazzano tries to kidnap some of them before he departs. During the next eighty years, most of the coastal Algonquian speakers learn the hard way to beware the European ships which occasionally stop to raid their villages for slaves.


As a friend of the king of France, Francis I, corsair and adventurer Jean-François de la Roque de Roberval is appointed the first lieutenant-governor of New France, after being commissioned by the king to settle the province of Canada.

An advance party under Jacques Cartier arrives in 1541 and founds a settlement at Charlesbourg-Royal, while Roberval arrives in 1542 and meets the departing Cartier off the coast of Newfoundland. Roberval continues onwards and resettles Charlesbourg-Royal.

The initial French settlement of Charlesbourg-Royal survived for just two years and was abandoned twice even in that period - a much more suitable settlement quickly replaced it

1541 - 1543

Jean-François de la Roque de Roberval

First lieutenant-general of New France. Died 1560.


The post of lieutenant-general falls vacant when the resettled colony of Charlesbourg-Royal is abandoned for a second time. The colony has survived for less than two years due to the region's severe weather (extremely cold winters especially), disease, and attacks by the local tribe of Iroquois.

1564 - 1565

The French create their first colony in south-eastern North America when they found Fort Caroline in Florida. The Spanish, who are hotly contesting any form of European settlement in the region other than their own, destroy it the following year.


Trading posts are being established in several parts of the territory which soon becomes Acadia, but generally these fail as permanent settlements. Despite this, a new lieutenant-governor is appointed to administer the region.

Acadia historical village
Acadia was settled by French citizens from the end of the sixteenth century until their large-scale expulsion in 1754 for failing to declare loyalty to their more recent British masters (reconstruction at Village Historique Acadien)

1598 - 1603

Marquis de la Roche-Mesgouez

Viceroy of New France. Died 1606.

1602 - 1603

Amar Chaste

Admiral and viceroy of New France. Died in office.


Pierre Dugua is granted exclusive rights to colonise lands in North America, expanding the various settlements which collectively form Acadia. The following year, a new settlement is founded on the modern Bay of Fundy: Ile-Saint-Croix. Just a year later it is moved to Port Royal.

1603 - 1610

Pierre Dugua de Mons

Lieutenant-general of New France. Died 1628.

1608 - 1609

Just a year after Port Royal is abandoned, Quebec City is founded when three ships land from France at Tadoussac and their occupants proceed up river in boats to the site which they start fortifying. Samuel de Champlain, the eventual first governor of New France (in 1627) commands one of the ships.

The following year, while striving to improve relations with the local native tribes after years of European slave raiding, Champlain and his small group of explorers encounter the Iroquois. The Europeans drive them off after killing their leaders, and the tone has been set for future Franco-Iroquois relations.

In the same year, Champlain enters the territory which now forms Vermont (just across the modern Canadian border in north-eastern USA), on 30 July, claiming it for New France and constructing a fort which is the first European settlement there.

Port Royal national historic site
Port Royal national historic site recreates part of the early New France colony of the same name

1611 - 1612

Charles de Bourbon

First cousin of King Henry IV of France. Died in office.

1611 - 1615

From the French settlement at Quebec on the St Lawrence River, Étienne Brulé visits the Huron villages on Georgian Bay in 1611. By 1615 he discovers that the Susquehannock are more than willing to ally themselves to the French and Huron in their war against the Iroquois league. Friendly relations with the Susquehannock are particularly valuable to the French, not only for the purposes of trade, but because they serve to trap the Iroquois between two powerful enemies.

Unfortunately, the new alliance alarms the New Amsterdam traders on the Hudson River, and they actively support the Mohawk against the Susquehannock. Although they are relatively few in number and isolated by their inland location, the Susquehannock manage to become an important trading partner with all of the competing European powers - an achievement unmatched by any other tribe.

1612 - 1613

Henry II

Prince of Condé. Second in line to the throne.


Port Royal, within the territory of Acadia, which had been re-established in 1610 on the northern side of the Annapolis Basin in what is now Nova Scotia, is destroyed by British troops. The surviving settlers move off to neighbouring areas to create new settlements within Acadia. One of these, eight kilometres upstream and on the south bank of the Annapolis River, becomes today's Annapolis Royal, the later capital of Acadia.

