The Proclamation of 1763

With the American colonies growing, colonists had their sights set on new territory. They wanted to expand further West in hopes of owning their own land. The problem however, was that this land was already occupied by Native Americans. The British Empire had recently gained the territory from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River in their victory in the French and Indian War. 

To keep the peace, the British Empire enacted the Proclamation of 1763 which established a line on the British ruled territory between the Native Americans and the American colonists.

The Proclamation forbade colonists from settling past the line, and settlers who were already living there had to return. It also forbade colonists from trading and buying land from Native Americans. There were several main purposes for the proclamation. After the French and Indian War, the British were in much debt and could not administer the colonies well. Adding more land would make it even more difficult.

 

By creating the Proclamation line, the British kept the colonists close to the coast making it easier to tax them and regulate trade. Additionally, even though the French and Indian War was over, the French would most likely not give up their claims to the land in the Ohio Valley.

Many American Indian tribes, who had allied with the French in the war, were still fighting for control of their homeland. The British did not want colonists moving across the Appalachians and fueling tension with the French and Native Americans.

Sir William Johnson, superintendent of Indian Affairs in North America and agent to the Iroquois League, wrote in 1764 that, "The Indians all know we cannot be a match for them in the midst of an extensive woody Country ... from whence I infer that if we are determined to possess Our Posts and trade securely, it cannot be done for a Century by any other means than that of purchasing the favour of the numerous Indian inhabitants."

The Proclamation of 1763 created enormous resentment among the colonists towards Britain. They felt that it was unfair of Britain to forbid them from settling on the land because they helped Britain fight for it during French and Indian War. Some settlers ignored the Proclamation and moved onto the land creating conflict with the Native Americans that lived there. Pontiac's War, named for the great Odawa leader, was launched in 1763 by a loose confederation of tribes from the Great Lakes region, the Illinois Country, and Ohio Country who were unhappy with the British this and other policies. 

However, most American settlers chose to obey the Proclamation of 1763, possibly reducing the amount of conflict that could have occurred without it’s passage.

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