Today, April 15, 1783: Congress Ratifies Peace Accord

In the 1760s and early 1770s, the British government forced one tax act after another on the American colonists. Although they were considered to be part of Great Britain, they had no representation or say in Parliament. The colonies were nothing more than helpless cash cows that the British were determined to milk dry, but a growing number of colonists were determined to end the unfair British rule.

Although there had been a number of violent confrontations between American patriots and the British, everything finally erupted into all-out war on April 19, 1775 when British troops and American militia faced each other in Lexington and Concord. Shots were fired, soldiers and militiamen were killed and the American Revolutionary War began.

By 1782, General George Washington’s troops were making ground in driving the British back, leading to Great Britain to start talking peace. One of the first offers of peace from the British would allow the American colonies to become states with a measure of self-government, but they would remain as part of Great Britain. Benjamin Franklin, the lead US diplomat, rejected the proposal. Franklin insisted that that Great Britain formally recognize America as being a free and independent nation. Franklin countered the British offer by not only demanding American independence but he also wanted the British to cede Canada to America.

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On September 27, 1782, Franklin was joined by John Adams and John Jay for the start of formal negotiations with the British and the French, since France had been an ally of the colonies during the war and engaged in their own war with Great Britain.

Over the next couple of months, negotiations were eventually hammered out. The American delegates would not budge on the issue of complete independence so the British finally agreed to recognize America as an independent nation. Additional terms worked out included defining America’s boundaries, settlement of prewar debts owed to British creditors, fishing rights on the Newfoundland banks, restitution of property to British Loyalists that was lost during the war and the removal of all British troops from American soil.

On November 30, 1782, the preliminary treaty was signed by American and British diplomats. However, the treaty required that the French and British sign a comparable treaty.

On January 20, 1783, French diplomats signed the Declarations for Suspension of Arms and Cessation of Hostilities with Great Britain. Now the treaty needed to be taken back to America’s Congress of the Confederation for ratification.

On this date, April 15, 1783, Congress voted to ratify the Treaty of Paris. However, it wasn’t until September 30, 1783 that the Treaty of Paris was signed by America, Great Britain, Spain and France, officially ending the Revolutionary War with the British.


Sources for the above includes: The Paris Peace Treaty of September 30, 1783; Declarations for Suspension of Arms and Cessation of Hostilities, signed at Versailles January 20, 1783; Contract between the King and the Thirteen United States of North America February 25, 1783; Congress ratifies peace with Great Britain; Treaty of Paris (1783); Treaty of Paris, 1783; Peace Treaty of Paris 1783.

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