Coronation of James I
The coronation of James I of England and Scotland in 1603 took place just as the joint kingdoms were starting to have a greater influence on colonial affairs in North America


Étienne Brûlé leads an expedition into the territory which will become Michigan, but the first permanent settlement is not made until 1668, at Sault Sainte-Marie. Also during this century, French fur traders begin to enter into the territory which will later form Minnesota. In the same year, the Province of Maine (the far north-eastern corner of the modern USA) is founded as part of the British Colonies, its name perhaps originating from the French province of the same name to the north.

Governors of New France
AD 1627 - 1663

The French-governed territories of New France initially focussed on creating a colony in what would become Quebec in modern Canada. Results were patchy at first, with a failure in 1541 which had to be replicated in 1598. Soon, though, colonisation was underway, with overall command being in the hands of the lieutenant-general, who was usually the most senior of the governors. He answered directly to France between 1603-1627. In 1627, Richelieu (he of the Musketeers infamy) founded the 'Company of One Hundred Associates' to provide investment into New France. Land parcels were promised to hundreds of new settlers while New France was also being turned into an important mercantile and farming colony.

Samuel de Champlain was placed in office as the first permanent governor of New France and, in line with his policy of driving out the Huguenots from France itself, Richelieu forbade non-Roman Catholics from living there. Protestants were required to renounce their faith prior to settling in New France so many of them chose instead to settle in the British Colonies. The position of governor in New France was the equivalent of a viceroyalty. The governor answered directly to the king's ministers in France, and controlled the territories of Acadia, early Canada (not to be confused with the vastly bigger modern nation state of the same name), and Louisiana, although Acadia and Louisiana had their own regional governors. The capital was in Quebec City. It was this post which was later taken over by the British and survives today as the office of governor-general of Canada.

Buffalo on the North American plains, by Dave Fitzpatrick

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Mick Baker, from The Encyclopaedia of North American Indian Tribes, Bill Yenne (1986), from The Native Tribes of North America - A Concise Encyclopaedia, Michael Johnson (1993), from the Atlas of Indians of North America, Gilbert Legay (1995), from Colonial America to 1763 (Almanacs of American Life), Thomas L Purvis & Richard Balkin, and from External Links: First Nations: Issues of Consequence, Lee Sultzman, and Legends of America, and Maps of United States Indians by State, and The story of New France: the cradle of modern Canada (National Geographic), and the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.)

1627 - 1635

Samuel de Champlain

First governor of New France. Founded Quebec City. Died.

1629 - 1633

Champlain is captured in an English attack and taken to London. The English have only recently begun to raid into the St Lawrence valley but in the same attack in 1629 the settlement at Quebec is ruined and held by the English until 1632.

Warships of the English Civil War
English warships of the mid-seventeenth century, with ninety of them mustered in Plymouth Sound in 1625 (with the kind permission of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Library of Toronto)

When Champlain is able to return in 1633 he sets about rebuilding it. He also sets about attacking the Iroquois, intent on bringing them to heel. Their numbers are so high in comparison to the tiny population of colonists that the French are in danger of being overwhelmed.


Frenchman Jean Nicolet is the first European to explore what is now Wisconsin. He founds the Green Bay colony, which is settled mainly by fur traders. At Samuel de Champlain's request, Sieur de Laviolette founds another trading post - at Trois-Rivières.

1635 - 1648

Charles de Montmagny

Died 1657.

1641 - 1645

FeatureThe Iroquois Wars begin, otherwise known as the Beaver Wars (see feature link). Having exhausted the beaver in their homeland, the Iroquois are running out of the fur they need to trade for firearms from New Netherland. Otherwise, with European epidemics decimating their villages, it is only a matter of time before they are annihilated. Their enemies, of course, are well-aware of this problem and refuse permission for Iroquois hunters to pass through their territories.

Faced with a blockade, the Iroquois are forced into a war in which they need either to conquer or to be destroyed. They concentrate their attacks on the Huron after 1640, and by 1645 had succeeded in isolating them from the Algonquin, Montagnais, and New France in the east. There follows a two-year lull in the fighting after the Trois-Rivières truce which is agreed in 1645 thanks to the governor of New France, Charles de Montmagny.

