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Royal Proclamation of 1763: Purpose and Significance

Steve Wiener, Ronald Kotlik
  • Author
    Steve Wiener

    Steve Wiener holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He has taught undergraduate classes in ancient and modern political theory, philosophy of history, American political thought, American government, the history the American Civil War, the philosophy of consciousness and rural populist movements in the American Midwest. He has over 20 years experience teaching college students in the classroom, as well as high school students and lifelong learners in a variety non-traditional settings.

  • Instructor
    Ronald Kotlik

    Ron has taught history and educational technologies at the high school and college level and has a doctorate in American History.

What was the Proclamation of 1763? Learn about the Proclamation Line of 1763, facts, and its effects, and learn the purpose of the proclamation of 1763. Updated: 08/13/2021

What was the Royal Proclamation of 1763?

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was a document outlining the organization and management of the lands in North America recently transferred from the French by the Treaty of Paris which ended the Seven Years War, which was also called The French and Indian War by the British colonists in America.

Who Issued the Royal Proclamation?

George III of the United Kingdom

George III

On October 7, 1763, the British King George III issued his Royal Proclamation of 1763.

What was the Purpose of the Royal Proclamation of 1763?

Along with the Treaty of Paris, signed by Britain and France on November 3, 1762, and put into effect on February 10, 1763, the Royal Proclamation provided for the organization and management of the territory newly acquired by Britain from France and it set limits to British colonial westward expansion.

The Proclamation Line of 1763

We've all seen 'No Trespassing' signs posted in various locations. These signs can be found everywhere, and the message is always clear—stay out! Now, imagine that you spend years struggling at work to save enough money to finally buy your own property and, to your horror and disbelief, someone has placed a dreaded 'No Trespassing' signs all over the property of your dreams. The bank that owns the land has decided not to sell at this time, dashing your hopes and aspirations.

Now, take the above scenario, and place it in the year 1763. For decades, British colonists living in places like Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia have had their eyes on some beautiful property located on the western side of the Appalachian Mountains. The area was fertile and unspoiled and perfect for setting and establishing farms and homesteads. However, in 1763, the British government decided to place figurative 'No Trespassing' signs on the border of this property, forbidding these colonists from expanding across the Appalachians Mountains. This 'No Trespassing' sign was known as the Proclamation Line of 1763. Issued by King George III, the proclamation prohibited settlers from crossing west over the Appalachian Mountains in order to prevent further conflicts between settlers and Native Americans.

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  • 0:00 The Proclamation Line of 1763
  • 1:24 Historical Origins
  • 3:27 Issuing the Proclamation
  • 4:04 Historical Consequences
  • 5:15 Lesson Summary
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Background and Context

The conflict between the British and the French in North America began in 1754 over who would control the land of the Ohio River Valley and became part of what Winston Churchill called the first global war when hostilities erupted in Europe in 1756, engulfing France, Britain, Spain, Saxony, Austria, and Prussia. The wars ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1763. The war in North America between France and Great Britain was a conflict of two imperialistic powers vying for control over North America and the Caribbean.

The French and Indian War

The global war between France and Great Britain was called The French and Indian War by the British colonists, and the War of Conquest by the French Canadians. Beginning in 1754, the British and their Native American allies (primarily the Iroquois, Catawba, and Cherokee nations) and the French and their Native American allies (primarily the Ottawa, Huron, Shawnee, and Abenaki nations) battled in an area from Virginia up to Newfoundland. Britain and France both suffered a loss of territory during the war, and both sides were weary of the War in 1762 and negotiated the Treaty of Paris to end it in 1763.

Treaty of Paris

The Treaty of Paris realigned the territories of France, Spain, and Great Britain in North America and the Caribbean. The British gained control of most of Canada. The French ceded all of their territory east of the Mississippi River to Great Britain and all territory west of the Mississippi to Spain including New Orleans. Spain, even though they had lost Havana to the British, would retain Cuba but they ceded Florida to the British. The French regained possession of all the Caribbean islands they had lost to the British in the War. No Native American nations were a part of the Treaty of Paris even though numerous nations had been allies of both the French and the British. This fact demonstrated that all European powers refused to acknowledge any claims of sovereignty other than their own.

