October 31, 2010
Book Review on Colin Calloway’s “Scratch of a Pen”
In the minds of most Americans, the roots of the American Revolution are not generally connected with the Seven Years’ War (also known as the French and Indian War) or the Peace of Paris that ended it in the year 1763. The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, which is the year considered the most historically significant in terms of the Revolutionary War and America’s quest for freedom from the British monarchy. Historian Colin Calloway begs to differ, and presents his case in “The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America.” Calloway’s account, published by Oxford University Press in 2006, offers an abundance of evidence to support that the year 1763 was the major turning point in American history that set the stage for a revolution. As such, the book is fittingly included in the Oxford University Press series entitled Pivotal Moments in American History. Among the book’s mere 219 pages, Calloway illustrates how the signing of the Peace of Paris, i.e. the “scratch of a pen” impacted the lives of thousands of colonists.
The peace treaty signed in Europe in 1763 dictated that both France and Spain would surrender Canada and all territory east of the Mississippi River to Britain, bringing settlers, immigrants, and Indians in those areas under British rule. Calloway reveals the effects that the new British rule had on various peoples by describing their everyday lives and the challenges they faced as Britain commenced its heavy taxation on the American colonies and the Indians were being driven out of more of their lands. The 1763 Peace of Paris also gave Louisiana to Spain, which led to cultural development there as exiled Acadians settled there from Canada. The migration of people from one place to another throughout North America after the signing of the treaty in 1763 helped shape the country known as America today, for twenty...