Treaty of Paris (1763) – Key Provisions, Outcomes & Significance
On Thursday, February 10, 1763, negotiators from primarily three great European nations met in Paris, France, to put pen to paper and sign the Treaty of Paris (1763). This resolution brought to an end the French and Indian Wars (also known as the Seven Years’ War, 1754 – 1763).
The three main signatories to the treaty were Great Britain, France, and Spain. Being the vanquished nations in the war, France and Spain (as well as their allies) came out of the treaty with significantly reduced territories. France, in particular, had to relinquish all its mainland North American territories to Great Britain. This propelled Great Britain to the enviable status of being the dominant nation in all of North America.
In order to discover which territories were won or lost after curtains closed in on the Seven Years’ War, we present to you the key provisions, outcome, and significance of the Treaty of Paris in 1763.
Brief History of the Seven Years’ War
The Seven Years’ War was an Anglo-French war that put Great Britain on one side against France on the other side. It is largely considered the first type of war to span the globe. About two centuries later, the famous British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill would describe the Seven Years’ War as humanity’s first real-world war.
The War raged on in North America, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Philippines. On one side, you had Great Britain and her allies – Prussia, Portugal, and Hanover. On the other side, there was France, backed by Austria, Russia, Sweden, Saxony, and the mighty Empire of Spain.
Britain’s biggest peeve was France’s dominance in the commercial trading routes on the high seas. Under its monarch, King George III, Britain hoped to curtail France’s dominance around the world, especially in North America – a continent that was the epicenter of the war.
The American colonists were very suspicious of their French neighbors. Hence, they enlisted the help of their overlords, Great Britain, to protect them. Among many colonists, the war was also known as the French and Indian War.
This fight for greater territories in North America, as well as around the world, spanned for 9 long years. In the end, Great Britain and her allies came out victors. Although it came at a huge financial cost, King George III’s Britain successfully took several French and Spanish-held territories. For example, France completely surrendered New France (primarily Quebec) to Britain on September 8, 1760. With Britain occupying the higher ground, France and Spain had to come to the negotiating table and sign the Treaty of Paris on February 10, 1763, in Paris.
Terms of the Treaty of Paris in 1763
On the day of the signing, the negotiators from Britain, France, and Spain were as follows: John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford; César Gabriel de Choiseul, Duke of Praslin; and Jerónimo Grimaldi, 1st Duke of Grimaldi respectively. The preliminary Treaty of Paris was signed on November 3, 1762.
In retrospect, the terms of the Treaty of Paris were extremely harsh to the French. They were the losing nation from the Seven Years’ War alright. The following briefly summarizes the territories that each country gained under the articles of the Treaty of Paris 1763. Remember, someone’s gain is another’s loss.
Great Britain’s Gains
According to terms of the peace treaty, France had to part ways with virtually all her territories in mainland North America – New France. What this meant was that the entirety of present-day Canada was handed over to Great Britain by France. King George III took hold of famous French settlements like Quebec in Canada.
Also, French Louisiana territory east of the Mississippi (excluding New Orleans) went to Great Britain. The Louisiana territory that France ceded to Britain spanned from Mississippi River to the Appalachian Mountains. New Orleans had already been given to Spain in 1762 under the Treaty of Fontainebleau.
The islands of Grenada, Dominica, Saint Vincent, and Tobago were also renounced by the French. The terms of the treaty also stated that the French were to surrender territories gained in India since 1749. Concessions from Spain came in the form of giving Florida to Britain.
France had the option to choose between the entire New France territory and the minuscule Caribbean islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon. King Louis XV of France chose to those Caribbean islands over Canada. This was due to the immense amount of money that those islands generated in terms of sugar cane. Besides, the vast French territories in Canada were by then barren wildernesses, proving very difficult and costly to administer.
It must be noted that France was allowed to keep fishing rights in Newfoundland and the Gulf of St Lawrence.
Britain gave back France trading stations and installations in Bengal, India and Île de Gorée, Senegal.
Also, these West Indian islands and territories were restored to France: Guadeloupe, Désirade, Martinique, Marie-Galante, and Saint Lucia. As a sign of good faith, France pulled its troops from Hanover, Brunswick, and Hesse.
As part of the Treaty of Paris in 1763, Spain got back Havana (Cuba) and Manila territories. The Spanish did, however, have to give East and West Florida to Great Britain.