1648 - 1651

Louis d'Ailleboust de Coulonge

Previously acting governor of Montreal.

1648 - 1650

The Iroquois launch massive attacks into the Huron homeland and destroy the Arendaronon villages. Sensing that the situation is becoming serious, Susquehannock warriors fight as Huron allies, while their ambassadors send to the Iroquois council flatly demanding a halt to the war.

Map of the Susquehannock AD 1600
The Susquehannock territories were centred around the river which bore their name, but extended far to the east, towards Lake Erie where they abutted the generally peaceful Erie people and north to the Iroquois nations, who certainly were not peaceful (click or tap on map to view full sized)

1648 - 1650

In 1648 Governor Louis d'Ailleboust de Coulonge also strives to prevent the Iroquois massacre of the Huron people, which is partially in retribution for the latter becoming allied to the French. The attempts fail, and in the winter of 1648-1649, for some inexplicable reason, the Huron refuse further offers of help from the Susquehannock and are overrun by the Iroquois. Only small numbers of Huron survive the massacre.

1651 - 1657

Jean de Lauzon

Agreed peace with the Mohawk. Died 1666 in France.

1650 - 1653

The Iroquois begin to launch attacks against the French, terrifying the French colonists with their ferocious and blood-thirsty warfare tactics. Whatever help the Susquehannock may be able to give to the Neutrals is cut short when the Mohawk attack the Susquehannock villages.

With the Susquehannock unable, and the Erie unwilling to help, the Neutrals are quickly defeated. The Mohawk, however, find the well-armed Susquehannock a dangerous and stubborn foe. The war drags on until 1656 with the Mohawk (at great cost to themselves) slowly pushing the Susquehannock down the eastern branch of the Susquehanna River.

Iroquois warriors rest outside a British fort
The Iroquois were the staunchest opponent of the Susquehannock - two strong tribal groupings vying for supremacy in the same general area, and one side had to lose

The Susquehannock suddenly find themselves alone. New France is powerless to help after Iroquois victories over the Huron and Neutrals, and the Erie soon face their own war of survival against the Western Iroquois (during 1653-1656). However, Governor Lauzon negotiates successfully with the Mohawk, agreeing a peace treaty which removes one of the more major threats to the colony.

1657 - 1658

Louis d'Ailleboust de Coulonge

Returned as acting governor. Died childless in 1660.

1658 - 1661

Pierre de Voyer d'Argenson

Son of a diplomat. Died 1709?

1660 - 1669

In May an Iroquois force of one hundred and sixty warriors attacks Montreal and captures seventeen colonists. Following other such raids, the French retaliate with a small military force made up of French, Huron, and Great Lakes Algonquin to counter the Iroquois raids - there are heavy casualties on both sides.

The Iroquois strike the Delaware throughout the Delaware Valley and throughout the 1660s, effectively taking them out of the war. For the Susquehannock, the worst blow is a smallpox epidemic which strikes in 1661. Their population is devastated to a point from which it never recovers.

A treaty is signed with the British Colony of Maryland, ending the lingering hostility with the English. The agreement provides firearms and ammunition, since the Maryland colonists are well aware of the value of the Susquehannock as a buffer against the New Netherland-allied Iroquois.

Iroquoian speakers
Try as they may to retain the old ways of living in the woodlands of Maryland and Virginia, Iroquoian speakers were gradually being forcibly 'civilised' by their European neighbours

In 1663, with English help, the Susquehannock are able to turn back a major Iroquois invasion. In the following year the English take New York from the Dutch, and shortly afterwards form their own alliance with the Iroquois. In 1666 Maryland, however, does not feel entirely assured by this and renews its treaty with the Susquehannock.

The year 1667 coincides with another outbreak of smallpox, so the Iroquois make peace with New France and their native allies and this allows them to concentrate on their war with the Susquehannock. With the support of Maryland, the Susquehannock fight on in an increasingly bitter struggle, but by autumn 1669 they are down to only three hundred warriors and are forced to ask the Iroquois for peace. The Iroquois response to their offer is to torture and kill the Susquehannock ambassador who delivers it.

