The French and English Responses to the Indians

In the early 1600s, England and France set up colonies in North America. During this period, the French established a colony in Quebec and the English inaugurated a colony in Jamestown. As the French and

English colonists expanded their colonies, each encountered American Indians. During the colonial period, there were many economic and cultural responses to the Indians from both the French and the English.

The English had many economic and cultural responses to the Indians. First, the English had various economic responses to the Indians. In 1607, the first English colonists settled in Jamestown, Virginia for purely economic purposes. Unlike the French, little or no trade occurred between the English and Indians, instead the English colonists based their economy almost entirely on agriculture. In the first colonies, the English settlers learned and mastered from the Indians the plantation of tobacco, which was highly demanded, making it a very remunerative plant. The problem with tobacco plantation is that it “butchered” the soil. This caused the colonists to desire more land, which they acquired from the Indians by force. Wars with Indians annihilated full tribes and made some of them extinct. For example, the Anglo-Powhatan War resulted in the extinction of the Powhatan tribe. In addition to economic responses, the English had numerous cultural responses. The first interracial marriage took place in Jamestown between John Rolfe and Pocahantas. In New England, passionate and strict Puritans introduced Christianity to the Indians, which some of them adopted. In Pennsylvania, the Quakers established a multiethnic and coexistent society with the Indians. These were a few English economic and cultural responses to the Indians.

The English colonists were not the only ones to have economic and cultural responses; the French also had those too. The French had many economic responses to the Indians. In 1608, Samuel de Champlain established a French colony in Quebec for the purpose of empirical expansion, honor, and glory of France. When Samuel de Champlain arrived to Quebec, he entered a friendly relation with a nearby Huron Indian tribe. At their request, he joined them in battle against their adversary, the federated Iroquois tribes in upper New York. To shots from the white men’s “lightning stick” and the Iroquois were defeated. After gaining the Indians’ trust, the French established the opulent and lucrative fur trade with the Indians. In 1693, an Indian flotilla composed of four hundred canoes arrived in Montreal with an immense amount of beaver fur. In Illinois, Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and Vicennes became the “bread basket” of New France. Superfluous amounts of grain from Illinois were exported to Europe. These were some of the French economic responses to the Indians.

Besides economic responses, the French had cultural responses as well. Since the French and the Indians were allied, many interracial marriages happened between them. Moreover, French Catholic missionaries, especially the Jesuits, tried zealously to convert the Indians, but they were not very successful. Although their attempts were scorned and they suffered from torture on Indian hands, they managed to make a few permanent converts. This could have created a new and organized society.

In conclusion, these were the many economic and cultural responses to the Indians from both the French and the English. Because of these cultural and economic responses, the Indians allied with France against the English in many wars such as King William’s War, Queen Anne’s War and the French and Indian War. These cultural and economic responses to the Indians greatly affected the French and the British during the duel for North America.

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