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Proclamation of Indulgence

Royal Proclamation of 1763

The 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. The purpose of the proclamation was to establish Britain's vast new North American empire, and to stabilize relations with Native Americans through regulation of trade, settlement, and land purchases on the western frontier. The Proclamation in essence forbade colonists of the thirteen colonies from settling or buying land west of the Appalachian Mountains. This led to considerable outrage in the colonies, as many colonists had already acquired land in that region. Additionally, the Proclamation gave the Crown a monopoly in land bought from Native Americans.

Organization of new colonies

Besides regulating colonial expansion, the proclamation dealt with the management of newly ceded French colonies. It established government for four areas: Province of Quebec, West Florida, East Florida, and Grenada. All of these were granted the ability to elect general assemblies under a royally appointed governor or a 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--but those charged with violating the Stamp or Sugar Act were to be tried in admiralty court, where the defendant was considered guilty until he or she could prove his or her innocence.

Legacy

The influence of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 on the coming of the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) 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.

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). Afterwards, 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. Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court case Johnson v. M'Intosh (1823) established that only the U.S. government, and not private individuals, could purchase land from Native Americans.

The Royal Proclamation 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 thus mentioned in section 25 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The High Court of Australia, in the 1992 decision of Mabo v Queensland (No 2), determined that under the Proclamation of 1763, "all the Lands and Territories lying to the Westward of the Sources of the Rivers which fall into the Sea from the West and North West as aforesaid," included the whole of Australia. This decision stems from the fact that Australia was not settled by the English until 1770. Terms of settlement are still outstanding in this case.

See also

References

  • Abernethy, Thomas Perkins. Western Lands and the American Revolution. Originally published 1937. New York: Russell & Russell, 1959.
  • 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

  • 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.

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