The Scratch of a Pen
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.

The Scratch of a Pen Details

TitleThe Scratch of a Pen
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 1st, 2006
PublisherOxford University Press, USA
ISBN-139780195300710
Rating
GenreHistory, North American Hi..., American History, Nonfiction, Military History, American Revolution

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The Scratch of a Pen Review

  • Shawn
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 how its victory would ultimately contribute to the American Revolution. I would recommend this to those interested in understanding the origins of the American Revolution.
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  • Steve
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 were given away by European Kings despite treaties and trading agreements.
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  • Eric
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Sarah Iozzio
    January 1, 1970
    I like reading about history, but this was the most boring, nonsensically organized book I've ever read.
  • Ben
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 America than just the thirteen colonies. Canada, Havana, Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, West Florida, the interior (Louisiana), really all of the islands in the Caribbean (Cuba, St. Dominque, Puerto Rico, etc, etc, etc). It also gets lost just how much the Seven Years War effected, and basically was the main catalyst for the American Revolution. How the Treaty of Peace (Paris) paved the way for the American Revolution (similar to how the Treaty of Versailles paved the way for World War II). Very interesting and fascinating book, just extremely dry.
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  • Paola
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Joseph Vermillion
    January 1, 1970
    It got the job done. I wasn't particularly interested in the subject matter, but the author was able to hold my attention and present views that I had not considered in the past. this was required reading for my History Class, and while I learned a lot, I will not be reading this again.
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  • Margie Kuzminski
    January 1, 1970
    A quick read for history students or teachers; the takeaway is how 1763 prompted a tremendous movement of peoples on the North American continent.
  • Tim
    January 1, 1970
    A brief book that is very much an overview. It had some interesting facts I was unaware of, but it is more a starting point, or a fill-in-the-small-background book than a comprehensive study.
  • Matthew
    January 1, 1970
    Just read intro in 2016, 2017. Read whole book in graduate school.
  • Jack
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 period, in ways that have been underappreciated by many. A fine read.
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  • Herbert
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 the Peace of Paris and assesses their impact on many societies and countless lives in North America" (14). Calloway demonstrates that the 1763 treaty did more than change the political geography of North America, it also produced a myriad of significant demographic changes. In the process, he reminds us that 1763 was not just a turning point for the English speaking population of the 13 colonies, but for all of North America and its Native Americans, Spanish Americans, French Jesuits, Acadians, land speculators, French Habitants, western settlers, African slaves and more. Calloway even has a brief but fascinating section on North America's newest inhabitants as a result of the Peace—the British soldier now stationed permanently on North American soil.Not that any of this is new to the well-read student of early American history—which is why I gave it three instead of four stars. However, this volume would make a very good addition to any undergraduate reading list of early US history. A very good intro to the human geography of the Revolutionary era. Based on a good balance between original research in primary sources and interaction with secondary sources. It also includes a helpful timeline and many valuable before-and-after maps; the map showing the mass movements of people groups in the aftermath of the Peace is particularly fascinating.
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  • Chaz
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 the scratch of a pen in an unimaginably faraway land led to the first revolution against Britain: Pontiac's War (1763-1766). This resulted in thousands of deaths and further displaced even many more thousands.In Louisiana, the French Creoles rebelled against their new Spanish governor, Ulloa (1763). (Louis XV ceded Louisiana to his cousin, fellow Bourbon Carlos III. An unwanted and neglected colony by Louis' time, Carlos' famous reply was an equivocal "really, Cousin, you give me too much.") Though a limited affair where no one was hurt, it did bring upon the French Creoles the wrath of Spain's empire and the famously draconian governorship of O'Reilly, whom quickly established order in Spanish Louisiana. Clearly, the American Revolution had its antecedents and you can argue that it therefore was not completely unprecedented. All things were possible at the cusp of enormous continent, one that ever encouraged a look westward, away from Europe and its seemingly petty wars and fiefdoms.
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  • Eunice Schroeder
    January 1, 1970
    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 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. Lawrence in Canada to the mouth of the Mississippi. Britain was the big winner, but at the cost of huge war debts, which led to taxation of its American colonies, which in turn led to the rebellion of the colonies and the War of Independence, which ended with another Peace of Paris treaty twenty years later in 1783. The author devotes much attention to disruptions in patterns of trade and other cultural interaction between native peoples, colonists, and European empires resulting from the 1763 treaty, all of which I found enlightening.
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 could imagine a story of pre-Revolutionary British in Kentucky who felt more aligned with New Orleans than Philadelphia. One could imagine a story where George Washington was not prevented by British policy from speculating in Indian Territory west of the Alleghenies and thus became a rural slum lord. Or where the Haitian revolution failed and Spain kept Louisiana .... Or.... or....
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  • Jay Perkins
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 year impacted the Indians, French settlers, British soldiers, land speculators and many other various participants. This is an important book in understanding what lead up to the clash between Britain and her thirteen America colonies.
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  • Jim
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 treaty led to the American Revolution and the shaping of a county.
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  • Kathy Petersen
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 and its events had on the future of the soon-to-be United States and the world in general.
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  • Shayne
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Don
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Susan Horan
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Ken
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Matthew
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Homer H Blass
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Dave Clark
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Travis
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • L.B. Joramo
    January 1, 1970
    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!
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • John
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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