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British Actions After the French Indian War


The British had 10,000 troops in North America at the end of the French and Indian War. The British felt they had, and were, spending a great deal of money to defend the colonies. These massive forces were needed to protect the Colonists from Indian attacks. By war's end, the British found themselves in debt to the tune of 140 million pounds, an enormous sum for those times. The British tried to address both their problems: governing and protecting the Colonists, as well as, keeping their costs down. First, they issued new proclamations to protect the Indians from further encroachment by the colonists. They hoped this effort would decrease the violence between the Colonists and the Indians, thus decreasing the need for troops. Second, the British government decided to increase the enforcement of existing taxes on the Colonists and impose additional taxes, with the hopes of at least covering the cost of the British troops stationed in North America.

In 1763, the British issued the Proclamation of 1763. The proclamation tried to protect the Indians from further encroachments by the settlers. It said And whereas great Frauds and Abuses have been committed in purchasing Lands of the Indians, to the great Prejudice of our Interests and to the great dissatisfaction of the said Indians.Ó The proclamation outlawed the purchase of land from the Indian, unless the land was licensed by the British. The proclamation established a western boundary for colonial settlement, along the Appalachian Mountains. To the west the lands were reserved for the Indians. Text to Proclomation
The Colonists responded to the proclamation with a combination of anger and disdain. They were angry with the government for interfering and trying to limit their economic growth. They had disdain for the government, since in their view, there was little chance this proclamation could be enforced. The Colonists felt there was no way any proclamation could stop the natural movement of the Colonists westward.

The second British action was to pass the Revenue Act of 1764, otherwise known in the colonies as "The Sugar Act". The Sugar Act actually lowered the tax on molasses, a key import of the colonies. The previous tax was seldom enforced. The new act provided strong methods of enforcing the tariff on molasses. It also placed a tax on the importation of additional items, such as silks, wines and potash.

The American colonists responded with outrage to the new law. They took whatever actions they could to ignore defy the new laws. Often with the blatant help of colonial officials, molasses and other goods would be smuggled into the colonies without paying the required taxes. More on the response