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
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 1st, 2006
PublisherOxford University Press, USA
ISBN0195300718
ISBN-139780195300710
Number of pages240 pages
Rating
GenreHistory, North American Hi..., American History, Nonfiction

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The Scratch of a Pen Review

  • Chris
    January 9, 2017
    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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  • Eric
    January 3, 2014
    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
    April 6, 2011
    I like reading about history, but this was the most boring, nonsensically organized book I've ever read.
  • Joseph Vermillion
    February 6, 2017
    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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  • Jack
    March 3, 2017
    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
    April 8, 2013
    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
    February 5, 2012
    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 17, 2009
    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 9, 2011
    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
    October 21, 2013
    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
    May 2, 2014
    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
    February 11, 2009
    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
    August 11, 2013
    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
    March 23, 2012
    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
    July 25, 2011
    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
    March 31, 2016
    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
    August 16, 2012
    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
    July 28, 2011
    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
    May 1, 2008
    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
    November 16, 2010
    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
    June 19, 2014
    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
    July 12, 2012
    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
    October 16, 2008
    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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  • Dan
    January 12, 2010
    You wouldn't think that one year in history could have much affect on the years that followed it. But this book makes very clear how critical 1763 was to North America, even more than 200 years later. Great book.
  • Mark Singer
    June 23, 2010
    Calloway provides an excellent and brief description of the state of British North America in the crucial year of 1763, right at the end of the Seven Years War. This was a required text for a course I took on the American Revolution in the Spring of 2010 at Temple University - Ambler.
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  • Deborah
    April 14, 2016
    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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  • Dave
    April 19, 2007
    Seems to be a great, consice book on the time around and during the French and Indian War. Focuses on the feelings generated during the era that led to the American Revolution.
  • Emily S.
    January 18, 2012
    I mean, it's a textbook for my history class. Though, it WAS much better than most history books I've had used in classes.
  • M0rfeus
    November 3, 2010
    A Chaotic attempt to (yet again) paint America as an evil fascist tyranny--even before there was an America.
  • Thomas
    July 27, 2011
    Very interesting insight into the real causes behind the American Revolution
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