In a very secretive deal a year prior to Treaty in Paris, France relinquished New Orleans and West Louisiana to Spain. The treaty between France and Spain in 1762 was called the Treaty of Fontainebleau. This treaty remained secret and only came to light in 1764.
Why were Lord Bute and George III so eager to end the war?
Unlike his grandfather George II, George III was more eager to wrap things up and bring the war to a close. Likewise, British Prime Minister John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, did not want the war to prolong any further. It had simply become too costly and the British treasury was fast depleted.
Managing all the territories acquired would have been a herculean task for George III. He was also conscious of the fact that making some concessions would go a long way in appeasing Spain and France, thereby, preventing any future wars from erupting.
Bute’s opinion was shared by George III. The king did not want to acquire as much territory as his earlier Secretary of State William Pitt had wanted. With the British purse running empty, George feared that an extremely large empire was bound to become very expensive to administer. The king’s primary objective was to bring an end to the war. He also reasoned that further and unnecessary humiliation of France and Spain during the peace negotiation process would plunge his country into another war with them.
Many of Bute’s fellow parliamentarians wanted the opposite. For example, William Pitt, the Elder, considered the treaty a bad deal. He believed that it gave both France and Spain ample time and territories to one day regroup and strike back at Great Britain. Similarly, the British public did not like some of the concessions that King George III and his ministers made.
In the end, however, the Treaty was ratified by the British Parliament with 319 ayes as against 64 nays.
Great Britain’s Administration of Canada
Britain let French settlers in Canada freely practice their Catholic faith because they did not want to infuriate France and force it into a second war.
Had Britain expelled French settlers in Canada, the French settlers will move to other France controlled areas and bolster France’s grip on North America. Granting French Canadians some amount of religious freedom to practice their faith was Britain’s way of keeping the newly acquired territories peaceful.
The Treaty also allowed for an 18-month period for French Canadians to emigrate if they so desired. However, there were accusations of nepotism and favoritism. The British made sure that the majority of the public judicial positions went to Protestants in Canada.
Special Provisions for Quebec, Canada
Quebec was granted some level of autonomy in terms of using French laws. Barring the prerogative of the king, British laws allowed for colonies abroad to keep their some amount of their own laws, religious beliefs, and systems of governance. For example, Britain allowed French laws to be used in lower courts in Quebec. The judge was British however. In the upper courts, not only were the jurors British or Protestants, but the judge was also British. In many cases, the jurors were not abreast of French laws.
Significance of the Treaty of Paris 1763
It brought to an end not just the Seven Years’ War but also an end of hostilities that had plagued those European nations for close to a century.
Great Britain became the undisputed master of North America. However, this came at huge cost to the British. The war had cost the King and the British Parliament an absolute fortune to wage. Britain was plunged into severe debt.
The Aftermath of the Peace Treaty of 1763
The events that took place after the Treaty gradually sowed deep divisions between Great Britain and the American Colonists. It even caused the breakout of the American Revolution. Here is how:
Great Britain had incurred a fortune fighting a war on behalf of the American colonists – people that on the streets of London were regarded as uncouth, lacking manners and culture. The British Parliament devised a strategy to make the Americans pay for all the monies that were spent “protecting” the American colonies during the Seven Years’ War. Therefore, King George III gave ascent to laws that heavily taxed the colonies.
On the other hand, the American Colonists despised their British masters for being too high and mighty, perhaps proud. They considered them too bossy and controlling. Hence they conspired to overthrow them, kick them completely out of their lands. Influential colonists and businessmen went completely incensed over what they considered unfair taxation. The idea of paying a draconian sort of tax was something that never sat well with the 13 American colonies.
On paper, the Treaty of Paris in 1763 seemed like it would have brought the American colonies closer to their British overlords, ended up being a thorn in the flesh of both sides. Rather than share the spoils of war, the Treaty went on to light a match that resulted in the American Revolution. It literally ushered in close to four decades of animosity (that is the American Revolution) between America and their British cousins.
Another issue that soured the relationship between Britain and the American colonist was the Proclamation of 1763. As a result of the Paris Treaty of 1763, King George III subsequently sent out the Royal Proclamation of 1763. This proclamation was aimed at assuaging fears that Native Americans had about American colonies expanding westward. The Indians’ cries to the king were heard. The king issued an order that barred American colonists from encroaching into Native American lands beyond the Proclamation Line.
All in all, the American colonies once again had a common enemy. This time around it was not France, it was their own overlords, George III and the British Parliament. The spirit of nationalism was sky high, and this spurred 13 American colonies to kick start the American Revolution.
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