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Proclamation Of 1763 : Native Lands Essay

One of the biggest problems confronting the British Empire in 1763 was controlling land speculators in both Europe and the British colonies whose activities often led to frontier conflicts. [2] Many Native American peoples—primarily in the Great Lakes region—had a long and close relationship with France, and were dismayed to find that they were now under British sovereignty. Pontiac’s Rebellion (1763–66) was an unsuccessful effort by Native Americans to prevent Great Britain from occupying the land previously claimed by France.

The Proclamation of 1763 had been in the works before Pontiac’s Rebellion, but the outbreak of the conflict hastened the process. [3] British officials hoped the proclamation would reconcile Aboriginals to British rule and thus help to prevent future hostilities. The proclamation created a boundary line (often called the proclamation line) between the British colonies on the Atlantic coast and American Indian lands (called the Indian Reserve) west of the Appalachian Mountains.

The proclamation line was not intended to be a permanent boundary between white and Aboriginal lands, but rather a temporary boundary which could be extended further west in an orderly, lawful manner. [4][5] Its contour was defined by the headwaters that formed the watershed along the Appalachia—all land with rivers that flowed into the Atlantic was designated for the colonial entities while all the land with rivers that flowed into the Mississippi was reserved for the native Indian population.

The proclamation outlawed private purchase of Native American land, which had often created problems in the past; instead, all future land purchases were to be made by Crown officials “at some public Meeting or Assembly of the said Indians”. Furthermore, British colonists were forbidden to move beyond the line and settle on native lands, and colonial officials were forbidden to grant grounds or lands without royal approval.

The proclamation gave the Crown a monopoly on all future land purchases from American Indians. Almost immediately, many British colonists and land speculators objected to the proclamation boundary, since there were already many settlements beyond the line[3] (some of which had been temporarily evacuated during Pontiac’s War), as well as many existing land claims yet to be settled. Indeed, the proclamation itself called for lands to be granted to British soldiers that

had served in the Seven Years’ War. Prominent American colonists joined with land speculators in Britain to lobby the government to move the line further west. As a result, the boundary line was adjusted in a series of treaties with Native Americans. The Treaty of Fort Stanwix and the Treaty of Hard Labour (both 1768) and the Treaty of Lochaber (1770) opened much of what is now West Virginia and Kentucky to British settlement.


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