Proclamation of 1763
Following the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1763) thus ending the French and Indian War, there was an immediate uprising of American Indian tribes living in the Great Lakes region. Numerous American Indians were distraught over the policies introduced by the British monarchy to handle the division of land between the colonies and the tribes. In response to their growing frustration many tribes congregated under the leadership of the Ottawa chief, Pontiac. Their main aspiration throughout the execution of Pontiac's War (1763-64) was to repel colonists who settled in American Indian lands in the Ohio Country. This conflict represented the deep tensions that surrounded the relationship between the British colonies and the American Indian tribes, and was a signal of the continuing onslaught of Anglo-American incursion into American Indian lands. The British monarchy decided to address the problematic situation by developing a piece of legislation that sought to subdue the hostilities. On October 7, 1763 the British Board of Trade under approval of King George III issued the Proclamation of 1763.
This Proclamation established a variety of limiting legislature in regards to interaction with the American Indians, boundaries for territories, and governmental responsibility. The Proclamation Line, a component of the Proclamation itself, was issued to illustrate the geographical limitations of colonial settlement. Any land that resided west of the Appalachian Mountains: from the southern area of Hudson Bay to the northern lands above Florida were all to be preserved for American Indian reservations. Colonists were immobile to those lands and any member of the British colonies who had been residing in that region during the time of issuing had to relocate back within the colonial divide. Since these lands were obtained by Great Britain as a reward through the defeat of France they were still owned by the monarchy. However, to reduce friction, the American Indian reservations were to be controlled by American Indian law and cultural policy with no interference from the colonial government. Colonists were also barred from having any interaction with the people who resided within the American Indian territory; trading between the two groups was no longer permitted. With the restriction of colonists solely to the inner, eastern coastlines the colonial government would now have an easier time to successfully execute and regulate taxing burdens on the citizenry; a noted strategy by the government to ease their way out of wartime debt. Overall, the Proclamation of 1763 disbanded the colonial ambition to expand into the westward frontier.
The Proclamation of 1763 also founded four new colonies that were obtained in the aftermath of the French and Indian War. These new settlements were: Quebec, West Florida, East Florida, and Grenada. Boundaries were set to define the stretch of each colony while also establishing local governments to manage the different regions. The execution of the Proclamation somewhat tamed the uneasiness between the colonists and the Native Americans but minimal issues continued to persist.
Colonists were unnerved by the issuing of this Proclamation based on their desire to expand their settlements and acquire new territory. They felt that due to Great Britain's victory there was an unspoken right to the lands now overtaken by the reservation. The Proclamation did not prevent colonists from continuing their pursuit of new land as many disregarded the provisions and continued their journey toward westward settlements. American Indians were displeased with the colonists' blatant violation of the Proclamation; and conflict continued. Finally, the Proclamation also heightened the colonists dissatisfaction with British rule within the colonies. They did not appreciate the restriction of their travels or the limitations on their trading abilities. Eventually, paired with the various economic acts that the British government would come to pass to eliminate their growing debt the Proclamation fueled tensions between the monarchy and the colonists thus leading to the development of the American Revolution.
- Anderson, Fred. Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766. New York: Alfred A. Knopf: Random House, 2000.
- Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.