1661 - 1663

Pierre Dubois d'Avaugour

Related to the Brittany dukes of Penthièvre ( Vannes).


Given the fear and turmoil caused by the Beaver Wars, it is not surprising that the French government of Louis XIV reorganises the colonies. The duties of the governorship are divided and the more important military responsibilities are retained by the new position of governor-general the first of whom, Augustin de Saffray de Mésy, is the son of Pierre Dubois d'Avaugour.

Governors General of New France
AD 1663 - 1763

The explorer Jacques Cartier made three voyages across the Atlantic between 1534 and 1542. The land he discovered in North America (largely focussing on the Quebec region of modern Canada) was claimed for King Francis I of France. Cartier heard two captured guides speak the Iroquoian word 'kanata', meaning 'village'. By the 1550s, the name 'Canada' had begun appearing on maps.

Early French attempts to create a colony were somewhat patchy, much like their English equivalents to the south, but the second major attempt, of 1598, took root. Each of the subsequent French provinces had its own governor, but the lieutenant-general of New France was the ultimate authority in the colonies, answering directly to France between 1603-1627. After 1627 a permanent governor was appointed, although change was enforced on that office by 1663.

The Iroquois Wars, otherwise known as the Beaver Wars, changed things for the European colonies in the New World. France began losing control of the vast rural swathes of its claimed territory. After two decades of sometimes extremely violent warfare between the Native Americans which sometimes also engulfed French settlements and even saw Montreal under attack at one point (1660), the old governorship was divided in 1663. The current king, Louis XIV, took over the administration of New France from the Compagnie des Cent-Associés and created a more militaristic upper rank of government.

Responsibility for finance, justice, and the police was handed to a new position, the intendant. Control over diplomatic relations and military affairs was given to the new governor-general, who held office in Quebec City. Professional soldiers were sent to the colony in the 1660s to fight the Iroquois, adopting a scorched earth policy in order to starve then out.

At about the same time, the Dutch, who had been useful allies of the Iroquois, found themselves evicted from New Netherland by the English of the British Colonies. Together, those two events gave the French the upper hand in North America for the first time. At the point of starvation the Iroquois sued for peace and suddenly a much greater focus could be placed on halting English northwards expansion.

During the century of its existence, the governate-general of New France saw French territory reach its greatest extent, stretching from Newfoundland to the Gulf of Mexico via the vast Louisiana territory, much of which would later be divided up to form the American Midwest. However, France was unable to better the tactics being used by Britain to become the superior coloniser in North America, and French interest faded sharply after its costly defeat of 1763.

Buffalo on the North American plains, by Dave Fitzpatrick

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Mick Baker, from The Encyclopaedia of North American Indian Tribes, Bill Yenne (1986), from The Native Tribes of North America - A Concise Encyclopaedia, Michael Johnson (1993), from the Atlas of Indians of North America, Gilbert Legay (1995), from Colonial America to 1763 (Almanacs of American Life), Thomas L Purvis & Richard Balkin, and from External Links: First Nations: Issues of Consequence, Lee Sultzman, and Legends of America, and Maps of United States Indians by State, and The story of New France: the cradle of modern Canada (National Geographic), and the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.)

1663 - 1665

Augustin de Saffray de Mésy

First governor general of New France. Died in office.

1665 - 1672

Daniel de Rémy de Courcelle

Established militias to defend New France. Died 1698.

1665 - 1672

Daniel de Rémy de Courcelle establishes the first militias in New France, which will become an essential element in the wars against the English. In 1666, five hundred French led by de Courcelle invade the Iroquois homeland in present day New York state.

René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle ('Lord of the Manor'), explored the Great Lakes, the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico in 1669-1670, and claimed the entire Mississippi basin for New France

However, the French are greatly outnumbered and are forced to retreat. A second French invasion of 1,300 men led by Alexandre de Prouville, the 'Marquis de Tracy' and viceroy of New France, destroys Mohawk villages and crops. The Mohawk are forced to sue for peace.

