The 1763 Peace (or Treaty) of Paris ending the “French and Indian” or Seven Years War literally redrew the map of continental North America, leaving it divided between British and Spanish zones1 separated by the Mississippi.
Late-19th century American historian Francis Parkman’s famous quip that “[h]alf the continent had changed hands at the scratch of pen” actually referred not to the Paris treaty itself, but to the 1760 French capitulation to converging British armies at Montreal.2 Still, Parkman’s phrase captures the scale of the continent’s geopolitical reordering, if not the real complexity of the underlying diplomacy.
As the interactive map below demonstrates, 1763 truly brought the curtain down on the French imperial presence on mainland North America. Click the white arrow and drag down to see the geopolitical transformations 1763 wrought, or click this text to download printable comparative maps.
1The treaty text itself confirmed French retention of New Orleans and their claims to lands west of the river, but Versailles had secretly ceded these to its ally Spain, which under the treaty was obliged to cede Florida to Britain in order to get Havana back from its conquerors.
2 Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, Vol. II (Boston, 1884)
SOURCES:Colin G. Calloway, The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America (Oxford, 2006)
Cole Harris and Geoffrey J. Matthews, eds., Historical Atlas of Canada, Vol. 1 (Toronto, 1987), “European Territorial Claims, 1713-1763”
John Mitchell, A Map of the British Colonies in North America (London, 1775), manuscript annotations from 1898, Osher Map Library, Smith Center for Cartographic Education, University of Southern Maine [Click this reference to directly access map]
Consultations with Mathew H. Edney, Osher Professor in the History of Cartography, University of Southern Maine
Map rendering by Amanda McCorkle/ColorQuarry, modifications by Marta Radman-Livaja and Donald C. Carleton, Jr.