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Days that changed America: Quebec (1759)

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Many Americans enjoyed being part of the British Empire. The British established their first North American colony in 1607. Over the next century and a half, Britain competed with France over global empire. That struggle led to a series of wars beginning in the late seventeenth century. The European wars for North America ended at Quebec in 1759. Afterward, many Americans felt they no longer needed the British for protection and being part of the empire was a burden as opposed to a benefit. As a result, the British victory in Quebec provided the launching point for the American Revolution.

The final struggle for North America began in 1754 outside modern Pittsburgh. The conflict erupted into a global war two years later. The French and Indian War, or Seven Years' War, culminated at Quebec in 1759. The British and French struggled on some land owned by a farmer named Abraham Martin outside the city walls. As a result, some have dubbed it the "Battle of the Plains of Abraham."

The battle ended with Biblical finality. The British concluded a three-month siege with a 15 minute flurry. Both commanding generals died in that quarter hour adding to the quasi religious overtones. When the guns silenced, the British won a decisive victory. The two sides finalized a peace treaty in 1763.

The British assumed control of Canada in the treaty. France lost most of its colonies and suffered a humiliating defeat. Meanwhile, the American colonies celebrated the victory. North America served as the primary theater during the French and Indian War. As a result, Americans lived on the front lines. The British victory cleared the French threat from their front yards.

The jubilation ended rather quickly. Britain quickly passed a number of laws that angered the colonists. The Proclamation of 1763 forbade colonists from moving west of the Appalachians in order to preserve the peace with Native Americans. Additionally, parliament faced a massive war debt and reasonably expected the Americans colonists to assist in paying for their own defense. At this point, many began to question British intentions. They opposed the taxes, restrictions on movement, and regulations on commerce. Without the French threat, Americans began to think of independence. France's exit from North America opened the door to revolution. The colonists did not need British soldiers to protect them any longer. In fact, British soldiers became viewed as oppressive stormtroopers in some circles. In others, they simply added competition for jobs.

Over the dozen years between the treaty ending the war and Lexington and Concord, relations between the colonies and the British government deteriorated. Americans refused to pay taxes or take orders from London. They resented parliamentary actions impacting the colonies. Eventually, they no longer needed the extra layer of government and revolted.

The Battle of Quebec ended nearly a century of conflict between Britain and France over colonial possessions. The French defeat eliminated a threat to American colonists. Without the French threat, Americans began to think they could govern themselves. In the end, the British victory brought the beginning of the end of the American colonial era.

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