Royal Proclamation of 1763

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A portion of eastern North America; the 1763 "proclamation line" is the border between the red and the pink areas

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was issued October 7, 1763, by King George III following Great Britain's acquisition of French territory in North America after the end of the French and Indian War/Seven Years' War, in which it forbade all settlers from settling past a line drawn along the Appalachian Mountains,[1]The purpose of the proclamation was to organize Great Britain's new North American empire and to stabilize relations with Native North Americans through regulation of trade, settlement, and land purchases on the western frontier. The Royal Proclamation continues to be of legal importance to First Nations in Canada and is significant for the variation of indigenous status in the United States. It eventually ensured that British culture and laws were applied in Upper Canada after 1791, which was done to attract British settlers to the province. Its geographic location is similar to the Eastern Continental Divide's path running northwards from Georgia to the Pennsylvania-New York State border, and north-eastwards past the drainage divide on the "St. Lawrence Divide" from there northwards through New England.

Background[edit]

The Treaty of Paris was the conclusion of the Seven Years' War or the French and Indian War, the North American theater of the Seven Years' War.[2] Under this treaty, France ceded enormous areas to British Crown control. These areas were all of continental North America east of the Mississippi River, including Quebec.

Provisions[edit]

New colonies[edit]

Besides regulating colonial expansion, the Proclamation of 1763 dealt with the management of inherited French colonies from the French and Indian war. It established government for four areas: Quebec, West Florida, East Florida, and Grenada.

Native lands[edit]

One of the biggest problems confronting the British Empire in 1763 was controlling land speculators in both Europe and the British colonies whose activities often led to frontier conflicts.[3] Some Native American peoples—primarily in the Great Lakes region—had a long and close relationship with France, and were dismayed to find that they were now under British sovereignty. They resented British treatment of their peoples as officers such as Lord Amherst expressed their contempt for Native Americans and did not follow established customs of diplomacy, such as gift exchanges. Pontiac's Rebellion (1763–66) was an unsuccessful effort by Native Americans to prevent Great Britain from occupying the land previously claimed by France. The Proclamation of 1763 had been in the works before Pontiac's Rebellion, but the outbreak of the conflict hastened the process.[4] British officials hoped the proclamation would reconcile Aboriginals to British rule and help to prevent future hostilities.

The proclamation created a boundary line (often called the proclamation line) between the British colonies on the Atlantic coast and American Indian lands (called the Indian Reserve) west of the Appalachian Mountains. The proclamation line was not intended to be a permanent boundary between white and Aboriginal lands, but rather a temporary boundary which could be extended further west in an orderly, lawful manner.[5][6] Its contour was defined by the headwaters that formed the watershed along the Appalachia—all land with rivers that flowed into the Atlantic was designated for the colonial entities, while all the land with rivers that flowed into the Mississippi was reserved for the native Indian population. The proclamation outlawed private purchase of Native American land, which had often created problems in the past; instead, all future land purchases were to be made by Crown officials "at some public Meeting or Assembly of the said Indians". Furthermore, British colonists were forbidden to move beyond the line and settle on native lands, and colonial officials were forbidden to grant grounds or lands without royal approval. The proclamation gave the Crown a monopoly on all future land purchases from American Indians.

Almost immediately, many British colonists and land speculators objected to the proclamation boundary. It was thought as a prize to have the land west of the colonies, and colonists were disappointed that they were not allowed to cross the boundary.[citation needed] There were also already many settlements beyond the line[4] (some of which had been temporarily evacuated during Pontiac's War), as well as many existing land claims yet to be settled. Prominent American colonists joined with land speculators in Britain to lobby the government to move the line further west. As a result, the boundary line was adjusted in a series of treaties with Native Americans. The Treaty of Fort Stanwix and the Treaty of Hard Labour (both 1768) and the Treaty of Lochaber (1770) opened much of what is now West Virginia and Kentucky to British settlement.