Proclamation of 1763: Facts and Provisions

George III issued his Proclamation because he desired ''that all Our loving Subjects, as well of our Kingdom as of our Colonies in America, may avail themselves with all convenient Speed, of the great Benefits and Advantages which must accrue therefrom to their Commerce, Manufactures, and Navigation'' due to the acquisition of formerly French territory in North America.

Royal Proclamation of 1763

Royal Proclamation

The Proclamation established governments and delineated boundaries for the following territories gained from the French.

  • Quebec
  • East Florida
  • West Florida
  • Grenada

The Proclamation went into detail about how the colonial governors of the three new North American colonies should set up their administrations, courts and assemblies, and their dealings with new immigrants.

George III wanted to reward those who had fought in the French and Indian War on his behalf. The Proclamation established the rewards.

  • ''To every Person having the Rank of a Field Officer - 5,000 Acres''
  • ''To every Captain - 3,000 Acres''
  • ''To every Subaltern or Staff Officer - 2,000 Acres''
  • ''To every Non Commission Officer - 200 Acres''
  • ''To every Private Man - 50 Acres''

The King gave his governors the authorization to offer similar grants of land to members of the Navy.

The rest of the Royal Proclamation dealt with what has become known as The Proclamation Line, the limits that George III set against the westward expansion of British colonists.

The Proclamation Line

Royal Proclamation Line of 1763

Proclamation Line 1763

The Proclamation Line was an imaginary line running north and south along the top ridges of the Appalachian Mountains. This aspect of the Proclamation was to have enormous future consequences. George III first outlined the reason for the Line.

''And whereas it is just and reasonable, and essential to our Interest, and the Security of our Colonies, that the several Nations or Tribes of Indians with whom We are connected, and who live under our Protection, should not be molested or disturbed in the Possession of such Parts of our Dominions and Territories as, not having been ceded to or purchased by Us, are reserved to them, or any of them, as their Hunting Grounds.''

  • No Governor of any new or any old colony could offer any land grants passed the Proclamation Line
  • All land west from the Appalachians to the Mississippi River that was under British control was designated as a ''Reserve'' for the use of ''Said Indians.''
  • All ''Our loving Subjects'' were forbidden to purchase any land west of the Proclamation Line without the explicit approval of the Crown.
  • Any British settlers already living west of the Proclamation Line were commanded to ''remove themselves from such Settlements.''
  • No private individual would be allowed to purchase land in a private sale from any Native American nation. Such purchase could only be made by the Crown in a public meeting with the Native American Nation.

Historical Origins

French and Indian War

The origins of the proclamation begin in 1756, with the French and Indian War (also known as the Seven Years War). This conflict pitted England against France for control over North America. Before the war, England controlled the eastern seaboard of the present day United States and parts of upper Canada, while France controlled most of present day Canada and most of the land between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. Both countries coveted the Ohio River Valley, which became the contested border between the two expanding empires. Interestingly, the war began when the governor of Virginia sent a young George Washington into the Ohio River Valley to assess the French presence there and demand that they leave.

Virginians were especially interested in the Ohio River Valley as an area to expand settlement. This motivation was especially important when the proclamation line was put into place after the war. The war was extremely costly in both lives and money as it ravaged on for almost ten years. Many New Englanders contributed young men to the war effort and saw many of those young pay the ultimate sacrifice for their loyalty to the crown.

