French Colonization

France started attempts at establishing settlements and colonies in the Americas in the 16th century. These attempts began along the eastern regions of North America as well as in the south.

The basic purpose of the French colonies in North America was to exploit the fur, sugar and fish trade for mercantile purposes.

Beginning of French Colonization

The French colonization in the Americas began in the 16th century. Many of the initial attempts to establish settlements or forts were met with failure or disaster.

Eventually, some of the French colonies succeeded, especially in the northeastern regions of North America. Notable among these were the colonies of Acadia, Louisiana, Newfoundland, Canada and Ile Royale.

French Colony of Acadia

The French arrived in the region of Acadia around 1604. At the time, the Native American tribe of Mikmaq lived in the region.

The French were able to peacefully coexist with the Mikmaq and established a fur trade in the region. Despite several attempts from the Dutch, Scottish and English, the French were able to retain the possession of the colony of Acadia.

In the early 18th century, the British laid siege to the capital of Acadia, Port Royal. This brought a significant portion of Acadia under British control although the rest of it remained contested territory. In the 1760s, Britain won the French and Indian War. This brought the entire Acadia under British control.

French Colony of Louisiana

By the mid 17th century, French colonists were firmly established in the present-day Canada. From there, they started expanding into American Midwest and East towards the late 17th century.

A group of French explorers established the colony of Louisiana in 1682. French explorations continued southward so that the French were able to establish many forts from the Great Lakes region all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

The End of French Colonization in Louisiana

In 1762, the French and Indian War against British presence in Americas met failure. Britain achieved decisive victory in the war and took over many of the French colonies in modern-day Canada. This also threatened the status of the French colony of Louisiana.

By the end of the war in 1763, France had ceded the Louisiana territory to Britain and Spain. The territory once again came under the control of the British in 1800. But then in 1803, French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte sold Louisiana to the newly-born USA in the famous Louisiana Purchase.

French Florida

French explorers also established a settlement towards the south of modern-day USA. This became known as French Florida. The settlement was established in 1564. Most of the settlers in this habitat were Huguenots who differed from the Catholic Christianity of Spain.

The Spanish who had their colonies towards the west didn’t like it. So they seized an opportunity in 1565 to attack the French Florida. In this attack, they killed all the people who lived in the colony and effectively ended French presence in the area.

End of French Colonization

During the French and Indian War which ended in 1763, French colonists and forces in North America were defeated by the British forces and allies.

As a result of this defeat, nearly all of French colonies in North America were ceded to either Britain or Spain. This effectively ended French presence in the region.

A Not-So-New World: Empire and Environment in French Colonial North America (Early American Studies)