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Archive for September 3rd, 2008

Without a doubt, the most important treaty in the history of America was the treaty that finally established the existence of a free and independent America.  The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, officially ended the American Revolution and recognized the Thirteen Colonies as autonomous states.

“Revolutionary” fighting had ended on colonial soil in 1781 with the Battle of Yorktown.  But it’s important to note that, in 1781, the British didn’t consider the war lost…or even over.  They had plans to continue the conflict, but they were fighting the French elsewhere, and things were going badly enough that the British felt that peace with America would actually weaken the Franco-American alliance.  So the British presented a treaty proposal to Benjamin Franklin recognizing the colonies as independent, which somewhat upset our ally.

But then successes by the British Navy in the Mediterranean weakened the French position to the point that the French fell into agreement with the treaty as well.  It’s somewhat ironic that the French and British signed the treaty due to their weakened positions relative to each other as much as they did because of American strength.  But sign they did, as did our representatives in Paris: John Jay (who co-authored The Federalist Papers), John Adams (who became our 1st VP and 2nd President), and Benjamin Franklin (who spent the war in France as our Ambassador).

The birth of America, first begun more than seven years prior, was now complete.

Recommended Reading: Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

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