The Treaty of Paris of 1783 ended the American Revolutionary War, granting additional territory to the U.S. and its allies, France and Spain.
Examine how the Treaty of Paris reshaped the United States and redefined boundaries in North America
The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ended the American Revolutionary War and greatly increased the United States's territory, enabling the nation to rapidly become a major international trading partner.
The territories of East and West Florida were ceded to Spain, as was the Mediterranean island of Minorca, while the Bahama Islands, Grenada, and Montserrat, captured by the French and Spanish, were returned to Britain.
The treaty with France primarily focused on exchanges of captured territory, but also reinforced earlier treaties guaranteeing fishing rights off the coast of Newfoundland.
Dutch possessions in the East Indies, captured by the British in 1781, were returned by Britain in exchange for trading privileges in that region.
In the Great Lakes region, the British adopted a very generous interpretation of the stipulation that they should relinquish control "with all convenient speed," claiming they needed time to negotiate with the American Indians. The matter was settled by the Jay Treaty in 1794.
Several of the articles of the Treaty of Paris were violated by all sides in the chaotic aftermath of the war.
Signed in 1794, this treaty guaranteed the removal of British forces from forts in the Northwest Territories, committed disputes over wartime debts to arbitration, gave the U.S. limited trading rights with British colonies, and restricted U.S. cotton exports. The treaty settled issues left unresolved by the Treaty of Paris.
The Treaty of Paris
The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ended the American Revolutionary War between Great Britain and the United States and its allies. The terms of the Treaty of Paris greatly enlarged the boundaries of the United States, enabling the young nation to rapidly become a major international trading partner.
The treaty was signed at the Hotel d’York by U.S.
representatives John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay, as well as David
Hartley, a member of the British Parliament who represented King George III in
negotiations. The treaty was made up of 10 articles that addressed territorial
rights, treatment of Loyalists, and rights to bodies of water, property, and
debt. The American Congress of the Confederation ratified the Treaty of Paris
on January 14, 1784, and copies were sent back to Europe for ratification by all
other parties, reaching the French first in March. The British ratified the
treaty on April 9, 1784.
10 articles of the Treaty of Paris are as follows. Of these articles, only the
first remains in effect to the present day.
the United States is free, sovereign, and independent, and that the British
Crown, including all heirs and successors, relinquish claims to the government
as well as proprietary and territorial rights of the same and every part
Establishment of the
boundaries between the U.S. and British North America.
Granting of fishing
rights to U.S. fishermen in the Grand Banks, off the coast of Newfoundland, and
in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.
Recognition of lawful
contracted debts to be paid to creditors on either side.
Duty of the Congress
of the Confederation to “earnestly recommend” to state legislatures recognition
of the rightful owners of all confiscated lands and provisions for “restitution
of all estates, rights, and properties which have been confiscated belonging
to real British subjects” (i.e., Loyalists).
Prevention of future
confiscations of Loyalist property by the U.S.
Release of prisoners
of war on either side, and for all property left in the U.S. by the British
government to be left unmolested, including slaves.
rights to the Mississippi River by both Great Britain and the U.S.
of territories captured by the U.S. during the war without compensation.
Ratification of the treaty within six months of signing
by contracting parties.
Other Territorial Cessions and Gains
On September 3, Britain signed separate agreements with France and Spain and, provisionally, with the Netherlands. The territories of East and West Florida were ceded to Spain, as was the Mediterranean island of Minorca. Meanwhile, the Bahama Islands, Grenada, and Montserrat, captured by the French and Spanish, were returned to Britain.
The treaty with France primarily focused on exchanges of captured territory, but also reinforced earlier treaties guaranteeing French fishing rights off the coast of Newfoundland. France's only territorial gains were the island of Tobago and Senegal in West Africa. Dutch possessions in the East Indies, captured by the British in 1781, were returned by Britain in exchange for trading privileges in that region.
In the Great Lakes region, the British adopted a very generous interpretation of the stipulation that they should relinquish control "with all convenient speed." The British argued that they needed time to negotiate with the American Indians, who had defended the region from the United States but had been utterly ignored in the treaty. Even after these negotiations were concluded, Britain retained control of the region as leverage in order to gain recompense for confiscated Loyalist property. This matter was finally settled by the Jay Treaty in 1794, and America's ability to bargain on all these points was greatly strengthened by the creation of a new constitution in 1787.
Several of the articles of the Treaty of Paris were violated by all sides in the chaotic aftermath of the war. Individual states ignored federal recommendations to restore confiscated Loyalist property, as required by Article 5 of the Treaty, and also continued the practice of confiscating Loyalist property for "unpaid debts," in violation of Article 6. Some, notably the state of Virginia, also maintained laws against payment of debts to British creditors, defying Article 4. Individual British soldiers ignored the provision of Article 7, which required them to abandon their property in the United States, particularly in respect to their relinquishment of slaves.
The treaty between Spain and Great Britain did not establish any clearly defined northern boundary to Spanish-controlled Florida. Spain used its control of Florida to block American access to the Mississippi in defiance of Article 8 of the Treaty of Paris. The resulting territory dispute between Spain and the United States was resolved with the Treaty of Madrid, or Pinckney's Treaty, in 1795.