Legacy[edit]

Indigenous People of Treaty Six Territory[edit]

For more details on Canadian Aboriginal legacy, see The Canadian Crown and Indigenous peoples.

The Royal Proclamation continued to govern the cession of Indigenous land in British North America, especially Upper Canada and Rupert's Land. The proclamation forms the basis of land claims of Indigenous peoples in Canada – First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 is thus mentioned in section 25 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

According to historian Colin Calloway, "[settler] scholars disagree on whether the proclamation recognized or undermined tribal sovereignty".[7] The proclamation established the important precedent that the indigenous population had certain rights to the lands they occupied.

Some see the Royal Proclamation of 1763 as a “fundamental document” for First Nations land claims and self-government.[8] It is “the first legal recognition by the British Crown of Aboriginal rights"[9] and imposes a fiduciary duty of care on the Crown. The intent and promises made to the native in the Proclamation have been argued to be of a temporary nature, only meant to appease the Native peoples who were becoming increasingly resentful of “settler encroachments on their lands”[10] and were capable of becoming a serious threat to British colonial settlement.[11][12] An advice given by a merchant to the Board of Trade on August 30, 1764 expressed that

The Indians all know we cannot be a Match for them in the midst of an extensive woody Country...from whence I infer that if we are determined to possess Our Posts, Trade & ca securely, it cannot be done for a Century by any other means than that of purchasing the favour of the numerous Indian inhabitants.[13]

Some historians claim that “the British were trying to convince Native people that there was nothing to fear from the colonists, while at the same time trying to increase political and economic power relative to First Nations and other European powers.”[14] However, the Royal Proclamation along with the subsequent Treaty of Niagara, provide for an argument that “discredits the claims of the Crown to exercise sovereignty over First Nations”[15] and affirms Aboriginal “powers of self-determination in, among other things, allocating lands.”[16] Further so, the Royal Proclamation outlined a policy in which to protect Aboriginal rights and in doing so, recognized these rights existed.

United States[edit]

USA Proclamation of 1763 Silver Medal. Franklin Mint Issue 1970.

The influence of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 on the coming of the American Revolution has been variously interpreted. Many historians argue that the proclamation ceased to be a major source of tension after 1768, since the aforementioned treaties opened up extensive lands for settlement. Others have argued that colonial resentment of the proclamation contributed to the growing divide between the colonies and the mother country. Some historians argue that even though the boundary was pushed west in subsequent treaties, the British government refused to permit new colonial settlements for fear of instigating a war with Native Americans, which angered colonial land speculators.[17] Others argue that the Royal Proclamation imposed a fiduciary duty of care on the Crown.

George Washington was given 20,000 acres (81 km2) of wild land in the Ohio region for his services in the French and Indian War. In 1770, Washington took the lead in securing the rights of him and his old soldiers in the French War, advancing money to pay expenses in behalf of the common cause and using his influence in the proper quarters. In August 1770, it was decided that Washington should personally make a trip to the western region, where he located tracts for himself and military comrades and eventually was granted letters patent for tracts of land there. The lands involved were open to Virginians under terms of the Treaty of Lochaber of 1770, except for the lands located 2 miles south of Fort Pitt, now known as Pittsburgh.[18]

In the United States, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 ended with the American Revolutionary War because Great Britain ceded the land in question to the United States in the Treaty of Paris (1783). Afterward, the U.S. government also faced difficulties in preventing frontier violence and eventually adopted policies similar to those of the Royal Proclamation. The first in a series of Indian Intercourse Acts was passed in 1790, prohibiting unregulated trade and travel in Native American lands. In 1823, the U.S. Supreme Court case Johnson v. M'Intosh[19] established that only the U.S. government, and not private individuals, could purchase land from Native Americans.

