The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America Paperback – Jun 17 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Dartmouth historian Calloway (author of the outstanding One Vast Winter Count: The Native American West Before Lewis and Clark) tells a spellbinding tale of a year in American history. In 1763, with the peace treaty that ended the French and Indian War, France and Spain handed over all the territory east of the Mississippi, as well as Canada, to the British. In this one stroke, settlers both on the East Coast and on the frontier came under British rule. Calloway's enthralling chronicle follows the lives of settlers, Indians and immigrants as this new British rule affected them. He demonstrates convincingly that the seeds of the American Revolution were planted in 1763, as a near-bankrupt Britain began to impose heavy "taxation without representation." The year brought bloody skirmishes between Indians, who were being pushed off more of their lands, and settlers; Calloway also narrates the expulsion of Acadians from Nova Scotia and their resettlement in Louisiana. This first-rate cultural history, part of Oxford's Pivotal Moments in American History series, reveals that the events of 1763 changed not only the political geography of a nation but also its cultural geography, as various groups moved from one part of the country to another. B&w illus., maps. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
In North America in 1763, people were on the move, some under compulsion, some under their own volition, many under arms. The ensuing cultural and political collisions are Calloway's theme as he surveys the consequences of the French and Indian War. A historian of American Indian history, Calloway ably delivers on his introductory promise to explain how the war's territorial transfers impacted countless people. Immediately objecting to their abandonment, in their perception, by the French and accurate in their belief that the victorious British came to conquer, the Indians of the Ohio country raised the tomahawk in Pontiac's War. The war heralded that adjustments to the new imperium would be required of every ethnic group: the southern Indian tribes; British settlers surging over the Appalachians; the French inhabitants of Canada, Illinois, and Louisiana; and the Spanish colonists of East and West Florida. Imbued with cultural erudition and diplomatic insight, Calloway's study sequences perfectly with Fred Anderson's War That Made America (2005). Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book derives its name from historian Francis Parkman, who wrote regarding the 1763 Treaty of Paris at the conclusion of the Seven Years War, "half a continent changed hands at the scratch of a pen". What is commonly referred to in America as the French and Indian War was in actuality, the first World War. It was fought on 4 continents and 3 oceans around the globe. Its' participants included not only the British and French, but Americans, Canadians, American Indians, Prussians, Austrians, Russians, Spaniards and East Indians as well.
Nearly a decade of war left both Britain and France in economic ruin. Britain, being victorious, tried to extricate itself from financial crisis by attempting to simultaneously cut costs (reducing gifts the Indians had grown so accustomed to receiving from the French) and increasing its revenue by raising taxes (on the colonials), which NEVER works. Cutting costs led in part to sparking an Indian war, and raising taxes led to an all out revolt by the colonies. Ultimately, Britain would be unable to benefit from its' newly won empire.
Calloway shows in explicit detail how the 1763 Peace of Paris Treaty had a much more tumultuous effect upon the peoples of North America than the war itself. Britain tried to divide its newfound empire into two pieces, one for its colonists and one for the Indian tribes. The colonists, however, had a much different view. They saw their hard fought victory in the war as giving them the right to expand into the newly conquered territory, to itself relieve some its financial burden through land speculation and settlement.
In an attempt to quell the growing anarchy in the new territory, Britain engaged in perhaps one of the first instances of bio-terrorism by purposely infecting Indians with small pox. Though successful in "thinning the herd" so to speak, British lack of government intervention and control in the territory spurred anarchy among both the Indians and the settlers.
Calloway has brilliantly defined both the short and long-term effects the Peace of Paris had on every venue of North America, from Hudson Bay to Florida and Cuba, and Nova Scotia to the Louisiana Territory. For a much better understanding of American history and the causes that pushed the colonies towards independence, this is essential reading. Professor Calloway holds the reader in his grasp with every page. The text flows nicely and is capped off with an exhaustive bibliography that will surely add to one's reading list.
For as much as I truly loved this book, I do have one complaint. On page 117, this historian with a magnificent proficiency in writing, pierced my soul when he failed to contain himself from interpolating his own political essence upon current events, with just one brief sentence. I won't give too much away, as I don't want to dissuade anyone from reading this extraordinary work. But if Professor Calloway should ever happen to read this review, I say to you sir, you are a brilliant writer. Your work here is superb. Please don't blemish such a brilliant work with your own leanings. As you know, the purpose of the historian is to record and report the facts, not to color them.
There, now that I have that off my chest, let me conclude by saying, I absolutely loved this book. It has given critical insight to not only the causes behind the revolution, but how the Peace of Paris Treaty of 1763 transformed the lives of so many then, and countless millions since. Do not miss out on reading this book.
It's past time for a thorough revision of Parkman -- who was ungenerous with the Indians although I thrilled as a young reader to his descriptions of their ferocity -- for example, the "insensate fury" of the Iroquois. Actually, the Iroquois were less insensate than they were astute.
Calloway omits the bloody details and vivid writing of Parkman but he gives us a thorough picture of what happened in the wake of the English victory over the French in North America. In particular he focuses on the frontier and the built-in conflict of American settlers, British policy, and the Indian tribes who either went down to defeat with the French or were betrayed by perfidious Albion. They made their point, however, in Pontiac's War and by clearing white settlers from the frontier. But their numbers were declining and they would soon be overwhelmed.
This is a good book about the issues of the frontier between Whites and Indians. In addition, there's a good account of the French movement from Canada to Louisiana and the Spanish rule in Florida and the trans-Mississippi.
"British and French, Americans and Canadians, American Indians, Prussians, Austrians, Russians, Spaniards, and East Indians moguls fought the war, and conflicts had been waged one land and sea, in North America, the Caribbean Islands, West Africa, India, and continental Europe." The result was British victory with the Peace of Paris of 1763. Colin G. Calloway, of Dartmouth College, convincingly argues that everything changed after that.
France loses its North American empire with Canada and all land east of the Mississippi River going to the British while everything west of the mighty river was ceded to the Spanish. Most affected by the Paris Peace deliberations were those who were not even represented at the table--American Indians, Acadians, and the American colonists.
For the Natives who had maintained good relations with the French, it was the beginning of the end. Much of the land that France ceded on both sides of the Mississippi and north of the Great Lakes was in fact Indian territory. This would lead to two history changing independence movements, that by the Indians in Pontiac's Rebellion and the other by the American colonists. Though Pontiac's Rebellion would fail, in 1783 another Peace of Paris would transform the map once again, establishing a new nation, the United States of America.
The Scratch of a Pen is an important contribution on a subject too few Americans understand. Calloway also deserves credit for his analysis of the effects of the French and Indian War on the Indians themselves. Though history cannot be changed, it is imperative that we understand it.