Royal Proclamation of 1763

From Academic Kids

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was issued October 7, 1763 by the British government in the name of King George III to prohibit settlement by British colonists beyond the Appalachian Mountains in the lands captured by Britain from France in the French and Indian War/Seven Years' War and to end exploitative purchases of American Indian land.

The proclamation established requirements that had to be met before aboriginal land could be purchased, including one that the purchase must be approved by a meeting of all members of the people selling the land. Thus, the boundary line established by the proclamation (often called the proclamation line) was not intended to be a permanent boundary between white and Indian lands (as is sometimes believed), but rather a temporary boundary which could be extended further west in an orderly, lawful manner. The proclamation line was adjusted in the Treaty of Fort Stanwix of 1768.

The British government issued the proclamation in hopes of avoiding the expense of frontier warfare. (The proclamation was issued after the outbreak of Pontiac's War, though it had been in the works before that conflict.) The proclamation was largely ignored on the ground (in particular in settlements already established in the prohibited area) but its very existence created a large amount of resentment among the British colonists (especially in Virginia) and was one of the factors leading to the American Revolutionary War.

After the American Revolutionary War, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 became a dead letter in the United States, but continued to govern the cession of aboriginal land in British North America, especially Upper Canada and Rupert's Land. The proclamation forms the basis of land claims of aboriginal peoples in Canada – First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 is mentioned in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Besides restricting colonial expansion, however (colonial land grants were generally accepted to stretch in an unbroken strip along the continent), the proclamation dealt with the management of newly ceded French colonies. It established government for four areas: Quebec, West Florida, East Florida, and Grenada. All of these were granted the ability to elect general assemblies under a royally appointed governor and high council, which could then create laws and ordinances specific to the area in agreement with British and colonial laws. In the meantime, the new colonies enjoyed the same rights as native-born Englishmen, something that British colonists had been fighting over for years. An even bigger affront to the British colonies was the establishment of both civil and criminal courts complete with the right to appeal; those being tried for breaking the Stamp or Sugar Act were tried instead in admiralty court, where the defendant was considered guilty until he or she could prove their innocence.

A reform that would have benefited the British colonists was the opening of Indian trade to all. With a free license in hand, a colonist could trade at will -- of course, they would have to acknowledge British authority on Indian trade regulation, something many were happy to ignore.

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