The Seven Years War proved to be a crossroads in the history of British colonial rule in America. Britain was victorious, but after defeating her French foes (along with their Indian allies), Britain was left to contemplate the ramifications of a war that would leave her relationship with her American colonies altered forever. This change would eventually lead to conflict between the colonies and Britain, and ultimately the Declaration of American Independence.
In order to understand how the relationship between Britain and the American Colonies became so strained, we must first examine the nature of Britain's imperial authority. Economic relations between the two entities were governed by Navigation Acts and trade Acts. These Acts existed for the express purpose of maximizing profits for Britain with regards to her colonies in North America. They served to completely control colonial trade, and in the process stifled some sectors of the colonial economy. To Britain's dismay, many colonists openly flouted these regulations during the Seven Years War, largely because of Britain's preoccupation with the ongoing hostilities. After the war it became clear the extent to which some colonists had openly flouted the Trade and Navigation Acts. This was doubly insulting for Britain because of the perceived sacrifices made by Britain during the war in terms of material and men, all spent to keep the colonies (and colonists) out of French hands. The colonists, on the other hand, had become more economically prosperous and decidedly less dependent in the process. Self-reliance was a commodity that was little known in colonial America before the war, and now that the colonists had had a taste of it, they were understandably slow to relinquish it. The seeds of conflict had been planted.
There was another by-product of the war for Britain; her national debt more than doubled during the course of the conflict. At a time when Britain was starting to bend beneath the weight of...
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