In 1667 the Native Americans suffer a renewed outbreak of smallpox, so the Iroquois make peace with New France and their native allies and this allows them to concentrate on their war with the Susquehannock. With the support of the British Colony of Maryland, the Susquehannock fight on in an increasingly bitter struggle, but by autumn 1669 they are down to only three hundred warriors and are forced to ask the Iroquois for peace.

De Courcelle, though, is able to negotiate with several of the native tribes to secure the French colonies some peace, and approves an expedition to the west in order to find the long-sought after land passage to China.


Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet travel along the Mississippi, documenting the native villagers. They are the first Europeans to enter the region, much of which is organised into the vast Louisiana territory, although the river will later become a border between Louisiana and the British Colonies.

Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower
Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower - little did they realise what horrors awaited them on the coast of the New World (Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-USZ61-206)

1672 - 1682

Louis de Buade de Frontenac

Expanded fur trade. Recalled. Died 1698.

1682 - 1685

Joseph-Antoine de La Barre

Lawyer. Led disastrous governor-generalship. Recalled.

1683 - 1698

FeatureWar between the Iroquois and New France is resumed due to the French encroaching on their fur trade - the Iroquois Wars, otherwise known as the Beaver Wars (see link, right). Violent conflict erupts against the French, with them supported by their Indian allies and the Iroquois launching sporadic raids against both. It takes the Iroquois until 1698 before they realise that they are the scapegoat in what is essentially an English-inspired war and they immediately sue for peace.

1685 - 1689

Jacques-Rene de Brisay de Denonville

Successful campaigner but suffered Iroquois reprisals.


Denonville arrives with intentions of having a great effect on the colony for the glory of France at the opening of the First French-Indian War. The colony has been continually hampered in its efforts to expand by the hostile attentions of the Iroquois, so after capturing English fur trader posts on Hudson Bay he marches against them, captures their leaders to be shipped to France as slaves, and lays waste to the lands of the Seneca.

The Beaver Wars of North America
As soon as the Beaver War began to hot up, the Dutch began to supply the Mohawk with as many guns as they wanted, along with the ammunition, turning them into the seventeenth century native equivalent of a super-power - albeit a very short-lived super-power

Retribution is swift, with the Iroquois destroying farms and burning towns. The violence ends with the Massacre of Lachine in which the town of that name is burned to the ground. Twenty-four colonists are killed and another hundred or so are captured, many of them to be burned alive and even eaten. Louis de Buade, comte de Frontenac is selected by the king to regain control in the beleaguered colony, and for a while he does, until ships from the British Colonies in New England arrive in 1690.

1689 - 1698

Louis de Buade de Frontenac

Second term. Took steps to restore peace.


Due to the threat of French encroachment from Louisiana, New Spain establishes its first presence in Texas, although these early missions quickly fail. King William's War (1690-1697) sees Acadia captured by the English, but it is returned as part of the peace settlement.

1698 - 1703

Louis-Hector de Callière

Former governor of Montreal (1684-1698). Died in office.


A colony is founded at Fort Maurepas, which is also known as Old Biloxi (and is now Ocean Springs in the state of Mississippi), the first colony to be founded in this territory.

1702 - 1713

The first European settlement in what will become Alabama is founded by the French at Mobile. In the same year, 1702, Acadia is recaptured by the British during Queen Anne's War and this time it remains in British hands, as confirmed by the Treaties of Utrecht in 1713, becoming part of the British Colonies territory of Nova Scotia. New France itself is split into five colonies which each have their own administrative bodies: Acadia, Canada, Hudson Bay, Louisiana, and Newfoundland.

One of the earliest Spanish areas of exploration in North America, Louisiana provided more of a challenge than had New Spain, with native groups proving quite hostile and New France eager to dominate there

Simultaneously, the Second French-Indian War kicks off in 1702 with the New England Raids against the Abnaki. The Battle of Deerfield or Deerfield Massacre on 29 February 1704 involves a force which is comprised of Abnaki, Kanienkehaka, Pocumtuc, and Wyandot, led by a small contingent of French-Canadian militia. They sack the town of Deerfield, Massachusetts, killing fifty-six civilians and taking dozens more as captives.

1703 - 1725

Philippe de Rigaud de Vaudreuil

Former governor of Montreal (1699-1703). Died in office.


