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Pontiac's Revolt

Eventually, a daring plan emerged to drive the British back beyond the Allegheny Mountains, commonly known today as "Pontiac's Revolt." On May 7, 1763, the Indian leader Pontiac led about three hundred Indians toward "Fort Detroit." His plan was to gain admission for himself and a small group of warriors. Once inside he would attack the soldiers while throwing open the fort's gates and allowing his supporters beyond the stockade to rush inside and massacre the garrison. The British, however, had learned of the plan and were fully prepared to defend the fort. Although Pontiac and a few of his supporters did gain admission, the attack never took place. Instead the fort was besieged until the end of October, when Pontiac's forces surrendered and he himself left for Illinois.

Although Pontiac's revolt was a military failure, in many ways it was a diplomatic success. After the revolt British policy was modified. Most important, the Proclamation of 1763 formally banned new white settlement west of the Appalachian ridge. Annual gifts to the tribes began to flow again. As it had during the last years of French rule, Detroit benefitted handsomely from government expenditures designed to avert Indian wars. Detroit became one of the more important distribution centers for British presents to the Indians. These distributions could be substantial. In 1781, for example, the commandant of Detroit distributed goods valued at just over 100,000 pounds sterling, with a large percentage of that money quickly finding its way into the pockets of local merchants. Merchants benefitted in two ways: directly, from sales made as a result of British gifts to the Indians; and indirectly, because an increasing amount of the fur trade moved to Detroit as Indians began to deal more with Detroit merchants.

The home government recognized the importance of Detroit as a governmental administrative center in 1774 when the British Parliament enacted the Quebec Act. Placing all of the Northwest formally under the control of the British colonial officials located in Quebec, the act specified that one of four lieutenant governors was to be permanently located in Detroit.