Provisions For Defence Government And The Fur Trade
Amherst's plan for defence.—While the Spaniards were occupying western Louisiana the British were organizing the country ceded by France and Spain east of the Mississippi, in Canada, and in the West Indies. In 1763 the Secretary of War asked General Amherst, commander-in-chief in America, for a plan of defence of the British possessions. In response he drew up a "Plan of Forts and Garrisons prepared for the security of North America" which reveals England's outlook upon her newly acquired territory. It provided for ten regiments of approximately seven hundred and fifty men each. The stated purposes were: (1) to keep the king's new subjects in Canada and Louisiana "in due subjection," (2) to keep the old provinces "in a state of Constitutional Dependence upon Great Britain," (3) to command the respect of the Indians, (4) to prevent encroachments of the French or Spaniards, (5) and to protect the colonies in case of war. The regiments were to be distributed in posts along the St. Lawrence, about the Great Lakes, in the Illinois country, along the lower Mississippi, and in Nova Scotia, South Carolina, Georgia, and the Floridas.
Purposes regarding the West.—Regarding the interior posts the particular aims expressed were to keep open the navigation of the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes, maintain communication between Canada and the Gulf of Mexico, hold the western tribes in check, and guard against French or Spanish intrusion. A post at St. Augustine was especially desirable as a defence against Spain, and Pensacola and Mobile would command the commerce of the Gulf as well as the tribes of the Alabama Basin. The lower Mississippi posts were essential to control the Chickasaws. A post at Crown Point was not only needed to maintain a winter highway to Canada, but might also be useful to suppress disaffection in the maritime colonies, "who already begin to entertain some extraordinary Opinions, concerning their Relations to and Dependence upon the Mother Country."
The Proclamation of 1763.—In October, 1763, the king issued a proclamation creating, within the newly acquired territory, four distinct provinces, Quebec, East Florida, West Florida, and Grenada, and providing a form of government for them. Quebec comprised the Valley of the St. Lawrence from the western end of Anticosti Island to the 45th parallel and Lake Nipissing. Labrador, Anticosti, and the Magdalen Islands were attached to Newfoundland. St. Johns, Cape Breton, and the lesser adjacent islands were attached to Nova Scotia.
East Florida extended to Appalachicola River, and was bounded on the north by St. Mary's River and a line from the head of that stream to the junction of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers. The district between St. Mary's and Altamaha Rivers, formerly in dispute between Spain and England, was attached to Georgia. West Florida was the district south of latitude 310 and between the Appalachicola River and the Isle of Orleans. The Island of Grenada, the Grenadines, St. Vincent's, and Tobago were erected into the Government of Grenada.
Crown colonies created.—These new jurisdictions were made crown colonies. For each a governor was to be appointed, with power to call assemblies, "in such Manner and Form as is used and directed in the Colonies and Provinces in America which are under our immediate Government." Until such assemblies should meet, the governors, with their executive councils, were empowered to erect courts, having appeals to the privy council.
The Indian reservation.—For the time being all British possessions on the continent not included in the foregoing jurisdictions, or within the Territory of Hudson Bay, and all lands west or north of the streams flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, were reserved as crown lands for the use of the Indians. No colony might grant lands within this Indian reservation, and settlers were requested to move out. The considerable French settlements in the reserve were ignored.
Until 1755 the English government had managed its Indian affairs through the different colonies, but the results were far from satisfactory. In that year the government assumed political control over the Indians, creating a southern and a northern department, and appointing a superintendent for each. In 1761 the purchase of Indian lands was taken out of the hands of the colonies.
The New British Possessions, 1763-1783.
Regulation of Indian trade.—The acquisition of extensive territories in 1763 called for new trade regulations. The proclamation had created an Indian reserve and opened trade to all duly licensed subjects. In the following year Lord Hillsborough drew up a general plan for the management of Indians and the fur trade. It safeguarded the rights of the Hudson's Bay Company and provided for the continuation of the two superintendents, with three deputies for the northern and two for the southern district. In the North all trade must be conducted at regularly established posts, and in the South at the Indian towns. All traders must be licensed, must trade at schedule prices, and must have no dealings with Indians except at the prescribed places. By 1768 the plan had proved too expensive, and the management of the fur trade was restored to the individual colonies.
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