New missions are established by New Spain in Texas to create a buffer zone between it and the French possession of Louisiana. These are followed in 1718 by the first European settlement in Texas, at San Antonio.

1726 - 1747

Charles de la Boische de Beauharnois

Blamed for the fall of Fortress Louisbourg (1745). Recalled.


The French-Canadian trader, Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye, enters the territory which will become North Dakota with an exploration party which reaches the Mandan villages in the region. During this period, trading posts are also being set up in what is now Ohio and New France lays claim to what is now Oklahoma.

1744 - 1748

The War of the Austrian Succession is a wide-ranging conflict which encompasses the North American King George's War, two Silesian Wars, and the War of Jenkins' Ear, and involves most of the crowned heads of Europe in deciding the question of whether Maria Theresa can succeed as archduke of Austria and, perhaps even more importantly, as Holy Roman Emperor.

Quebec in 1700
By the start of the eighteenth century, French Quebec was a thriving colonial city, the focus of colonial attempts to create a powerful new state in North America

Austria is supported by Britain, the Netherlands, the Savoyard kingdom of Sardinia, and Saxony (after an early switchover), but opposed by an opportunistic Prussia and France, who had raised the question in the first place to disrupt Habsburg control of Central Europe, backed up by Bavaria and Sweden (briefly). Spain joins the war in an unsuccessful attempt to restore possessions lost to Austria in 1715.

The War of Jenkins' Ear pitches Britain against Spain between 1739-1748. The Russo-Swedish War, or Hats' Russian War, is the Swedish attempt to regain territory lost to Russia in 1741-1743. King George's War is fought between Britain and France in the French Colonies in 1744-1748. The First Carnatic War of 1746-1748 involves the struggle for dominance in India by France and Britain.

Henry Pelham, leader of the English government in Parliament, is successful in ending the war, achieving peace with France and trade with Spain through the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. Austria is ultimately successful, losing only Silesia to Prussia.

1747 - 1749

Roland-Michel Barrin de La Galissonière

Related by marriage to Jean de Lauzon (1651). Died 1756.

1747 - 1749

Plans in the British Colonies for opening the area to settlement get underway in 1747 when Virginia grants a charter to the Ohio Company. Pennsylvania considers the Ohio tribes to be subject to the Iroquois, but when they refuse the league's orders to return to the Susquehanna, it is obvious that something needs to be done.

King George's War
King George's War was just one phase in a complicated power struggle between Britain and France for control of North America, and also for political and military dominance in Europe, and the native Americans were forced to take sides in the struggle

No longer able to ignore the defection of their 'women', in 1749 the Iroquois create a system of half-kings (special Iroquois emissaries) to represent the Ohio tribes (who number 10,000 by this time) in their councils.

This seems to satisfy the Delaware and Shawnee and, when Pierre-Joseph Céloron de Blainville leads a French expedition to the Ohio River in 1749 to expel British traders, he marks out the boundary of French territory with lead plates. His reception is unfriendly, with the Ohio tribes demanding to know by what right the French are claiming Iroquois land.

1749 - 1752

Jacques-Pierre de Taffanel

Strengthened New France against British. Died in office.


By this time, settlers from New France have drifted from the east side of the Mississippi into the area of what is now St Genevieve in the state of Missouri. St Louis is subsequently founded as the centre of the regional fur trade.

1752 - 1755

Michel-Ange Duquesne de Menneville

Founded Fort Duquesne. Died 1778.


With traders of the British Colonies subverting the loyalty of their allies, and the Delaware, Mingo, and Shawnee defying its authority, New France decides to militarily enforce its claims to Ohio. It turns first to the Detroit tribes (Ojibwa, Ottawa, Potawatomi, and Wyandot), usually its most dependable allies, but the tribes are thinking of trading with the British themselves and do not want to fight the Ohio tribes.

In June, Charles Langlade, a French-Ojibwe of mixed blood, leads a war party of 250 Ojibwa and Ottawa from Mackinac and destroys the Miami village and British trading post at Piqua, Ohio.

