1763: The Treaty of Paris & Other Quebec Curios

Part of “Je me souviens: New France, 1534–1763”

While the surrender of Montreal is commonly regarded as the de facto end of the Seven Years’ War, the war would in fact continue on for another three years. This is due to the fact that wars still went on in Europe, though by 1760, most of the wars in the New World had already ceased, with the exception of one last battle in which the French claimed Newfoundland in 1762. New France, however, lay in shambles: Quebec and Montreal had both been captured by the British. General Vaudreuil, largely responsible for many actions in the course of the conflict, including the negotiations of the capitulation of Montreal, left New France for his native homeland. Shamed as the person who lost the colony, Vaudreuil was briefly imprisoned in the Bastille in 1762 before being tried and exonerated the following year, but never managed to recover his former glory as a military man. Back in New France, major general Jeffrey Amherst was in charge of Montreal, while James Murray was the military governor in control of Quebec. By February of 1763, the great powers involved in the war—Britain and France, as well as their allies—sat down at the table to conduct peace negotiations.

The most famous cession involved in the Treaty of Paris is that of New France, which the French gave over to the British, while the British agreed to recognise the right to practice the Catholic faith. Spain, an ally of France, ceded the territory of Florida over to the British as well. What was left over of France’s glory days in North America were two little islands, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and fishing rights off of Newfoundland. As a concession, the British ceded Guadeloupe, a colony known for its sugar production, to the French. Native rights, on the other hand, were secured via a British treaty conducted by James Murray, concluded well before the treaty in 1760 and extended peace and friendship to the Native Americans in the area, a document whose words are upheld to this day.

The signing of the Treaty of Paris had mixed reactions among the French and the British. Voltaire, the French intellectual, dismissed the cession of New France as a “couple small acres of snow”, while William Pitt, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, was unsatisfied with the treaty and wished to start another war with France in order to teach them a lesson. Pitt’s plans, however, were never realised, as the country was suffering from a crippling debt, for the most part Pitt’s responsibility due to the game of alliances that he played during the war.

As the new king of the territory, the English king, George III, would sign a controversial document in the same year as the Treaty to determine the territories of the Native Americans in the land as well as settlement boundaries. Some people would argue that the Americans would use this proclamation as an incentive to start their own war for independence. Paris would be the location, only twenty years later, of the conclusion of the peace treaty for America’s own war.