The North American version of the Seven Years' War was the French and Indian War. And yes, it did set the stage for the American Revolution for at least three reasons:
- It provided a casus belli. The French and Indian War cost a lot of money, which the British tried to recoup by taxing the "Americans" of the Thirteen Colonies. The result was a battle cry of "no taxation without representation."
- It provided "grist for the mill." The Americans got a taste of fighting (and victory), and decided to test their wings against the mother country. The war also helped train a number of highly capable American officers, including William Prescott (Bunker Hill), Daniel Morgan (Saratoga and Cowpens), and above all, George Washington. A number of foreign officers schooled in the Seven Years' War, such as Baron Friedrich von Steuben, Baron Johan (Jean) deKalb, and John Peter Muhlenburg also officered the American armies.
- It set the stage for a favorable "reversal of alliances." The French and Indian War had pitted them against the British and the Americans. The American Revolution pitted the British, (and some Indians), against the Americans, French, and some French allies such as Spain and the Netherlands.
There is an unobvious connection pointed out by Tarle: Before the Seven Years War the major threat for the colonists was the French in Canada who could conceivably mount an invasion and conquer the colonies (who hardly relished the prospect). The only sure protection against that was Britain. Once Britain had vanquished France and removed the ever-present threat of external invasion, it itself became the colonists' biggest problem.
Think of it as a Maslow-pyramid thing.
Where I differ from Tarle's analysis is that I don't think it was pre-determined from that point that the colonies should become independent. A touch of Burkean magnanimity and Britain might have kept America. But let's stop there, I am sliding into counterfactuals.
In Kevin Phillips' The Cousin's Wars he puts a slightly different spin on the influence of the Seven Years' War on the Revolution. After some false starts, the British Army and the Colonials achieved a relation of working together to win the war...the Army would ask the colonies for money, or supplies or troops directly to the legislatures and they would figure out the hows and whys and get it done. They assumed this responsible acting on their part would be rewarded by its continuation going forward.
Hence when Parliament, who was not involved in any of this, rejected this notion and started cutting out the Colonial Legislatures as middlemen with the finance bills, the powerful Colonials who made up these groups hit the ceiling. As a means of making money, these bills and taxes were trivial - as everyone has noted at the time and since. But they were very effective at signalling that the English legislature was going to deny powerful Colonials any say in how their part of the world would be run, which was very short sighted on their part. The two sides continued to talk past each other for the next few decades until the point of revolution was reached.
protected by Tom Au Jan 15 '16 at 15:14
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