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The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America | [Colin G. Calloway]

The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America

In February, 1763, Britain, Spain, and France signed the Treaty of Paris, ending the French and Indian War. In this one document, more American territory changed hands than in any treaty before or since. As the great historian Francis Parkman wrote, "half a continent...changed hands at the scratch of a pen."
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Publisher's Summary

In February, 1763, Britain, Spain, and France signed the Treaty of Paris, ending the French and Indian War. In this one document, more American territory changed hands than in any treaty before or since. As the great historian Francis Parkman wrote, "half a continent...changed hands at the scratch of a pen."

As Colin Calloway reveals in this superb history, the Treaty set in motion a cascade of unexpected consequences. Indians and Europeans, settlers and frontiersmen, all struggled to adapt to new boundaries, new alignments, and new relationships. Britain now possessed a vast American empire stretching from Canada to the Florida Keys, yet the crushing costs of maintaining it would push its colonies toward rebellion. White settlers, free to pour into the West, clashed as never before with Indian tribes struggling to defend their way of life. In the Northwest, Pontiac's War brought racial conflict to its bitterest level so far. Whole ethnic groups migrated, sometimes across the continent: it was 1763 that saw many exiled settlers from Acadia in French Canada move again to Louisiana, where they would become Cajuns. Calloway unfurls this panoramic canvas with vibrant narrative skill, peopling his tale with memorable characters such as William Johnson, the Irish baronet who moved between Indian campfires and British barracks; Pontiac, the charismatic Ottawa chieftain whose warriors, for a time, chased the Europeans from Indian country; and James Murray, Britain's first governor in Quebec, who fought to protect the religious rights of his French Catholic subjects.

Most Americans know the significance of the Declaration of Independence or the Emancipation Proclamation, but not the Treaty of Paris. Yet 1763 was a year that shaped our history just as decisively as 1776 or 1862. This captivating book shows why.

The “Pivotal Moments in American History” series seeks to unite the old and the new history, combining the insights and techniques of recent historiography with the power of traditional narrative. Each title has a strong narrative arc with drama, irony, suspense, and – most importantly – great characters who embody the human dimension of historical events. The general editors of “Pivotal Moments” are not just historians; they are popular writers themselves, and, in two cases, Pulitzer Prize winners: David Hackett Fischer, James M. McPherson, and David Greenberg. We hope you like your American History served up with verve, wit, and an eye for the telling detail!

©2006 Colin G. Calloway; (P)2006 Tantor Media, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Spellbinding....First-rate cultural history." (Publishers Weekly)
"Imbued with cultural erudition and diplomatic insight." (Booklist)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Brian Las Vegas, NV, United States 07-18-06
    Brian Las Vegas, NV, United States 07-18-06 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Poor account - there are better"

    If you want to read about the French and Indian War and the aftermath, skip this poor book and instead get "The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War (Unabridged)", also on audible and with the same narrator. This book is very poorly written and constructed, and treats the Indians as a bunch of cartoon "noble savages" rather than examining the different tribes as different people (who often fought each other). The first 45 minutes is just telling you (twice!) what the next 5.5 hours will hold (and then it doesn't deliver). No narritive structure, no compelling story, nothing worth listening to.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phillip GRANT, AL, United States 10-07-08
    Phillip GRANT, AL, United States 10-07-08 Member Since 2008
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    "Disappointing"

    This was a painful book, very disorganized and pointless. Excuse my candor :-)

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    carolyn Louisville, Ky, United States 11-17-07
    carolyn Louisville, Ky, United States 11-17-07 Member Since 2006
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    "Lacked sparkle"

    I was disppointed in the author's style, rather than in the facts -- even understanding that it's a political history. Rather dry. I feel the author's work didn't live up to the scope of his project, and it failed to convey the depth of the impact of the treaty, although it includes many anncedotes and details. Read a bit like an undergraduate's thesis. But because of the details, I would recommend it for listeners who aren't also looking for style.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark United States 02-03-13
    Mark United States 02-03-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Spectacular Look into 1763"

    This is a wonderfully written and thoroughly researched short history book. The best way to describe it is a cross-section of what it was like to live in North America in 1763. Despite this book being short, the detail is amazing -- how the mail worked, how suits were ordered, how tobacco was sold . . . . You get a very vivid sense of daily 1763 life among various groups including: southern planters, British soldiers, French-Canadian furriers, freed slaves, whites who chose to live among Indians, etc. etc. etc. Of particular note, this probably does as good a job of any popular history I have ever read with respect to giving a textured and nuanced description of many various Indian groups and their relations to white settles, the British, the French, and each other. In short, I learned a lot and really enjoyed it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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