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The American Revolution
British Reforms and Colonial Resistance
George Washington to William Crawford

Relations between Great Britain, its North American colonies, and the Indians were often difficult, to say the least. The British wanted to solve these problems so they could reduce the number of British troops needed and thereby reduce expenses. One attempt to bring peace was the Proclamation of 1763. This edict created a line of settlement beyond which colonists were forbidden to settle. In the following letter from George Washington to William Crawford, what views of the Proclamation did Washington express? In what ways might the Proclamation have affected Washington's personal interests? How did Washington distinguish "valuable" from "ordinary" or "middling" land?

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I then desird the favour of you (as I understood Rights might now be had for the Lands, which have fallen within the Pensylvania Line) to look me out a Tract of about 1500, 2000, or more Acres somewhere in your Neighbourhood meaning only by this that it may be as contiguous to your own Settlemt. as such a body of good Land coud be found and about Jacobs Cabbins or somewhere on those Waters I am told this might be done. It will be easy for you to conceive that Ordinary, or even middling Land woud never answer my purpose or expectation so far from Navigation and under such a load of Expence as those Lands are incumbred with; No: A Tract to please me must be rich (of which no Person can be a better judge than yourself) and if possible to be good and level; Coud such a piece of Land as this be found you woud do me a singular favour in falling upon some method to secure it immediately from the attempts of any other as nothing is more certain than that the Lands cannot remain long ungranted when once it is known that Rights are to be had for them. What mode of proceeding is necessary in order to accomplish this design I am utterly at a loss to point out to you but as as your own Lands are under the same Circumstances self Interest will naturally lead you to an enquiry. . . .

The other matter, just now hinted at and which I proposed in my last to join you in attempting to secure some of the most valuable Lands in the King's part which I think may be accomplished after a while notwithstanding the Proclamation that restrains it at present and prohibits the Settling of them at all for I can never look upon that Proclamation in any other light (but this I say between ourselves) than as a temporary expedient to quiet the Minds of the Indians and must fall of course in a few years especially when those Indians are consenting to our Occupying the Lands. Any person therefore who neglects the present oppertunity of hunting out good Lands and in some measure marking and distinguishing them for their own (in order to keep others from settling them) will never regain it, if therefore you will be at the trouble of seeking out the Lands I will take upon me the part of securing them so soon as there is a possibility of doing it and will moreover be at all the Cost and charges of Surveying and Patenting &c. after which you shall have such a reasonable proportion of the whole as we may fix upon at our first meeting as I shall find it absolutely necessary and convenient for the better furthering of the design to let some few of my friends be concernd in the Scheme and who must also partake of the advantages.
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View the original document from George Washington Papers. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.