To understand the deepest roots of French anti-Americanism one must journey back to the very colonization of North America in the eighteenth century. Both France and Britain wanted territory in the newly discovered North America, and this territorial quest between the European powers soon became a full-scale war. The French and Indian War took place between French colonists, and their Indian allies against Great Britain, the Anglo-American colonists and the Iroquois Confederacy (Indians who controlled most of New York and northern Pennsylvania). It began as Britain established colonies on the eastern coast of North America while France occupied much of middle North America. The poorly established border between the French and British territories led the French to build a series of forts in the Ohio River Valley. This was a French attempt to bolster their claim on the territory. British colonial forces, led by George Washington, were defeated in their attempt to eradicate French forces from the Ohio River Valley. The British Prime Minister immediately called for retaliation; this news, though, was quickly leaked to the public. France was now fully aware of Britain’s plan for vengeance, and this knowledge escalated what should have been a relatively small-scale battle for territory into a full-blown war.
In light of the impending defeat in North America and failed negotiations with Great Britain, France formed an alliance with Spain that would require Spain to declare war on Great Britain if the war did not conclude prior to May 1st, 1762. Ideally this would pressure Britain into a peace agreement. However, the result was just the opposite. The Grand Alliance, which embodied England, the League of Augsburg, Denmark, Portugal, and the Netherlands, declared war on France and Spain to avoid the combination of their thrones following the death of King Charles II of Spain. The impressive naval strength of Britain proved too powerful for Spain and France. Britain seized French and Spanish territories in Europe as well as North America. While a huge success for Great Britain, this intercontinental war would still prove extremely costly for all sides.
Britain’s success over France and Spain was grossly expensive. Great Britain’s government enforced taxes the colonies of North America to help pay the debt. This angered the colonists who were not directly represented in Parliament back in England. “No taxation without representation” they protested. This led to the beginning of the American Revolution.
France, with the bitter taste of defeat in her mouth, saw an opportunity to impose revenge on Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War. In 1776 the American victory over Britain at the Battle of Saratoga gave France confidence in an American defeat over Great Britain. In 1778 France recognized the United States of America and formed a military alliance. Shortly after, Spain joined the U.S. and France and went to war with Britain as well. The war came to...