Backed by royal mandate, the French made the most impressive early inroads into the North American continent. Quebec was founded in 1608, and Montreal in 1642, while the British and Dutch were still largely huddled along the Atlantic coastline. However, the natural resources of New England and Virginia would, after a rocky start, sustain much larger populations and, through the plantation farming of cash crops, generate greater wealth than the Canadian wilderness. Although there was less Crown sponsorship, commercial initiatives and religious migrations soon dwarfed French colonial presence in terms of dominance on the continent. The Anglo-Dutch wars 1665–74 were key; when the Dutch were permanently removed from New England, Britain gained control over what would become the Thirteen Colonies (the Dutch had previously quashed a brief Swedish colonial foray in 1655). When France and Britain eventually fought for these territories, the latter’s huge manpower advantage would prove critical.
— OR —