The Downfall of New France

Topics: New France, French and Indian War, Quebec City Pages: 7 (2604 words) Published: September 1, 2013
During the 1400s the continent of North America was discovered by numerous different explorers, such as Giovanni Caboto, Columbus, and Jacques Cartier. This set off a great race for the ownership of this new continent, and France and England would fight over the country known as Canada. New France was first established by Jacques Cartier in 1534. While Montcalm deserves much of the blame for the loss of Quebec in 1759, New France, in fact, was destined to fall because of the policies and approaches that had been taken since the earliest foundations of the colony. The mercantilist standpoint of Jean-Baptist Colbert was also a large benefactor to the downfall of New France. This policy crippled New France and constricted its growth economically, militarily and population wise. The unnecessary expansion to the west also constricted the colonies growth as it meant that the population of the colonies could not grow well since men would run off into the woods. This also spread New France over a vast indefensible area of land. Montcalm is to be blamed for losing the ultimate and last battle for New France, the siege of Quebec in 1759, having been outwitted by Wolfe and beaten on the Plains of Abraham. Montcalm was guaranteed that defeat as he had made several strategic mistakes that cost him the battle.

While the downfall of New France was largely attributed to Montcalm’s failure at Quebec, early French approaches to the policies in New France also impaired the colonies military effectiveness and economical standpoint in North America. Jean Talon, the Intendant of New France during the reign of Louis XIV from 1665–1672 wanted New France to become a powerful state but the response given to him by Jean-Baptist Colbert, the Minister of Marine and Colonies, was as follow’s “The King cannot concur with you [Jean Talon] in the whole of your reasoning as to the means of rendering Canada a great and powerful State, perceiving many obstacles thereto which cannot be overcome except by a long lapse of time;”[1]With this Colbert literally stated that France does not want New France to become strong and independent or they would not lose their hold over the colony in North America. This meant a long period of struggle for the colony in North America since they received only small amounts of help from France, at any given time. Even at the siege of Quebec Talon was told by a messenger of Colbert "When the house is on fire, who worries about the stable?"[2] ,another indication that France was not too concerned about its Colony in North America

The next big blow to New France's economic struggle was the implementation of a mercantilist system that crippled New France’s industrial growth as it was not allowed to have any secondary industries and had to buy all of its mechanical items or other earthly goods from the mother country. Colbert wrote in a letter to Talon “It is equally important to prevent every type of trade between the inhabitants of Canada and the English, since the latter could only supply them with merchandise that they would otherwise obtain from France...”[3] Even though Colbert had encouraged the construction of ships in New France, the Industry was never able to get a proper standing as it had to acquire all instruments, mechanics and labored parts from France, which was an inefficient and extremely time-consuming process as each way took about two months to complete.

Historian Eccles also talks about this issue with mercantilism. He States that the Colony of New France was constricted by the mercantilist policy as it did not allow New France to build any secondary industries, and so it was unable to create a stable economy in North America and was largely dependant on France for supplies.[4] This meant that New France could not train its own professional soldiers, nor could it manufacture new weapons and ammunition, this meant any reinforcements had to be sent from France and usually that was not a large...


Bibliography: • Bennett, Paul W., and Cornelius J. Jaenen. Emerging identities: selected problems and interpretations in Canadian history. Scarborough, Ont.: Prentice-Hall Canada, 1986.
• Careless, James Maurice Stockford. Canada: a story of challenge. Toronto: McMillan of Canada ;, 1974.
• Costain, Thomas B.. The white and the gold; the French regime in Canada.. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1954.
• Desmond, Morton, and Beverly Tallon. "The Fight for Quebec." The Beaver 88, no. 1 (2008): 36.
• Eccles, W. J.. The Canadian frontier, 1534-1760. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969.
• MacKirdy, Kenneth Alexander, John S. Moir, and Yves F. Zoltvany. Changing perspectives in Canadian history, selected problems. Rev. ed. Don Mills, Ont.: J.M. Dent & Sons (Canada) Ltd., 1971.
• Munro, William Bennett. Crusaders of New France: a chronicle of the fleur-de-lis in the wilderness. Roosevelt ed. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1921.
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[1] MacKirdy, Kenneth Alexander, John S. Moir, and Yves F. Zoltvany. Changing perspectives in Canadian history, selected problems . Rev. ed. Don Mills, Ont.: J.M. Dent & Sons (Canada) Ltd., 1971. P.4
[2] Desmond, Morton, and Beverly Tallon
[3] Bennett, Paul W., and Cornelius J. Jaenen. Emerging identities: selected problems and interpretations in Canadian history. Scarborough, Ont.: Prentice-Hall Canada, 1986. P.10
[4] Eccles, W
[5] Careless, James Maurice Stockford. Canada: a story of challenge. Toronto: McMillan of Canada ;, 1974. P. 31
[6] Eccles, W
[10] Costain, Thomas B.. The white and the gold; the French regime in Canada.. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1954. P. 299
[11] Desmond, Morton, and Beverly Tallon
[18] Parkman, Francis. Montcalm and Wolfe, the decline and fall of the French empire in North America. Toronto: The Crowell-Collier Publishing Company, 1962.
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