The 1768 Treaty of Hard Labor secured much of present West Virginia for white settlement. The British had won this territory as a result of the French and Indian War, but prior to the Treaty of Hard Labor the Royal Proclamation of 1763 had officially prohibited settlements west of the eastern continental divide to reduce conflict with the Indians. This divide separates the Potomac watershed, essentially the present Eastern Panhandle, from the rest of West Virginia. Many people ignored the proclamation and crossed the line, settling in territory claimed by the Cherokees. As a result, tensions between British settlers and the Cherokee claimants of the land increased. British colonies, land companies, and individual settlers demanded access to the land west of the proclamation line.
For these reasons, the British government relented and negotiated with the major Native American tribes for Trans-Appalachian land. The British and Cherokees met in Hard Labor, South Carolina, and signed the treaty in October 1768. This established a new western border for British North America, along a line extending in part from present Wytheville, Virginia, to the mouth of the Kanawha River at Point Pleasant. The only part of West Virginia not under British control after this treaty was the area southwest of the Wytheville to Point Pleasant treaty line, which ran somewhat west of and generally parallel to modern Interstate 77.
This Article was written by Robert T. Anderson
Last Revised on November 05, 2010
Sosin, Jack M. The Revolutionary Frontier, 1763-1783. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1967.