Proclamation Line of 1763 | Summary, Effects, Facts


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    Edward St. Germain.
    Edward St. Germain

    Edward A. St. Germain created in 1996. He was an avid historian with a keen interest in the Revolutionary War and American culture and society in the 18th century. On this website, he created and collated a huge collection of articles, images, and other media pertaining to the American Revolution. Edward was also a Vietnam veteran, and his investigative skills led to a career as a private detective in later life.


      The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was a decree issued by King George III of Great Britain, defining new restrictions on colonial settlement in America.

      In this article, we’ve explained the effects of the Proclamation of 1763. We’ve also provided a summary of what the decree did, and some interesting facts about the Royal Proclamation.


      Historical context

      From 1754 to 1763, the British fought in the Seven Years’ War.

      The Seven Years’ War was a global conflict fought between the major European powers of the time, with Britain and Prussia on one side, and France, Austria, and Spain (among others) on the other.

      Apart from Europe, the war was also fought in India, South America, and North America.

      The conflict in North America was known as the French and Indian War, and was fought between the British and the French, with various Native American tribes on either side of the conflict.

      The war was fought for control of the Thirteen Colonies, as well as French territories on the continent, and as a result, the colonists worked with the British to protect their land.

      End of the war

      In 1763, the Seven Years’ War ended in British victory.

      This was good news for the colonists. Their territory remained under control of the British, who they were mostly happy with at the time. The colonists thought that trade would recommence, revitalizing the economy, after it had taken a significant hit during the war.

      Some war veterans also thought that they would be entitled to receive land grants as a reward for their efforts during the war. They thought that the colonies would expand west into new territories captured from the French, which were handed over officially at the end of the Seven Years’ War.

      Royal Proclamation of 1763

      On October 7 1763, King George III issued a Royal Proclamation, which stated:

      • Colonial settlement west of a line drawn at the Appalachian Mountains was prohibited. This line became known as the Proclamation Line.
      • Only the British Crown could acquire lands from Native Americans through treaties, giving the British control over land negotiations. Colonists were not allowed to trade land with the Native Americans.
      • Trade with Native Americans was restricted to those with a license, and could only be conducted at official trading posts.
      Proclamation Line map.
      The Proclamation Line, shown in yellow.

      Settlements west of the Proclamation Line did not have to be vacated, and colonists were free to travel beyond the line – it was only new settlements that were prohibited.

      The purpose of the Royal Proclamation was to:

      • Reinforce British government control over the colonies, ensuring they had the final say in where settlements were located, and how land was traded.
      • Allow the British to collect revenue by organizing future land sales, rather than allowing land to be claimed by colonists.
      • Prevent the haphazard expansion of the colonies westward, and allow for a more organized, gradual settlement in the future.
      • Improve relations with the Native Americans in the short term, and prevent further violence between American Indians and the colonists.


      Some colonists, especially war veterans, land speculators, and settlers in certain colonies such as Virginia, were upset by the Royal Proclamation of 1763.

      Many in the colonies, especially those who fought in the French and Indian War, were promised land grants when the war was won. Some of these promised land grants were west of the Proclamation Line, so King George’s decree made it impossible for some colonists to access the land they thought they were owed.

      George Washington was one such veteran who was promised land west of the Proclamation Line in return for his efforts during the French and Indian War, along with other soldiers from Virginia.

      The proclamation more strongly affected those in states with land claims in the west, especially Virginia, which had extensive claims in the Ohio Valley region. Settlers in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Connecticut were also strongly affected, in part due to their history of trading with Native American tribes.


      The British found the Royal Proclamation difficult and expensive to enforce. It required having large numbers of British Army troops in America, which the country could not afford after the Seven Years’ War. This was part of the reason why the British decided to impose new taxes in the colonies beginning in 1764, leading to widespread protests, and the first sparks of the American Revolution.

      As a result of difficulties enforcing the decree, the Proclamation Line was sometimes ignored by settlers, leading to tensions with Native American tribes. These tensions escalated to localized conflicts in certain areas, such as Pontiac’s Rebellion (1763 – 1766).

      Colonial reaction

      The Royal Proclamation of 1763 generally led to increased tension between the colonists and the British government. Some in the colonies saw the decree as an act of overreach, in that it was unnecessary, and it violated their right to self-govern.

      Overall though, the Royal Proclamation was not a major contributing factor to the American Revolution, in that it did not cause widespread protests. However, it was the first in a series of British government actions that would anger the colonists after the end of the French and Indian War in 1763.

      Along with other new British government laws such as the Sugar Act, Stamp Act, and increased enforcement of the Navigation Acts, the Royal Proclamation helped to stir tensions between colonial settlers and British authorities in the mid-1760s.


      • The Royal Proclamation of 1763 is still a part of the Constitution of Canada, recognized for its historical significance in establishing the country’s legal treatment of native populations.
      • The rules outlined in the Royal Proclamation effectively ended after the Revolutionary War, when Britain ceded control of the land to the new United States.
      • Several prominent land speculation companies, such as the Ohio Company, had previously lobbied for westward expansion and were adversely affected by the Proclamation, leading to political pushback from influential investors.
      • After the American Revolution, the United States government ended up implementing similar policies to those contained in the Royal Proclamation, to control future westward expansion.
      • The region that the Proclamation attempted to reserve for Native Americans now includes states such as Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio.

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