The Price of Empire: Britain’s Military Costs During the Seven Years’ War

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jeremy Land (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Jari Eloranta

Abstract: This thesis examines difficult problems faced by all sovereign nations at one point or another: military expenditures and public debt. With current debt and military spending issues commanding attention from nearly all political entities, engaging in a discussion of historical events with similar situations and problems can be useful in a variety of ways. This work is an attempt to participate in the debate on an aspect of history often overlooked by historians. Though there is a large amount of scholarship on recent military spending and debt crises, little exists that examines the Seven Years’ War and its impact on Britain’s debt. The thesis argues that the war left Britain with historically high debt and a much larger empire that was difficult to consolidate. Further, this work examines the reasons for the high cost of the war. Though there are numerous reasons for it, some had more impact than others. Most wars of the period saw heavy action on the continent of Europe, and the Seven Years’ War was no exception. However, the North American continent became a major theater of conflict for the first time in its history, funded more directly by the British government. Because of this addition, transportation costs became a more pronounced issue than in previous wars. Beyond the obvious naval aspect, the frontier of North America was dense and difficult to travel; forcing contingents of soldiers to take more time and spend large sums of money traveling. Furthermore, Native Americans were given gifts and military supplies by British officials in an effort to find support in their war against France. All these factors, and many more, extended Britain’s national debt to historically high levels. Because of that debt, British politicians looked to recover those monies spent on the war by taxing their colonies throughout the globe. Unfortunately, the American colonies were not happy with this development and it led to their rebellion and subsequent independence. Though the Seven Years’ War is not the only cause of the American War of Independence, it contributed directly to the onset of the rebellion.

Additional Information

Land, J. (2010). The Price of Empire: Britain’s Military Costs During the Seven Years’ War. Unpublished master’s thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2010

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