The Treaty of Paris of 1763 concluded the Seven Years’ War (1754–1763; known in North America as the French and Indian War). The treaty was negotiated by Great Britain, France, and Spain, with Portugal also signing. The companion Treaty of Hubertusburg ended the same war between Prussia, Saxony, and Austria. The Treaty of Paris facilitated the exchange of many colonial territories, including the transfer of most of France’s empire in the Americas to Great Britain and Spain. For American Indians, the treaty prompted years of political dislocation and conflict, as many of the Indian nations of Canada, the Great Lakes region, and the Ohio and Mississippi valleys that had been in alliance with France had to accommodate themselves to British sovereignty.
In North America, the Seven Years’ War pitted Great Britain, its colonies, and American Indian allies (primarily the Iroquois) against France and its Indian allies. After initial French successes, British forces won victories at Louisbourg (1758), Quebec (1759), and Montreal (1760) that vanquished French power in North America. Negotiations between the French and British governments to end the war began in September 1762. British prime minister John Stuart dispatched the duke of Bedford to negotiate with the French foreign minister, who in turn sent the duc de Nivernois to negotiate in London. A preliminary treaty was agreed upon on November 3, 1762, and the formal treaty signed at Paris on February 10, 1763.
Under the terms of the treaty, France was forced to transfer most of its American colonial holdings and claims to Great Britain, with some exceptions. France had secretly transferred its claim to the western Mississippi Valley (or the Louisiana Territory) to Spain the day after the preliminary peace of November 1762. Great Britain also allowed France to keep the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe and the right to maintain small fishing settlements on the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Great Britain was now the sovereign of all of eastern North America, winning Canada and eastern Louisiana from France and the Floridas from Spain. Britain also won territorial and trading concessions from Spain and France in Central America, Africa, and India.
With the British Empire the only European power exercising sovereign power in eastern North America, the new prime minister, George Grenville, put forward a series of policies to maintain order and gather revenue to repay Britain’s extensive war debt. Economization forced a decline in the number of trade goods distributed to the Indian peoples of the eastern woodlands, which helped trigger Pontiac’s Rebellion of 1763–1766. This violence spurred Grenville to push forward wartime plans to declare a permanent boundary between American Indian communities and European settlements. The result was the Royal Proclamation of 1763. It was not until a series of treaties in the late 1760s that most eastern Indians accepted British sovereignty. Additionally, the attempted closure of the trans-Appalachian region to European settlement angered many British colonists and helped fuel the discontent that culminated in the American Revolution.
See also American Revolutionary War (1775–1783); France, Indian Policy of; French and Indian War (1754–1763); Great Britain, Indian Policy of; Pontiac’s Rebellion; Proclamation of 1763.
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