High School History Lesson Plans: The Proclamation of 1763

By Curt Smothers

The Proclamation of 1763 was Great Britain's response to the strains of a growing empire. King George III with a stroke of the pen closed down all Indian territories west of the Allegheny mountains to further white settlement and unauthorized land deals, causing deep resentment in the colonies.

Following the French and Indian War

In the aftermath of the French and Indian War, victorious Britain was faced with administering a vastly expanded empire. Business (or Proclamation of 1763 mercantile) interests required that the colonists be restricted to the Atlantic coast where they could be regulated and controlled. The colonists, however, viewed the victory over the French and Indians as a golden and hard-won opportunity to access the rich interior of the continent.

On the other hand, the Native American population in the Ohio Valley and west of the Alleghenies distrusted and rebelled against their new English masters. Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa led a pan-Indian uprising that was eventually put down, but proved costly and troublesome to the British, who were not ready to pacify an entire content.

Something had to be done. What the British Government did was to publish the Proclamation of 1763, which, among other things, essentially closed all Indian territory to colonial settlement and land deals.

Learning Objectives

After completing this lesson plan, students should be able to:

♦ Understand the colonial origins of conflict between American settlers and Native American tribes.

♦ View the Proclamation of 1763 from the following perspectives:

◊ The British Government: Mercantile interests and desire to keep the peace.

◊ The Colonists: Disappointment over the outcome of the French and Indian War. Colonists felt that the departure of the French would open the west.

◊ The Native American Tribes: Distrust of the British, who had already wiped out most of the Native population in the east. With the French gone, the tribes feared an unrestricted onslaught by greedy white settlers and land speculators.

Class Activities

Proclamation of 1763 1. Divide the class into three sections to represent the competing factions affected by the Proclamation of 1763. Ask each group to prepare presentation notes covering the following discussion items:

♦ The British Crown. Discuss the following:

◊ Why did the British need to confine their colonists to the Atlantic seaboard?

◊ Why did the British favor the Indians over the colonists?

◊ Did the British demonstrate concern and respect for the colonists? Why or why not?

♦ The colonists. Discuss the following:

◊ Why were the colonists so resentful with the closing of the Indian territories?

◊ What were the colonists’ attitude towards the Indians?

◊ How did the Proclamation of 1763 begin a growing resentment between the colonists and Great Britain?

♦ The Indians. Discuss the following:

◊ Why did the Indians distrust the British?

◊ Why did the Indians hate and fear the colonists?

◊ Did the Indians have any reason to believe that the British could enforce the Proclamation and keep settlers out?

2. Have each group make its own presentation covering the discussion items above. Remind the remainder of the class to take notes on each presentation.

3. Assign a homework essay on the foregoing topics. Each class section could either prepare an essay on their presentations, or, alternatively, prepare their essays on a topic presented by another section.

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