chapter  2
British North America in 1763
Pages 18

In February of 1763 the major European powers, including France and Britain, agreed on a peace treaty at Paris that brought an end to the Seven Years’ War. That conflict, known in Britain’s North American colonies as the French and Indian War, was the culmination of a prolonged struggle for imperial mastery between France and Britain which persisted throughout the eighteenth century. In its North American dimension, France had initially enjoyed success during the war, inflicting a series of humiliating defeats on British and colonial forces with the help of her Indian allies. Eventually the British recovered, capturing Quebec in 1759 and Montreal in 1760, as well as a number of French possessions in the West Indies. Under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, France ceded to Britain all of her territory in North America east of the Mississippi River (with the exception of New Orleans). In return, France retained fishing rights on the Newfoundland Banks, as well as the small north Atlantic islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon. In addition, Britain returned captured French colonies in the West Indies, including Martinique and Guadeloupe. Spain, which fought unsuccessfully as an ally of France, ceded Florida to Britain but was compensated by France with all French territory west of the Mississippi, and New Orleans. The geopolitical results of this diplomatic settlement were profound. After nearly two centuries, France had been removed from North America and Britain was nominally the master of all the vast territory of eastern North America, from the Atlantic west to the Mississippi and from Hudson Bay in the north to the Florida Everglades in the south. Winning this territory at the negotiating table would prove less difficult than governing it. Pontiac’s uprising revealed in a particularly bloody fashion the difficulties empire in America would hold for a succession of British governments.