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The Proclamation of 1763

The Proclamation of 1763 was a declaration issued by Britain which formally ended the ‘Seven Years War’. It transferred the French territory in North America to Britain. This proclamation introduced a boundary that drew a line along the Appalachian Mountains.  

What was the Proclamation of 1763?

The Proclamation of 1763 was a royal statement issued by King George III of Britain on 7th October 1763. The ‘Seven Years War’ between the French and the British formally reached its conclusion through this proclamation. This war was a global conflict for ‘global supremacy’ between Great Britain and France.

The first year of fighting the ‘Seven Year War’ against France was 1756. In this year, Britain suffered great losses. However, in the year 1757, the Prime Minister of Britain William Pitt realized the importance of colonial expansion. To do so, they had to defeat the French armies. Thus, Britain heavily borrowed funds to support and provide for the war.

Britain funded Prussia in its struggle against France. Britain also financed its colonies to raise armies in North America. This effort aided Britain in defeating France. 

France soon suffered defeats against Prussia. It lost many of its colonies in North America. By 1760, the French forces were driven out of Canada. Moreover, Spanish forces failed to support France in America. By 1763, all of France’s allies in Europe were either under a peace treaty or were defeated.

This led to the ‘Proclamation of 1763’ issued by Britain which formally ended the ‘Seven Year War’. The French had to sign the treaties of Hubertusburg and Paris. Through this treaty, Britain gained control over 13 American colonies and many worldwide.


What did the Proclamation of 1763 do?

The Proclamation of 1763 established Britain as a superior power in America. It was used to appease the native American settlers. It was done by checking the movement of European settlers on their lands. The proclamation led to the creation of a boundary known as the ‘proclamation line’. This boundary extended from the eastern coast of America. It covered all 13 colonies till the Appalachian Mountains in the west.

The proclamation line divided the settlements of Europe from the lands of natives. This was done in response to a revolt done by the natives known as the ‘Pontiac Rebellion’. Thus, all lands west of the Appalachian Mountains were established as off-limits.

Till 1763, Europeans expanded westward to introduce newer settlements. This expansion was shut down after the introduction of the proclamation. This was the first initiative introduced when the 13 colonies were introduced. This measure prohibited citizens and governments from having any contact with the natives. Companies were not allowed to buy land. They were not allowed to finalize deals or conduct any sort of transactions with them. Trading was prohibited. Only licensed persons were allowed to trade and receive merchandise.

This type of system was introduced with another purpose in mind as well. By trying to gain the trust of the Indians, this system was also aimed at protecting the colonizers. It was also aimed at safeguarding the natives from the attacks by European settlers.   

The colonial area was divided into three major territories:

  • Quebec
  • West Florida
  • East Florida

Why was the Proclamation 1763 issued / Historical Background?

The European countries started looking overseas for new lands to settle in. They were able to rediscover a new land in the form of America. These European settlers quickly claimed vast areas of land as their own. Large areas of land were claimed by the French and the British as well. Overtime disputes arose. They were over the authority to certain regions. This soon materialized in the form of a war known as the ‘French and Indian war’.

The ‘French and Indian War’ was the American counterpart of the ‘Seven Year War’. Two years into the ‘French and Indian War’, Britain officially declared war on France. This started the ‘Seven Year War’ in 1756.

Both countries used their colonial might. They gathered forces from their colonies and allies to claim land in America. Until 1757, France had the upper hand and defeated many forces sent by the British and their allies. However, after William Pitt came to power, things turned bad for France. They incurred heavy losses and ultimately lost the war. France’s allies were also unable to provide adequate support and suffered as well.

This ultimately led to the ‘Proclamation of 1763’. It ended the ‘Seven Year War’ and the ‘Treaty of Paris’ ended the ‘French and Indian War’.The ‘Treaty of Paris’ was signed on the 10th of February, 1763. It made France surrender its territories in America to Britain. 

The treaties of Hubertusburg and Paris were signed by France. They gave the full authority to Canada to the British. Britain also received Spanish Florida and many overseas colonies of France. These treaties ensured both colonial and maritime supremacy of Britain. In all, Britain gained 13 colonies on the eastern coast of America.

How did the Proclamation of 1763 affect the colonists?

The Proclamation of 1763 was a matter that was very unfavorable to the colonizers. It affected and restricted their rights as colonizers. As a result, the proclamation was very unpopular among the colonists. They believed that building a boundary and restricting their movements was not helpful. Fighting in the war and shedding blood signified their right to explore unseen lands and claim them as their own. Moreover, it would hinder the development of their settlements. They felt that the proclamation was a plot to keep colonies under surveillance at all times. Thus, they didn’t allow them to expand westward. The proclamation also hindered their plans of moving westward and capitalizing. They were not allowed to express their desire to expand and explore. This angered the colonists. They felt as though the proclamation gave an unfair advantage to the British.

 This later became a big political issue. As a result, colonists kept moving westward towards the Ohio valley. They believed that if they acted together, the British would not be able to implement their new laws.

On the other hand the British thought of these laws as plain and simple. Nonetheless, the proclamation was still offensive to the colonies. It was excessively interfering in their affairs. The treaties signed after the ‘Pontiac’s War’ ensured regions were more acceptable to colonists. This however did not stop the westward expansion of many pioneers. Many settlers also disregarded the proclamation. It led to frequent clashes between the settlers and natives. This tension continued for many decades.

Interesting Facts:

  • One of the main reasons for issuing the proclamation was the ‘Pontiac’s War’. It was a rebellion by the native Americans. This rebellion was named after Ottawa Indian chief ‘Pontiac’. This rebellion urged the British government to sign a peace treaty and stop their westward expansion.
  • The proclamation was not favorable to the various colonies in America. Implementation of the proclamation ignited a spark against the British government. This led to a big revolution known as ‘The Revolutionary War’ or ‘The American War of Independence. This resulted in the 13 colonies gaining their independence on the 4th of July, 1776.
  • The Proclamation remains a very important document for the first nations in Canada. The Appalachian Divide in Canada still has the same boundary as the proclamation line.

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