On September 3, 1783, the American Revolutionary War (April 19, 1775 – September 3, 1783) officially ended when the peace treaty with Great Britain was signed in Paris, France. Several very important concessions were agreed to in the treaty, including the establishment of the boundaries of the United States as well as British North America, and Great Britain acknowledging the United States as a sovereign nation independent from Great Britain.
Great Britain had to sign additional peace treaties with France, Spain, and the Netherlands, since these countries had joined the war on the American side. When these other countries joined the war, the American Revolutionary War became a world war.
The beginning of the end of the American Revolutionary War began on October 19, 1781, with the battle of Yorktown (Virginia). Troops of the American Continental Army under the command of General George Washington together with troops of the French Army under the command of Comte de Rochambeau achieved a significant victory over British troops under the command of General Charles Cornwallis, a British lord. Cornwallis’ surrender and capture, as well as that of his army, caused the British government to work on a plan to resolve the war. The victory also revived American and French interest in the war, but reduced British support for the war.
Negotiations for peace began in April 1782. The American negotiators selected by Congress were John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, and Henry Laurens. As it turned out, Jefferson left America too late to reach France in time for the talks, and Laurens had been captured by the British and was held until the end of the war. Preliminary peace articles were signed on November 30, 1782.
The negotiations quickly became complicated because of existing treaties and alliances. France could not make a peace agreement unless Spain agreed, and America could not make a peace agreement unless France agreed. France had taken an active role in trying to negotiate a settlement to the war, but the Americans quickly realized the settlement was beneficial to everyone except them. Dealing with the British directly gave the Americans a much better accord.
The British Prime Minister thought the United States and Britain could develop a very profitable trading partnership by cutting France off, which is exactly what happened. Britain negotiated a treaty quite favorable to the United States that would be conducive to the rapid expansion of the United States creating new trade opportunities, and trade resumed between the two countries in a matter of months. The French foreign minister later commented, “The English buy peace rather than make it.”
The United States Congress ratified the treaty on January 14, 1784, and Britain ratified it on April 9, 1784. After the ratification of the treaty between Great Britain and the United States, both sides frequently ignored certain provisions of the treaty. Numerous geographical mistakes had been made in the treaty, necessitating the signing of another treaty in 1784, the Jay Treaty, to resolve the mess.