On this day, in 1783, the American Revolution officially came to an end. There was no “ceasefire”, or UN resolution; instead representatives from the United States, Great Britain, Spain and France signed the Treaty of Paris, bringing the war to an official close. America was a free nation, and the British Parliament was a few unimportant members lighter than before.
You might remember that in 1775, colonists in the Americas got a little fed up with King George III’s style of executive action, and decided to start shooting Red Coats. Seriously… Leave our tea alone. (It was roughly a year later when our founding fathers decided to craft a nasty letter to the King, explaining that he was no longer the boss of us.) And as such, the American Revolution began it’s bitter, and often uncertain, volley into the history books.
After five grueling years, it became apparent that these gun-loving farmers in the “New World” were a worthy adversary. Deciding there was no alternative, British General Charles Lord Cornwallis surrendered to American and French (it’s nice to see the French get a notch on their belt) at Yorktown, Virginia. But, it wasn’t until a year later, in 1782, that official negotiations, to determine the new nation’s geographical boundaries and codify independence, were held in Paris.
Originally, the Continental Congress (that’s like the Congress we have now, except there was no Nancy Pelosi) named a five-person committee to engage in negotiations with the British and the French. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, John Jay, Henry Laurens, and Thomas Jefferson were designated as the legal representatives of these newly-formed United States. Unfortunately, only three of the five representatives actually made it to the negotiations. Henry Laurens was captured by the British, and given an all-expense-paid trip to the London Tower. Thomas Jefferson ran into travel delays (presumably after being randomly selected for “additional screening” at the port of entry).
Despite France’s show of support throughout our fight for independence, Franklin, Jay and Adams seemed to be rather distrustful of French authorities. Perhaps it was the crafty sounding accents of the French, or perhaps it was just their love of the guillotine as a political reformation tool, but America opted to negotiate directly with the English instead of depending entirely on Frenchmen. (Good choice.)
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