France Cedes Canada to Britain
The 10th of February 1763 AD
How is it that a treaty which in effect placed India in British hands; which ceded Canada and all French possessions east of the Mississippi to Britain; and which confirmed her possession of Granada, Minorca, Tobago, Dominica, St Vincent, and a foothold in Belize; could be seen as a betrayal and a demonstration of weakness by many inside and outside Parliament?
The Seven Years War is for many historians the first true world war (fought in Europe, Asia, and the Americas). Prime Minister the Earl of Bute was keen to end the conflict, as indeed were most Parliamentarians and the British elite: it had been hugely expensive and disruptive of trade.
But in return for a fine list of gains, or at least confirmations of British control, the main negotiator of the peace, the Duke of Bedford, returned Manila and Cuba to Spain, Guadeloupe, Saint Lucia, and Martinique with their huge sugar production to France (who chose them rather than Canada in the bargaining), along with the slaving post of Gorée island in Senegal. The agreement to allow Saint Pierre and Miquelon off the East Coast of Canada to be retained under French rule, a possible staging post for future action against Canada, was potentially another concern. Many, including the former Prime Minister Pitt the Elder , saw the fact that the peace had been negotiated without the participation of Britain’s key ally Frederick II of Prussia as simply wrong, storing up resentment for a later date as indeed it did.
In spite of these drawbacks and much public criticism of the treaty, it was passed overwhelmingly in Parliament . One unforeseen result, however, was that with the removal of the French threat in North America, the British colonies to the south of Canada would be emboldened in their resistance to control from London . Add to that the clumsy British attempts to recover some of the costs of the war from these colonies, and the loss of America to Britain in the following decade can be charted from the 1763 treaty.
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