North America was explored and colonized by different nations. In the north, France had established New France, a colony that was struggling to develop. The colonists were mostly French Roman Catholics, and the population was mainly made up of voyageurs, coureurs de bois, Jesuits, and nuns. Although settlement was progressing slowly the French were moving west along waterways, exploring and expanding their colony, and trying to protect the territory they claimed in the name of their king.During this same time the British had brought over far more settlers, and in their colonies to the south cities and towns began developing more quickly than in New France.

Trade and industry developed, making the 13 colonies more and more independent as they could make their own products (such as textiles) and not rely on Britain. New York welcomed immigrants from many countries and of many religions. In Pennsylvania communities of Quakers and Mennonites settled the rich farmland outside Philadelphia. The southern plantation system required slave labour, and thousands of Africans were brought to America.

By the 1700s the British colonies had thirty times the population of New France. Soon the newcomers needed more and more land.The British Empire sought to expand their territory. In Europe, Asia, the West Indies and in North America Britain and France struggled to control trade and resources, and this led to the War of Conquest. Also known as the Seven Years’ War, these two countries fought for control of North America, and by the time a treaty was signed in 1763 New France no longer existed. The British had won.