250th anniversary celebrations[edit]

In October 2013 the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation was celebrated in Ottawa with a meeting of Indian leaders and Governor-General David Johnston.[20] The aboriginal movement Idle No More held birthday parties for this monumental document at various locations across Canada.[21]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Royal Proclamation I
  2. ^ American Republic, Third Edition by Rachel C. Larson, PhD
  3. ^ Arnold, Richard (2011). Americana Redux. Kansas: Talkingpipe. ISBN 978-0-615-28722-5. 
  4. ^ a b Gordon S. Wood, The American Revolution, A History. New York, Modern Library, 2002 ISBN 0-8129-7041-1, p.22
  5. ^ Harvey Markowitz, American Indians (1995) p. 633
  6. ^ Louis De Vorsey, The Indian boundary in the southern colonies, 1763–1775 (1966) p. 39.
  7. ^ Calloway, Scratch of a Pen, 93.
  8. ^ Borrows, “Wampum", 155.
  9. ^ Douglas R. Francis, Richard Jones and Donald B. Smith, Origins: Canadian History to Confederation 6th ed. (Toronto: Nelson Education Ltd., 2009), 157.
  10. ^ Francis et al., Origins, 156.
  11. ^ Jack Stagg, Anglo-Indian Relations In North America to 1763 and An Analysis of the Royal Proclamation of 7 October 1763, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Research Branch, 1981, 356.
  12. ^ Borrows, "Wampum," 158–159.
  13. ^ Quoted in Native Liberty, Crown Sovereignty: The Existing Aboriginal Right of Self-Government in Canada, Bruce Clark. (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1990), 81.
  14. ^ Borrows, "Wampum," 160.
  15. ^ Borrows, "Wampum," 164.
  16. ^ Borrows, "Wampum," 165.
  17. ^ Woody Holton (August 1994). "The Ohio Indians and the Coming of the American Revolution in Virginia". The Journal of Southern History 60 (3): 453–78. doi:10.2307/2210989. 
  18. ^ "Letter from George Washington to George Mercer dated November 7, 1771, at Williamsburg". The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources 3. p. 68. 
  19. ^ 21 U.S. (8 Wheat.) 543 (1823)
  20. ^ CBC.ca: "Royal Proclamation of 1763, Canada's 'Indian Magna Carta,' turns 250" 6 Oct 2013
  21. ^ G+M "Royal Proclamation’s 250th anniversary has First Nations reflecting on their rights" 7 October 2013

Sources[edit]

  • Abernethy, Thomas Perkins. Western Lands and the American Revolution. Originally published 1937. New York: Russell & Russell, 1959.
  • Borrows, John. "Wampum at Niagara: The Royal Proclamation, Canadian Legal History, and Self-Government,” in Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in Canada, ed. Michael Asch. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1997.
  • Calloway, Colin. The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America. Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-19-530071-8.

Further reading[edit]

  • Marshall, Peter. "Sir William Johnson and the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, 1768." Journal of American Studies' (1967) 1#2 pp 149–179.
  • Sosin, Jack. Whitehall and the wilderness: The Middle West in British colonial policy, 1760-1775 (1961), the standard scholarly history of the proclamation and its effects
  • Stuart, Paul. The Indian Office: Growth and Development of an American Institution, 1865-1900 (UMI Research Press, 1979)

Canada[edit]

  • Cashin, Edward J. "Governor Henry Ellis and the Transformation of British North America." Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994.
  • Lawson, Philip. The Imperial Challenge: Quebec and Britain in the Age of the American Revolution. Montreal/Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1989.
  • Roth, Christopher F. (2002) "Without Treaty, without Conquest: Indigenous Sovereignty in Post-Delgamuukw British Columbia." Wicazo Sa Review, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 143–165.
  • Stonechild, Blair A. "Indian-White Relations in Canada, 1763 to the Present." In Encyclopedia of North American Indians, ed. Frederick E. Hoxie, 277–81. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996.
  • Tousignant, Pierre. "The Integration of the Province of Quebec into the British Empire, 1763–91. Part 1: From the Royal Proclamation to the Quebec Act." In Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1980.

External links[edit]