The Plains of Abraham: The Battle that Shaped Modern North America

By | July 16, 2019

test article image
Death of General Wolfe after painting by Benjamin West. Source: (

From the time that Europeans first arrived in the Americas, colonization and conflict ruled the day. The growing overseas European empires of the Spanish, British, French, and Dutch jostled for power to settle who would be the dominant power in the hemisphere. As a result of and dramatic Battle of the Plains of Abraham, France exited the stage of North American geopolitics.

test article image
Source: (Wikimedia)

The Seven Years War

The battle took place on September 13, 1759, as part of the Seven Years War which involved nearly every major European power and was fought across the world. The war was called the French and Indian War in North America since it was fought between the French and their native allies against the British and their native allies.

In retrospect, the French were at a severe disadvantage in North America. They controlled a wide swath of territory from Quebec through the Great Lakes, down the Mississippi Valley to New Orleans. In that entire territory, there were perhaps a total of 70,000 French as opposed to the 1.2 million British that inhabited the smaller-sized but more densely packed thirteen colonies on the Atlantic seaboard.

The French and Indian War began in 1754 mostly over control of the Ohio River Valley. After several years of back and forth fighting, the British army had gotten the edge of the French and now believed it possible to expel the French from North America altogether.

The greatest prize for the British was the city of Quebec.