“As long as the world has stood there has not been such a war,” declared a British emissary to the Delaware Indians. Britain’s victory fundamentally reshaped the world balance of power. In the Peace of Paris in 1763, France ceded Canada to Britain, receiving back in return the sugar islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique (far more lucrative colonies from the point of view of French authorities). As part of the reshuffling of imperial possessions, Spain ceded Florida to Britain in exchange for the return of the Philippines and Cuba (seized by the British during the war). Spain also acquired from France the vast Louisiana colony. France’s 200-year-old North American empire had come to an end. With the exception of two tiny islands retained by France off the coast of Newfoundland, the entire continent east of the Mississippi River was now in British hands.
“Peace,” remarked Prime Minister Pitt, “will be as hard to make as war.” Eighteenth-century warfare, conducted on land and sea across the globe, was enormously expensive. The Seven Years’ War put strains on all the participants. The war’s cost produced a financial crisis in France that almost three decades later would help to spark the French Revolution. The British would try to recoup part of the cost of war by increasing taxes on their American colonies. “We no sooner leave fighting our neighbors, the French,” commented the British writer Dr. Samuel Johnson, “but we must fall to quarreling among ourselves.” In fact, the Peace of Paris was soon followed by open warfare in North America between the British and Native Americans.