Today in History: Treaty of Paris signed, ending the Revolutionary War

September 3rd, 2013

On September 3, 1783, representatives from the United States and Great Britain signed the Treaty of Paris, bringing an end to the eight-year Revolutionary War upon ratification. The treaty officially recognized the 13 colonies as free, sovereign, and independent states, with the British Crown relinquishing all claims to the territory.

Negotiations began in April of 1782, with Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Henry Laurens, and John Adams serving as the American representatives, and David Hartley and Richard Oswald serving as Great Britain’s representatives. Early negotiations stalled over Benjamin Franklin’s insistence that Great Britain cede the Providence of Quebec to the United States, which Great Britain refused. In September 1783, after more than a year of negotiations, the two nations agreed:

To forget all past Misunderstandings and Differences that have unhappily interrupted the good Correspondence and Friendship which they mutually wish to restore; and to establish such a beneficial and satisfactory Intercourse between the two countries upon the ground of reciprocal Advantages and mutual Convenience as may promote and secure to both perpetual Peace and Harmony…

In addition to acknowledging the sovereignty of the colonies (the only article in the treaty still in effect today), the agreement defined the boundaries between the United States and Canada, and called for the release of prisoners of war. Despite calls for friendship between the two nations, the British treaty representatives refused to sit for Benjamin West’s famous Treaty of Paris painting, leaving the artwork depicting the momentous agreement decidedly one-sided.

For more on the end of the Revolutionary War, read “A Brief History of Independence,” compiled by Amy and Leon Kass, and EDSITEment’s lesson plan on the Treaty of Paris.

Click here to sign up for our newsletter.

Tags: ,