Pontiac's Rebellion

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In 1763, the Treaty of Paris brought the French and Indian War to a close. With England's victory in the conflict, all French lands in North America now belonged to the British. Native Americans in the Ohio Country feared the loss of their traditional ally and also believed that British settlers would be moving soon across the Appalachian Mountains. To prevent the incursion of whites, Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa natives encouraged Ohio Country natives to rise up in 1763. The Ottawas attacked Fort Detroit in May 1763. Many people today view this as the beginning of Pontiac's Rebellion. The Shawnee natives, the Munsee natives, the Wyandot natives, the Seneca natives, and the Delaware natives also raided British settlements in the Ohio Country and in western Pennsylvania during 1763. By late fall, the Native Americans had killed or captured more than six hundred people. Britain's only garrisoned fort in the Ohio Country, Fort Sandusky, fell to the Ottawas that same year. The thirteen soldiers inside the fort were killed.

In the autumn of 1764, the British military took the offensive against the natives. Colonel John Bradstreet and Colonel Henry Bouquet each launched invasions of the Ohio Country from Pennsylvania. Both men were successful in subduing the Native American population. Most of the Wyandots and Ottawas, but not Pontiac, surrendered to Bradstreet in September due to a lack of ammunition. The Native Americans, without their French allies, could not re-supply themselves with needed items. Bouquet forced the Senecas, the Shawnees, and the Delawares to surrender a month later. To avoid the English soldiers' wrath, the three tribes had to return all captives, including those who still wished to live as natives. All of the tribes reluctantly complied. In early November, Bouquet's army marched to Fort Pitt with more than two hundred former captives. Several fled back to the natives before even arriving at the fort.

Although Pontiac did not formally surrender to the British until July 1766, Pontiac's Rebellion had ended in the autumn of 1764. The uprising clearly shows the difficulties natives in the Ohio Country faced with France's withdrawal from North America. It also illustrates the tenuous grasp Britain had over the Ohio Country. Faced with large debts following the French and Indian War and fearful that further Native American uprisings would drain the British treasury even more, Britain enacted the Proclamation of 1763. This act hoped to prevent further tensions between the British and the Native Americans by forcing all colonists to live east of the Appalachian Mountains. The land west of the mountains was to be set aside for the Native Americans. This act did briefly improve relations between the two sides. Yet colonists soon ignored the provisions and moved into the Ohio Country. New bloodshed quickly followed.

See Also


  1. Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.