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The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America (Pivotal Moments in American History)

44 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195300710
ISBN-10: 0195300718
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Editorial Reviews

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.)
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From Booklist

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

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Product Details

  • Series: Pivotal Moments in American History
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (May 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195300718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195300710
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.2 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #410,071 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Monty Rainey VINE VOICE on April 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As with all books in the "Pivotal Moments in American History" series, this book is exceedingly well written. David Hackett Fischer [Washington's Crossing] has superbly edited this work and his 3 page editor's note is itself, worth the price of the book. Dartmouth Professor of History, Colin Calloway has closely examined 1763, one of the most critical years in American History in his book, THE SCRATCH OF A PEN: 1763 AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF NORTH AMERICA. This one is sure to take its place on the "essential reading" list of American history lovers.

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.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Smallchief on September 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Perhaps the long shadow of Francis Parkman has discouraged historians from writing about the French and Indian War (Seven Year's War). Whatever the reason it's good to see from the publication of several books that Americans are taking a renewed interest in the pre-revolutionary period when the British were triumphant and the Indians still counted as a political force.

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.

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Lehigh History Student VINE VOICE on December 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book lives up to its series title. The Treaty of 1763 was the start of the American nation. The fall out of the treaty created several events that would lead to the revolution. From rising taxes to the Proclamation of 1763 the colonists were being given ample reasons to rise up. Calloway who is a Native American historian focuses on the rise of the Indians especially Pontiac's rebellion near Detroit. He provides a condemnation of Francis Parkman who virtually ignores the Indians in his account of the 7 years war. Overall if you are looking for a book that explains why the American Revolution began this is an excellent place to start and arguably the most pivotal moment in our history as it started the creation of the United States.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This concise and well written book deals with the North American consequences of British victory in the Seven Years War. The peace settlement and its sequelae contained the seeds of The American Revolution and are often discussed as a prelude to the Revolution. Most standard accounts of the period or histories of the Revolution discuss the impact of the peace settlement on the British colonies, the changing nature of British Imperial policies in the colonies, and the major effect on the relationship between the colonies and Britain proper. Rather than repeat this standard discussion, Calloway offers a broader and complementary survey of the impact of the post-war settlement on North American communities usually regarded as peripheral to the main story. Drawing on an impressive amount of recent scholarship, Calloway discusses the consequences of the peace settlement on Native American communities from the eastern seaboard to the Mississippi valley, the fate of French Canadians in both Quebec and the more peripheral parts of the North American French possessions, and even Spanish colonial administrators taking over Louisiana. Most attention is devoted to Native Americans, Calloway's specialty. The retreat of the French deprived many Native American communities of the diplomatic leverage inherent in playing the off the British against the French. Coupled with changes in commercial penetration made possible by the economically vigorous British Empire, there were huge changes in the lives of Native American communities all across the continent. Both in the case of Indian affairs and British administration of Quebec, the efforts of the British to control events and ensure stability had considerable negative consequences for the British relationship with the colonies. This book is an introduction and has an excellent bibliography which interested readers can use to pursue these topics in depth.
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