Logstown expedition 1749
As shown by this modern image, a French expedition visited Logstown in 1749 (location of the eponymous 1752 treaty), under the command of Pierre-Joseph Celeron de Blainville

Following the initial shock of this attack, the tribes of the French alliance fall into place, and the French follow up their success by building a line of forts across western Pennsylvania to block British access to Ohio. Most Delaware and Shawnee have no desire to be controlled by the French and therefore turn to the Iroquois for help.

From the Iroquois perspective, the French and British seem like two thieves fighting over their land, but they decide that the French are the more immediate threat. The league signs the Logstown Treaty, which reconfirms their 1744 cession of land and gives the British permission to build a blockhouse at Pittsburgh. Before it is finished however, the French burn it.

1754 - 1757

In May a conference is held at Albany between representatives of the British Colonies and Iroquois League to prepare for war with New France. Unable to defend Ohio, the Iroquois cede it to Pennsylvania, but they fully intend to keep the Wyoming and Susquehanna valleys.

Unfortunately, an Albany trader manages to get some of the minor Iroquois representatives drunk, and when they sober up they discover that they have signed an agreement with a Connecticut land company which opens up the valleys to settlement.

Rather than achieve unity, the conference ends with the Iroquois furious with the British about this treaty, Pennsylvania protesting Connecticut's attempt to claim its territory, and the Delaware threatening to kill any whites who try to settle in the Wyoming Valley.

Meanwhile, Virginia has decided to act on its own and sends an expedition commanded by a twenty-two year-old militia major named George Washington to demand the surrender of Fort Duquesne, the new fort built by the French at Pittsburgh. Major Washington gets himself into a fight with French soldiers and starts a French-Indian war.

British capture of Fortress Louisbourg in 1745
The capture of Fortress Louisbourg by the British in 1745 was a good indicator of the way things were developing as far as French interests in North America were concerned, although a final British victory was far from certain

The Fourth French-Indian War erupts, starting with the Battle of Great Meadows. Two more battles are fought in 1754, these being Fort Necessity and Braddock's Defeat, with Crown Point (Lake George) taking place in 1755 against the Mohawk and the Caughnawaga who are led by Hendrick, while in earlier battles the Mingo people are led by Half-King. In 1756, during which the Seven Years' War is launched (until 1763), Oswego is the only battle to take place.

In 1757 the siege of Fort William Henry involves the Upper Great Lakes Indians - generally Iroquois, Ottawa, and Abnaki from French Canada. When the fort's red-coated British and blue-coated troops of the British Colonies are forced to surrender after days of bombardment, they are offered all the honours of war. The French General Montcalm allows them to march back to Fort Edward with their weapons and possessions intact. His native allies have other ideas, however.

After rampaging through the fort to kill and scalp the wounded and dig up corpses for the same treatment, they charge into the assembled body of retreating British and massacre between seventy and one hundred and eighty of them. Colonel Munro and various other scattered survivors eventually reach the protection of Fort Edward (the massacre is portrayed with brutal realism in the 1992 film, Last of the Mohicans, although Munro is killed in this version).

1755 - 1760

Pierre François de Rigaud

Son of Philippe (1703). Formerly in Louisiana. Last governor.

1758 - 1763

The year 1758 sees battles take place at Louisburg and Fort Frontenac with little native involvement. In 1759 General James Wolfe claims New France for the British Colonies with victory over the French in the Battle of Quebec. In 1763, France cedes the vast and wild Louisiana territory (stretching from modern Louisiana to Canada) to Spain where it forms part of New Spain (excluding southern Alabama which is appended to British West Florida).

Proclamation of 1763
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 has long been debated by historians in reference to its influence on the later revolutionary war, but it was a genuine attempt to respect the territorial rights of the native Americans following the conclusion of the French-American War

1763 - 1803

New France itself is formally handed over to Britain and is renamed the province of Quebec, which in 1791 becomes part of Canada. In 1800 the now-republican French take back the Louisiana territory under the terms of the Treaty of San Iidefonso. On 30 April 1803, Napoleon Bonaparte, first citizen of France, sells Louisiana to the United States for eighty million francs. This marks the end of French involvement in North America, although France is responsible for creating the short-lived Second Mexican empire in 1864.

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