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The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ended the American Revolutionary War between Great Britain on one side and the United States of America and its allies on the other. 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). It is most famous for being "exceedingly generous" to the United States in terms of enlarged boundaries.
The treaty document was signed at the Hotel 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 the British Parliament representing the British Monarch, King George III).
On September 3, Britain also signed separate agreements with France and Spain, and (provisionally) with the Netherlands. In the treaty with Spain, the territories 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, by a treaty which was not finalised until 1794.
The American Congress of the Confederation 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 because of the lack of speedy 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."
Historians have often commented that the treaty was very generous to the United States in terms of greatly enlarged boundaries, which came at the expense of the Indian allies of the British. The point was America would be a major trading partner. As the French minister Vergennes later put it, "The English buy peace rather than they make it."
Privileges which the Americans had received from Britain automatically when they had colonial status (including protection from pirates in the Mediterranean Sea in respect of which see: Barbary Wars) were withdrawn. Individual States ignored Federal recommendations, under Article 5, to restore confiscated Loyalist property, and also evaded Article 6 (e.g. by confiscating Loyalist property for "unpaid debts"). Some, notably Virginia, also defied Article 4 and maintained laws against payment of debts to British creditors. Individual British soldiers ignored the provision of Article 7 about removal of slaves. The real geography of North America turned out not to match the details given in the Canadian boundary descriptions. The Treaty specified a southern boundary for the United States, but the separate Anglo-Spanish agreement did not specify a northern boundary for Florida, and the Spanish government assumed that the boundary was the same as in the 1763 agreement by which they had first given their territory in Florida to Britain. While that dispute continued, Spain used its new control of Florida to block American access to the Mississippi, in defiance of Article 8. In the Great Lakes area, the British adopted a very generous interpretation of the stipulation that they should relinquish control "with all convenient speed", because they needed time to negotiate with the Native Americans, who had kept the area out of United States control, but had been completely ignored in the Treaty. Even after that was accomplished, Britain retained control as a bargaining counter in hopes of obtaining some recompense for the 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 the new constitution in 1787.
Only Article 1 remains in force as of 2012.
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