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

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9781400132331: 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." 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.

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About the Author:

Colin G. Calloway is Professor of History and Samson Occom Professor of Native American Studies at Dartmouth College. One Vast Winter Count received the Ray Allen Billington Prize, the Merle Curti Award, and many other prizes. It was also named one of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of the Year.

Simon Vance, a former BBC Radio presenter and newsreader, is a full-time actor who has appeared on both stage and television. He has recorded over eight hundred audiobooks and has earned five coveted Audie Awards, and he has won fifty-seven Earphones Awards from AudioFile magazine, which has named him a Golden Voice.

From AudioFile:

Simon Vance's British diction is well suited to the formal speech of eighteenth-century Americans, Indians, and Europeans in this seven-hour history lesson. Vance's narration brings clarity to the production as he is adept at indicating with subtle intonation when he is reading quotes from historical documents and when he is reading Calloway's narrative. The text needed a respected veteran narrator to counter its somewhat monotonous subject matter. The Indians didn't like the British, who didn't like the French, who didn't like the . . . you get the idea. It's interesting to note, though, how many of the centuries-old ethnic enclaves across Eastern and Midwest states survive today. D.J.M. © AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine

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