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The French & Indian War

The French & Indian War

William Pitt in The French & Indian War

William Pitt (1708-1778) was British secretary of state during the French and Indian War and later served as Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Named secretary of state in 1757, Pitt resolved to commit whatever resources were necessary to defeat the French in North America and on the European continent. He provided generous funding to Prussia, Britain's ally in the Seven Years' War, for troops to tie down French forces in Europe. He also funded the expansion of provincial militias in North America. By the summer of 1758, the British had 50,000 men in uniform in North America, serving as British regulars or in colonial provincial regiments—a number equal to the entire white population of New France. Pitt resigned in 1761 when the king refused to pursue a more complete defeat of France or to declare war against Spain.

Pitt's policies led to British success in the French and Indian War. But they also left Britain with a tremendous debt, and a larger empire to administer. During the ensuing controversies between Britain and its America colonies, Pitt sympathized with the Americans, especially in their opposition to the Stamp Act. But as Prime Minister (1766-68) he was unsuccessful in crafting a policy that could reconcile the ambitions of Britain and America.

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