The Treaty of Paris and Pontiac's Rebellion

The Treaty of Paris (1763) officially ended the struggle, giving most of Canada and all land east of the Mississippi River to the British. Native Americans, who had been loyal to the French, felt especially dismayed by the treaty. No native delegation was permitted at the negotiations, and the French agreed to transfer their holdings to the British without consulting their native allies. Many tribes felt betrayed, since they still believed the Ohio River Valley to be under their control. The Ottawa tribe, under the leadership of Chief Pontiac, mounted a rebellion in 1763, against the British at Detroit. This attack encouraged other tribes in the Great Lakes to also rebel, leading to a larger conflict known as Pontiac's Rebellion. Even though the British put down this rebellion, King George III felt uneasy about the turbulent circumstance in this area.

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Video Transcript

The Proclamation Line of 1763

We've all seen 'No Trespassing' signs posted in various locations. These signs can be found everywhere, and the message is always clear—stay out! Now, imagine that you spend years struggling at work to save enough money to finally buy your own property and, to your horror and disbelief, someone has placed a dreaded 'No Trespassing' signs all over the property of your dreams. The bank that owns the land has decided not to sell at this time, dashing your hopes and aspirations.

Now, take the above scenario, and place it in the year 1763. For decades, British colonists living in places like Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia have had their eyes on some beautiful property located on the western side of the Appalachian Mountains. The area was fertile and unspoiled and perfect for setting and establishing farms and homesteads. However, in 1763, the British government decided to place figurative 'No Trespassing' signs on the border of this property, forbidding these colonists from expanding across the Appalachians Mountains. This 'No Trespassing' sign was known as the Proclamation Line of 1763. Issued by King George III, the proclamation prohibited settlers from crossing west over the Appalachian Mountains in order to prevent further conflicts between settlers and Native Americans.

Historical Origins

French and Indian War

The origins of the proclamation begin in 1756, with the French and Indian War (also known as the Seven Years War). This conflict pitted England against France for control over North America. Before the war, England controlled the eastern seaboard of the present day United States and parts of upper Canada, while France controlled most of present day Canada and most of the land between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. Both countries coveted the Ohio River Valley, which became the contested border between the two expanding empires. Interestingly, the war began when the governor of Virginia sent a young George Washington into the Ohio River Valley to assess the French presence there and demand that they leave.

Virginians were especially interested in the Ohio River Valley as an area to expand settlement. This motivation was especially important when the proclamation line was put into place after the war. The war was extremely costly in both lives and money as it ravaged on for almost ten years. Many New Englanders contributed young men to the war effort and saw many of those young pay the ultimate sacrifice for their loyalty to the crown.

The Treaty of Paris and Pontiac's Rebellion

The Treaty of Paris (1763) officially ended the struggle, giving most of Canada and all land east of the Mississippi River to the British. Native Americans, who had been loyal to the French, felt especially dismayed by the treaty. No native delegation was permitted at the negotiations, and the French agreed to transfer their holdings to the British without consulting their native allies. Many tribes felt betrayed, since they still believed the Ohio River Valley to be under their control. The Ottawa tribe, under the leadership of Chief Pontiac, mounted a rebellion in 1763, against the British at Detroit. This attack encouraged other tribes in the Great Lakes to also rebel, leading to a larger conflict known as Pontiac's Rebellion. Even though the British put down this rebellion, King George III felt uneasy about the turbulent circumstance in this area.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What were the 3 goals of the proclamation of 1763?

The goals of the Proclamation Line were to

1. Establish a ''reserve'' for Native American nations

2. Establish a Proclamation Line, a boundary between British colonists and Native Americans.

3. Establish four new colonies and their governments.

Why did the Proclamation Line of 1763 upset the colonists?

The colonists in American, especially those from Massachusetts and Virginia, were angry that the Proclamation Line set prohibition against British colonists settling past the Line. The colonists felt that their participation in the victory of the British over the French entitled them to possess the former French territory.

What was the Proclamation Line of 1763 and why was it significant?

The Proclamation Line was an imaginary boundary running generally along the highest points of the Appalachian Mountains which set a limit to the westward expansion of British colonists and established a ''reserve'' for Native Americans west of the Line.

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