In the 17th century, France attempted to colonize new regions in the world in order to expand their influence. Jacques Cartier was the force behind the expeditions in 1534; he claimed the Chaleur Bay for his country, France. Further, the prominent sailor in his several trips conquered St. Lawrence River. In these new regions, France found new trade partners in fur and fish.
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In the 17th century, France began the colonization process of this new region; it referred to this region as ‘New France’. In 1608, Samuel de Champlain acquired a governmental sponsorship to reside in this region and conduct land surveys (Delmar par. 2). During this time, local inhabitants lacked farming and survival skills. This reason coupled with severe winters posed immense challenges to the French commoner in conquering Port Royal in Acadia.
Later, with the support of a commercial group in France, he succeeded in building three two-story houses, which had fifteen feet wide ditches for fortification purposes. Champlain and his men ensured the security of the colony by outsourcing for help from the friendly tribes in India. The colony’s future became insusceptible with the arrival of ships carrying supplies from France.
Louis Hebert became the first settler in Canada; he built a house on a cliff, where he began to cultivate the land. By 1627, more than 100 Frenchmen had settled in Quebec. They focused on trade and colonising as many areas as possible. They went ahead and colonised England which led to imprisonment of some Frenchmen as they were defeated in battle by the inhabitants in 1628 (“New France” par. 6).
The Frenchmen were released from prison and around six families settled back in their earlier colonised area of Quebec. In 1623, Samuel de Champlain became the first governor of Quebec. In 1635, the Chaplain died, and Sieur de Montmagny took over the reign.
The feudal law of France allowed the governor to grant seigneurs estates; hence, priests and nuns settled in some estates. The colony granted estates to Entrepreneur farmers. The colony encouraged them to employ peasant in their farms and business premises.
Harsh climatic conditions at Quebec made activities of the early settlers unsuccessful as some of them died. Louis XIV put his priority on security, due to the increased population of the inhabitants (“Short History – The Fur Trade Era, 1650s to 1850s” par. 5). Notably, men’s population became more than that of unmarried women.
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The year 1663 is exceptionally significant as it is the year that New France became a crowned colony thereby making Quebec a Royal Province. Initial commercial interests were in charge of Quebec were replaced with royal governors. A strategy of strengthening the colony made the kings daughters move to the New France. The New France aimed at becoming an independent colony without getting military and economic support from France.
On the other hand, France and England captured the republic of Dutch. The French government was required to provide financial resources to the colony. According to France, sponsoring emigrants were more expensive and unnecessary; this made New France to depend on the marriageable women among its daughters. In the early 18th century, France had expanded its territory towards North America causing a rise in population to 6,700 in 1673.
Consequently, the country became wealthy due to the profits from the merchants of trade. This enabled it to build a vast and powerful empire towards Mississippi and western part of the Great Lake. France expansion led to war in Europe and especially with Britain; each fought for more colonies. The hostility between these two nations subdued with the signing of the Utrecht Treaty.
However, in 1734, war erupted between France and England and ended in 1748 after signing yet another treaty (Delmar par. 3). In 1756, France went into war against England and Prussia; they received immense support from Austria. New France was defeated by the English navy; the English controlled the Quebec City in 1759.
In 1760, Montreal surrendered making the war end with signing of Paris Treaty in 1763. According to the terms of the treaty, France surrendered Canada to Britain and instead claimed over the Caribbean island. In addition, France surrendered all her earlier claim in North America.
New France had missionaries and fur traders as the early inhabitants. Local Indians could barter all the furs they had to the French. So lucrative was this business in North America that the local inhabitants promised to bring more fur in return for French alcohol and other precious jewellery products. With little information about the interior of North America, the French left the intermediary role with the interior tribes to the Algonquians and the Hurons.
Their arrival started in 1615; they came to spread Catholicism among the pagan souls. In 1627, Cardinal Richelieu formed the Compagnie des Cent-Associés; this company was to help in colonizing and controlling the area by taking advantage of the lucrative fur trade in New France (“Short History – The Fur Trade Era, 1650s to 1850s” par 8).
The fewer number of Europeans that were living in Quebec at the time prompted Champlain to form this company; it had trade leaders as its key partners. The company was to monopolize fur trade and other trades in the entire New France for the next 15 years. Notably, the company was to bring new settlers to the colony from France. In addition, Compagnie des Cent-Associés was to offer support to the colonists and provide residing places for priests.
In 1628, Kirke Brothers intercepted settlers who were heading to the new colony at the mouth of St. Lawrence. These Brothers conquered and preserved this area for England; this move led to series of conflicts among the colonizers. This move led to a fierce war between the Kirkes and the French settlers (“New France” par. 3).
In 1632, the provisions in the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye forced England to surrender St. Lawrence back to France. Later, Champlain returned to New France to continue defending the new colony. He received meagre support from the French soldiers in securing New France
The image of France continued to change due to the numerous fur trappers and traders. The French frontiersmen represented their native land in North America. These travellers were driven by the limited nature of beaver pelt. Markedly, furs were in high demand in entire Europe due to their social distinction and protection against foreign elements. Early fur trading companies in North America flopped.
This scenario impelled the French to alter their tact in New France from royal to corporate. The Europeans could obtain animal skins and firearms in exchange for fur that was highly produced by the Indian coolies. The introduction of alcohol in the Indian society angered the missionaries who felt that their mission was at risk (Carlos and Lewis par. 4).
The French individuals had peaceful relations with the Indians in the trading front and hunting grounds. The French citizens did not cause population pressure on the Indian’s hunting grounds. The missionaries also infiltrated into this region in order to convert the inhabitants to Christianity. They met different challenges like torture, hostility, and execution in their bid to convert the Indians.
Fur trading overtook fishing as the main activity. It even made the missionaries engage in the trade, an act that the priests opposed passionately. French alcohol also found its way into the market. This trade brought many white explorers into Wisconsin. They were majorly interested in the trading activities at the expense of spiritualism. There emerged stiff competition between commerce and spirituality in 1700.
In the end, those who opposed the trade expelled; this made French soldiers along the trading routes to be powerful for the entire 18th century. Trade in fur was the epicenter of Wisconsin’s economy between 1645 and 1845.
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In 1670, the British Kingdom granted a charter to the Hudson Bay Company; this enabled them to expand their presence and influence along the coastline of New France. Later, Jay’s Treaty of 1764 altered the trading routes along Mississippi to the American Fur Company. This treaty described the boundaries of North America. The fur trade was a transatlantic trade since it involved North America and Europe.
There was a high demand for fur during this time in Europe. For instance, for centuries, people considered hats, a finished product of fur, as a compulsory part of the dressing. During this period, North America exported beaver to France and other European nations (Carlos and Lewis par. 6).
The launch of the North American trade expanded the market for the European nations as many products could get their way into this region. In addition, it increased both the provision of alternative subset skins and the supply of skins to the local industries. Fur trade became the key driver of the North American economy between the 17th and 18th centuries. New France became the epicenter of the trade as they had the highest quality fur.
Carlos, Ann, and Frank Lewis. The Economic History of the Fur Trade: 1670 to 1870. EH.Net | Economic History Services. EH.Net – Economic History Services, 2010. Web.
Delmar, Judith. New France: Historical Background in Brief: Delmars.com. Delmars.com, 2011. Web.
New France. United States American History. N.p., n.d. Web.
Short History – The Fur Trade Era, 1650s to 1850s. Wisconsin Historical Society. Wisconsin Historical Society, n.d. Web.