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

(Pivotal Moments in American History)

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  491 ratings  ·  54 reviews
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 mo ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 1st 2006 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2006)
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3.69  · 
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 ·  491 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Colin Calloway is one of my favorite academic historians of early North American History. This is an excellent work that explores not only the results of the French and Indian War but also the Treaty of Paris that managed the transfer of colonial and Indian lands of New France to the Spanish and English crowns. It is a fascinating history.
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Calloway's book is about the impact of the 1763 Treaty of Paris on North America and the various peoples who occupied it, ie the British, French, and Spanish Colonials and the Native American peoples. The title of the book comes from a quote by historian Francis Parkman who stated that "half a continent changed hands at the scratch of a pen". Calloway explains how various conflicts erupted because of the ceding of a vast amount of territory to the British in its costly French and Indian War and ...more
Sarah Iozzio
Apr 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
I like reading about history, but this was the most boring, nonsensically organized book I've ever read.
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why did the British win a great territorial victory in North America from the 1763 Treaty of Paris, only to see most of it lost in the 1783 Treaty of Paris? This outstanding book tells the story succinctly and with very eloquent writing. It essentially follows as a natural sequel to the War That Made America, (previously reviewed). The author pays particular attention to the actions of land speculators (e.g., George Washington), the uprooted French settlers, and the Indian tribes, whose lands we ...more
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is well worth a read for any history buff interested in the French & Indian War in North America. It focuses on the socialogical implications of the war, and how it affected many of the different populations, both directly and indirectly. It gave more note of some of the often overlooked groups such as the Acadians/Cajuns, the Native American tribes in the south, and the Spanish. Well written & researched.
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
A detailed, well-researched history of the immediate aftermath of the Seven Years’ War in North America.

The narrative is balanced, and Calloway describes how the peace of 1763 affected relations between the British, the French, the colonists and the Indians. In particular, he describes how Britain’s victory made them less eager to placate the Indians, and how this led to Pontiac’s War. He describes how the 1763 Proclamation came about, and how it alienated traders, hunters, settlers, Indians and
Apr 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Part of Oxford UP's "Pivotal Moments in American History" series, Scratch of a Pen would only be a blinding flash of the obvious if it treated the 1763 Peace of Paris solely as a diplomatic event in the "pre-history" of the American Revolution. However, Calloway does so much more here than that. As he states in his intro, "The purpose of this book is not to retell the familiar story of the growing rift between Britain and the thirteen colonies…Rather, it surveys the enormous changes generated by ...more
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this detailed look at the French and Indian War . . . this text filled a gap in my general knowledge of US History.
Feb 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Calloway's book looks at the demographic shake-up that the Treaty of Paris of 1763, after the French & Indian War (Seven Years' War), afforded upon the North American continent.

Throughout the book, it also makes clear that in the treaty itself, where Britain inherited most of North America, were the seeds of the it's undoing. An expensive world war to be paid for, in part, by Americans; restrictive land use by those whom won the war, the Anglo-Americans; usurpation of native Indian land by
May 24, 2017 rated it liked it
An interesting look at post-French/Indian (Seven Years) War look of North America, specifically how it entailed in the year after 1763 with the Native American (Indian) tribes and the British (and leaving French).

