The militarization of New France inhibited immigration and economic de- velopment, but it created a new weapon in French global strategy. By the eight- eenth century, French ministers at Versailles saw Canada and its tough, combat- ive people as a relatively cheap way of blocking the spectacular expansion of the Anglo-american colonies and making the British enemy divert military and naval resources from Europe, the West Indies, and India. Although some of the west- ern posts and settlements of New France were economic liabilities, they had be- come military necessities. By mid-century, French soldiers, militiamen, and In- dian auxiliaries were pressing into the Ohio valley, not to expand the fur trade, but to keep Anglo-americans penned behind the Appalachians. Despite the growing economic value of Canada within the French empire during the eight- eenth century its strategic value overrode other considerations.15 Whereas peace- ful coexistence with the much more numerous Anglo-americans was what New France needed in order to develop socially and economically, its essentially mili- tary function forced it to be aggressive, in the end suicidally so.
When New France fell, in 1760, after fighting heroically against great odds and after British naval victories had cut the lifeline to Europe, it was clear to all, including the Canadians themselves, that the government of Louis XV had sim- ply abandoned the colony, like a broken or worn-out weapon. A century of mili- tary history, and more than a half-century of French policy, shaped the fate of New France; in 1763 it became part of the British empire, and 65,000 militarized Canadians accepted their fate because armed resistance seemed hopeless.
The continental Anglo-american colonies, in their military aspect, fit nei- ther the Spanish nor the French patterns. Tardy and feeble in the race for an American empire, England as late as the 1680's seemed remarkably unclear in its relationship to those settlements that, by then, dotted the coast between Florida and the St. Lawrence. While certain groups of English merchants and officials were pressing for a legally defined, tightly controlled empire, the English Crown was giving away huge tracts of land and extensive powers of government in what would become New York, New Jersey, the Carolinas, and Pennsylvania.16 The problem was that Anglo-america had proved to be neither a vast treasure house, like New Spain, sluicing wealth back to the mother country, nor a tough military base like New France, clearly making an important contribution to global French strategy. As in New France, the Anglo-american was armed and lived (except in Pennsylvania) under a universal obligation to perform military service. But as in New Spain, the issue of governmental control of armed force never clearly arose; for a moment, in 1685-1688, when the English Crown at- tempted drastic centralization of its colonies, the issue was almost confronted, but revolution in England resolved the crisis, and thereafter, until 1774-1775, this key question of European political development remained largely muted in the British colonies. Instead, Anglo-americans were left to govern themselves and defend themselves. 17