- The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America, and: Never Come to Peace Again: Pontiac’s Uprising and the Fate of the British Empire in North America
The Treaty of Paris in 1763 ended the Seven Years’ War between the empires of Great Britain and France. In the peace settlement, Great Britain won a substantial tract of American territory east of the Mississippi River. France relinquished claims to Canada, Louisiana, and lost a foothold in the lucrative fur-trade markets of the Great Lakes region and Ohio country. Peace, however, was only temporary. American Indian nations of the Ohio and Great Lakes, such as the Delaware, Western Seneca, Shawnee, Ottawa, Chippewa, and Miami bonded together in racial and political solidarity against a newly instituted British trade policy and the encroachment of American settlers on Indian land west of the Alleghenies. Under the [End Page 111] guidance of Pontiac (Ottawa), Neolin (Delaware), and Kiashuta (Seneca), a coalition of Indians attacked British forts as far west as Detroit and east of the Allegheny Mountains in the attack against Fort Bedford. In 1763 the British inherited title to the west, yet quickly lost its claim, as Pontiac’s War disrupted imperial hegemony on the frontiers of Pennsylvania and Virginia and the Ohio country, and thus halted Anglo expansion west. The year 1763 was indeed a pinnacle year in the advancement of these regions, of what could be called the first American frontier.
Colin G. Calloway, chair of Native American Studies at Dartmouth College, and David Dixon of Slippery Rock University have produced interesting works that focus on this northern Appalachian frontier in pre-Revolutionary America. Both scholars acknowledge that the consequences of the French and Indian War redefined Anglo America. Calloway concentrates on three foremost events of 1763: the Treaty of Paris, Pontiac’s War, and the establishment of the Royal Proclamation Line. He aptly demonstrates how they reshaped the political/cultural landscape of the Appalachian West. Dixon’s military study, as part of the University of Oklahoma Press’s “Campaigns and Commanders Series,” zeroes in on the specific events and personalities that embodied Pontiac’s pan-Indian uprising.
In The Scratch of a Pen, Calloway contends that the British had inherited an increasingly unstable frontier from their French rivals. He mentions that the racial violence of the French and Indian war had eroded the “middle grounds” that had been patiently established between white (mostly French) traders and western Indians (15). The British military was faced with keeping the peace amidst the negative racial climate fostered among western Indian nations. Calloway shows how the Treaty of Paris presented difficulties for the British by giving the Crown an ungovernable frontier—a periphery that was continually breached by the expansionist vigor of American settlers and populated by Indian nations on the verge of war. Calloway determines that imperial maintenance of such an expanse of territory became impossible without the termination of “salutary neglect,” an imperial policy that ignored colonial infractions against British economic interests. The new ministry, under First Lord of the Treasury George Grenville, attempted to reel in American colonial welfare and align those interests with imperial concerns. Calloway states that “by trying to bring colonies more closely into the empire, Britain produced American reactions that split the empire” (11).
Many imperial reforms centered on the American frontier and the restriction on colonial movement into the far reaches of the Appalachians. [End Page 112] Calloway quickly brings to the front his belief that the consequences of Pontiac’s War jettisoned the need for the British military to separate American settlers, such as the vigilante Paxton boys, from western Indians to prevent just such expensive frontier wars (92). Nevertheless, in order to accomplish this partitioning, the British ministry created a boundary of segregation between the two races. According to Calloway, the royal...