Bit slow, bit of a slog to read, but was very interesting. Dry writing, but informative, knowledgeable information. Lots of sourcing, citations, etc. It often gets lost in thinking about the timeframe (pre-Revolution/American Revolution, 1740s-1780s), but there was much more to North A
Eunice Schroeder
Jan 17, 2009 rated it liked it
Not as well written as other books by professional historians aimed at the general public that I have recently read. However, the author provides a detailed picture of the changes to the North American continent that resulted from the 1763 Peace of Paris treaty than ended the momentous Seven Years War (usually called the French and Indian War in America). The treaty ended the French presence on the continent that dated back two centuries and included a huge amount of territory from the St. Lawre ...more
Jan 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is another in the series of American history books I have read in the last two years that turn the received wisdom of the early years of our country on its head. If I were a more creative person, this book would provide the underlying plot of any number of wonderful historical novels or alternative histories. One could imagine a sweeping Margaret Mitchell-esque story of the serial evacuation and repatriation of first the Spanish and then the English in pre-Revolutionary Florida. One co ...more
Jay Perkins
Oct 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
In 1763 Britain signed the Treaty of Paris which ended the Seven Years War and gave her dominion over much of the North America continent. Just 20 years later, Britain lost most of this grand empire in another Treaty of Paris. What happened? Much of what took place in 1763 set the course for the next 20 years. Galloway does an excellent job of describing events during this pivotal year. Balanced and articulate, he evaluates not only the political situation, but spends time explaining how the yea ...more
Diane G.
May 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is my second book by Calloway. I find his writing interesting and balanced. In this book, he looks at the consequences of the Treaty of Paris and Procalmation of 1763 from not just the British and Br. Colonial viewpoints, but also takes a look at the ramifications for the Indians, and the displaced French and Spanish colonials. The book is not long, yet it clearly deals with all these peoples in the run-up to the American Revolution. Happily, it contains enough photographs and maps to help ...more
May 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
1763! A year that should stand out as do the years 1776, 1860, 1929 in American History. As I read this book, I kept questioning how I didn't know the information of The Treaty of Paris that ended the French & Indian Wars, and meant so much to the birth of our nation. Perhaps I was asleep the day/week/year it was taught in High School or perhaps our education system is not well versed in its teaching. Either way, The Scratch of a Pen takes us back to this pivotal period and shows how a peace ...more
Kathy  Petersen
My city, St. Louis, was founded as a trading post in 1763. (Well, that's when Pierre Laclede and his stepson Auguste Chouteau came up the river from New Orleans and chose the site. They came back in February of the next year to start building.) I did know a lot else was happening on the continent that year, but never so well as Calloway tells it. Incidentally the Epilogue, the last seven pages of the book, is an excellent capsule "look ahead" discussion of the far-reaching influence this year an ...more
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history
I love reading about the American Revolution, particularly from the George Washington angle. But I haven't appreciated enough the years prior to the Revolution, like the French and Indian War. This book really helped with that. Calloway focused on the 1763 as a pivotal moment. The French and Indian War, and resulting actions of the British government really set the stage for the Revolution to come. Also, slaves, native Americans, and non-famous colonists all were players in the events of this pe ...more
Susan Horan
Short, basic overview of a somewhat neglected area of history: how the end of the French & Indian War affected the peoples of North America geographically, culturally and politically. Calloway demonstrates how the foundation for the American Revolution was already being laid thirteen years before it began. He especially focuses on how the war's outcome affected various Native American tribes and their relationships with the colonists.
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
So it would seem that 1763 was just another year before the revolution but this book really makes the case that actions are often started years before without anyone realizing what will take place. I had always wondered about the French in Canada and this gave me a good understanding of that situation and why they are still practicing their French heritage instead of becoming part of the larger Canadian British culture.
Mar 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A detailed, if uneven look at an often overlooked aspect -- and yes, determinant of the American experience. There is a lot of good information and background here, although it does not flow particularly well. What does flow well is the introduction and the epilogue. The epilogue, in fact IS the story, and the author does an excellent job of putting the spolis of the war into context and how the parties involved never overcame the die that was cast with all that was the 1763 Treaty of Paris.
Dave Clark
May 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Colin Calloway deftly lays out the impact of the Paris Treaty of 1763 on the North American continent. He does an excellent job of capturing the diversity and complexity of peoples that were affected by this monumental treaty that reshaped the political and cultural geography, set in motion a revolution, and resulted in the ultimate defeat of Native American land rights’. It is on the short list for anybody interested in learning more about early North American history.
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Through the use of much original material, the author covers what happened in North America with the signing of the Peace of Ghent in 1763. With the change of power and of alliances between white and the many Native peoples, forces were put in motion that would Effect North America for quite some time. The story is told by region, which makes it simpler to follow and make sense of. It is a good addition to books on that time.
Aug 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, leadership
I thought this was a good book. I sometime felt like I got lost on the many places and people. It was somewhat difficult to all the connections that he was hoping to draw in the book. There was just a lot of countries and people to keep straight. I do see how 1763 was such a huge year in the history of our country.

It definitely makes me feel sorry for way the British, French and Spanish treated Indians. wow.
Homer H Blass
First class diplomatic and Social History Show how the terms of the Peace of Paris of 1763 played havoc with most of the organized socio-ehtnic groups living in North America. It set in motion a collision between British and colonist; colonist and native Americans; and native Americans and blacks. Diplomats in Paris played fruitbasket turnover or 52 card pickup with large groups of people 5000 miles away.
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Short and to the point. I really liked this book. It is sad to learn how European powers were setting indigenous peoples against each other to deter their European adversary. After many tribes were moved and removed they worked hard to repopulate the land with white settlers as though they are the ultimate authority over the land they had just stolen and wiped off it's peoples.
Oct 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book because it made me think about American history from a different perspective. It amazed me to find that the French signed away a huge tract of North America in exchange for a few islands--and they may have gotten the better part of the deal. It was also interesting to read that England gaining control of this region actually destabilized its hold on the continent.
L.B. Joramo
Jun 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I can't believe I let other's reviews of this book stop me for so long from reading this. This is one of the best books I've read--comprehensive, organized, and brilliant, flowing prose.

It is short, when compared to other historical books, but pack a wallop of information. This is an important read for any historian! Please read it!
Jul 12, 2012 rated it liked it
BORING, but there were some interesting facts to be taken away. It reminded me of some of my least favorite books I had to read in my college history classes. Do not read this book if you do not absolutely love history. It is probably one of the reasons there are people who claim to hate history out there.
Nov 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
A fascinating examination of a period of North American history of which I knew very little. I highly recommend it if you are interested in reasons for the American Revolution, history of Quebecoises and Acadians, and inter- and intra- First Nations interactions with and as a result of European imperial powers.
Apr 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Calloway has some very interesting insights. He views the Treaty of Paris in 1763, which ended the 'French and Indian' war as one of the causes of the American revolutionary war. He makes some very convincing arguments. Worth reading for anyone interested in American history.
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“Since much of American taxes prior to 1763 went to support the local clergy, one humorist suggested the opportunity to vote on that. If the minister was turned out, he could open a tavern and preach to his customers if he served them liquor.” 0 likes
“Americans in 1763 lived always in the shadow and presence of death. Death was not yet romanticized as it would be in the 19th century, nor yet sanitized as it would be in the 20th century.” 0 likes
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