On this day September 3, 1783
Great Britain and the United States signed the Treaty of Paris, formally ending the American Revolutionary War.
The Treaty was ratified by the Congress of the Confederation on January 14, 1784 and by the King of Great Britain on April 9, 1784 (the ratification documents were exchanged in Paris on May 12, 1784), formally ended the American Revolutionary War between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the United States of America, which had rebelled against British rule.
The other combatant nations, France, Spain and the Dutch Republic had separate agreements; for details of these, and the negotiations which produced all four treaties, see Peace of Paris (1783).
The treaty document was signed at the Hôtel d’York – which is now 56 Rue Jacob – by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay (representing the United States) and David Hartley (a member of British Parliament representing the British Monarch, King George III). Hartley was lodging at the hotel, which was therefore chosen in preference to the nearby British Embassy – 44 Rue Jacob – as “neutral” ground for the signing.
On September 3, Britain also signed separate agreements with France and Spain, and (provisionally) with the Netherlands. In the treaty with Spain, the colonies of East and West Florida were ceded to Spain (without any clearly defined northern boundary, resulting in disputed territory resolved with the Treaty of Madrid), as was the island of Minorca, while the Bahama Islands, Grenada and Montserrat, captured by the French and Spanish, were returned to Britain.
The treaty with France was mostly about exchanges of captured territory (France’s only net gains were the island of Tobago, and Senegal in Africa), but also reinforced earlier treaties, guaranteeing fishing rights off Newfoundland. Dutch possessions in the East Indies, captured in 1781, were returned by Britain to the Netherlands in exchange for trading privileges in the Dutch East Indies.
The American Congress of the Confederation meeting temporarily in Annapolis, Maryland ratified the treaty of Paris on January 14, 1784 (Ratification Day). Copies were sent back to Europe for ratification by the other parties involved, the first reaching France in March. British ratification occurred on April 9, 1784, and the ratified versions were exchanged in Paris on May 12, 1784. It was not for some time, though, that the Americans in the countryside received the news due to the lack of communication.
Preface. Declares the treaty to be “in the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity,” states the bona fides of the signatories, and declares the intention of both parties to “forget all past misunderstandings and differences” and “secure to both perpetual peace and harmony.”
- Acknowledging the 13 colonies to be free, sovereign and independent States, and that the British Crown and all heirs and successors relinquish claims to the Government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same, and every part thereof;
- Establishing the boundaries between the United States and British North America (for an account of two strange anomalies resulting from this part of the Treaty, based on inaccuracies in the Mitchell Map, see Northwest Angle and the Republic of Indian Stream);
- Granting fishing rights to United States fishermen in the Grand Banks, off the coast of Newfoundland and in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence;
- Recognizing the lawful contracted debts to be paid to creditors on either side;
- The Congress of the Confederation will “earnestly recommend” to state legislatures to recognize the rightful owners of all confiscated lands “provide for the restitution of all estates, rights, and properties, which have been confiscated belonging to real British subjects [Loyalists]”;
- United States will prevent future confiscations of the property of Loyalists;
- Prisoners of war on both sides are to be released and all property left by the British army in the United States unmolested (including slaves);
- Great Britain and the United States were each to be given perpetual access to the Mississippi River;
- Territories captured by Americans subsequent to treaty will be returned without compensation;
- Ratification of the treaty was to occur within six months from the signing by the contracting parties.
Spain received East and West Florida under the separate Anglo-Spanish peace agreement