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What is the Royal Proclamation of 1763?

By Jason C. Chavis
Updated Feb 15, 2024
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Following the successful victory of Great Britain in the French and Indian Wars, King George III issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763. Having obtained the lands belonging to France in North America, the British needed to organize its territory and stabilize relations with the Native American populations. Great Britain established trade relations between the European and Native cultures, regulated settlement and created a procedure for land purchases along the western frontier. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was officially enacted as of 7 October of that year. Much of the legal rights of the First Nations people of Canada have their origins in this mandate.

The French and Indian Wars were a protracted conflict taking place in North America between the empires of Great Britain and France. British military and militias joined with the Iroquois Confederacy to battle French forces allied with various Native nations such as the Ojibwe and Algonquin. Battle raged from the colony of Virginia in the south to Nova Scotia in the north. As part of the Seven Years' War, it lasted from 1754 until 1763, laying the foundations for much of the military organization in the colonies that would eventually be used by the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War.

Eventually, the conflict resulted in the loss of all French territory in Canada to the British. Spain entered the war near the end, prompting the British to seize Florida and take up arms in the West Indies. One of the final actions in the conflict was known as Pontiac's Rebellion, an insurgency against the British by the Ottawa in the Great Lakes region. The British Crown understood that attacks like this would continue if certain measures were not taken.

The outcome of the war was resolved by the Treaty of Paris, an agreement signed on 10 February 1763. France ceded Quebec to the British and the Louisiana Territory to Spain. With the issuance of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, the British established a border between British territory and lands it referred to as an “Indian Reserve” west of the Appalachian Mountains. The proclamation also directed colonists on their rights and limitations when dealing with Native Americans. This became a major source of tension between American colonists and the British, helping to drive the 13 colonies to war.

The legacy of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 is its influence over legal rights of First Nations people of Canada. Despite the temporary nature of the proclamation, its authority is still recognized today. According to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it gives certain land rights to aboriginal people.

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Discussion Comments
By TrogJoe19 — On Jan 28, 2011

The English saw the alliance with the natives in America as a necessity, but resented the French for employing the natives to kidnap white slaves. Stories such as that of Hannah Duston in Haverhill, MA, show how far the two sides were willing to go to weaken each other. We carried our European religious wars to every corner of the earth. Our belief system was like a double-edged sword.

By Proxy414 — On Jan 25, 2011

The French of Quebec have resented this loss to this day. They encounter a lot of prejudice among English Canadians. Many French Canadians have moved south to New England, especially northern New England. The French diaspora in North America has left less of a cultural mark than the English, since the English seemed to grab all the land for themselves. Today, America has become a melting pot, and is a safe haven for many French. They retain their mother tongue and speak it freely here.

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