Historical Documents

of the United States of America

Definitive Treaty Of Peace Between The United States Of America And His Britannic Majesty ~ 1783

Signed 03 September 1783


     Many history revisionists like to state that the American Revolutionary War ended with British General Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown on 17 October 1781. The siege and ultimate battle at Yorktown was indeed a pivotal event, but it was, by no means, the end of the War. Skirmishing between American colonials and British or British-supported Indians continued on the frontiers, and British troops continued to occupy New York City. The history revisionists would have one believe that on the day after Cornwallis surrendered, all of the British ran to their ships and sailed back to England.
     A look at the actual history reveals that, while many Americans were wondering if the British would launch another major campaign in 1782, the delegates meeting in the Second Continental Congress continued to deal with matters at hand. One of those 'matters at hand' was peace talks between the various nations involved in the War.
     On 06 June 1781, the delegates meeting in the Second Continental Congress resolved: "That the minister plenipotentiary, &c. be authorised and instructed to concur, in behalf of these United States, with his Most Christian Majesty in accepting the mediation proposed by the Empress of Russia and the Emperor of Germany but to accede to [no treaty of peace which shall not be such as may effectually secure the independence and sovereignty of the thirteen states] according to the form and effect of the treaties subsisting between the said states and his most Christian Majesty, and in which the said treaties shall not be left in their full force and validity." Catharine, Empress of Russia, despite her connections with the monarchy of Great Britain, refused to support the British in this conflict. But neither did she support the Americans. Despite maintaining trade with the American colonies, even during the period of the British forbiddance of the colonies to trade with anyone not part of the British empire (i.e. Navigation Acts), until Great Britain acknowledged the independence of the colonies, Russia did not recognize the United States as a sovereign entity.
      In March 1780, the Declaration of Armed Neutrality was issued by the Russian ministry. By maintaining a neutral position, Russia, unlike most of the other European powers involved in the conflict, would actually gain from the War in terms of territory and naval power.
     Catherine, Empress of Russia, sent proposals to the various European nations involved in the War during October 1780. Representatives duly met in Vienna, Austria with the Austrian ministry assisting Catherine's minister, Prince Dimitri Galitzin, with the mediation. In order to avoid having the meetings fall apart before they'd even begun, Catherine made no suggestion of recognizing the independence of the American colonies. The powers met, they discussed, but ultimately, nothing came of the talks.
     Serious talks between American and British commissioners began in April 1782. The Americans included Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and John Jay. Great Britain was represented by Richard Oswald. (Two days prior to the Treaty being signed, Henry Laurens, who had been imprisoned by the British on 03 September 1780, arrived to participate with the Americans.) Richard Oswald met with Benjamin Franklin on 12 April 1782. At the time, John Adams was still at the Hague, negotiating the Treaty between the United States and the United Netherlands. Adams arrived at Paris on 26 October. On 23 June, John Jay had arrived from Madrid, where he was negotiating a Treaty between the United States and Spain. Thomas Jefferson had been named as a commissioner also, but he declined to participate.
     Preliminary articles, titled: Provisional Articles, Between The United States Of America, And His Britannic Majesty, were agreed upon during a session held on 30 November. The Provisional Articles would, without many appreciable changes, become the Definitive Treaty.
     The Provisional Articles can be accessed by clicking on this icon:
     On 20 January 1783, Articles of Peace were signed between France and Great Britain, and between Spain and Great Britain. The American/British Provisional Articles were not to go into effect until after Great Britain and France would achieve a peace accord. A copy of the Definitive Treaty was received at Philadelphia on 13 March 1783; it was reviewed by the delegates meeting in the Second Continental Congress, and ratified on 15 April.
     The cessation of hostilities was formally announced by the Congress on 11 April 1783, four days prior to the Definitive Treaty of Peace being ratified. (See below.)
      The Definitive Treaty Of Peace Between The United States Of America And His Britannic Majesty was signed at Paris on 03 September 1783, effectively ending the American Revolutionary War. The document would be ratified by Congress on 14 January 1784, and ratifications exchanged between the countries on 12 May 1784.
     The date that is officially recognized (by the DAR and SAR) as the end of the American RevolutionaryWar is 26 November 1783: the date that the withdrawal of British troops from New York was completed.


     In the Name of the MOST HOLY and UNDIVIDED TRINITY.
     It having pleased the Divine Providence to dispose the hearts of the most serene and most potent Prince George Third, by the grace of God, King of Great-Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Duke of Brunswick and Lunenberg, Arch-Treasurer and Prince Elector of the Holy Roman Empire, &c. and of the United States of America, to forget all past misunderstandings and differences that have unhappily interrupted the good correspondence and friendship which they mutually wish to restore; and to establish such satisfactory and beneficial intercourse between the two countries upon the ground of reciprocal advantages and mutual convenience, as may promote and secure to both perpetual peace and harmony: And having for this desirable end, already laid the foundation of peace and reconciliation, by the provisional Articles, signed at Paris, on the thirtieth of November, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-two, by the commissioners empowered on each part, which articles were agreed to be inserted in, and constitute the treaty of peace proposed to be concluded between the crown of Great-Britain and the said United States, but which treaty was not to be concluded until terms of peace should be agreed upon between Great-Britain and France, and his Britannic majesty should be ready to conclude such treaty accordingly; and the treaty between Great-Britain and France, having since been concluded, his Britannic majesty and the United States of America, in order to carry into full effect the provisional articles abovementioned, according to the tenor thereof, have constituted and appointed, that is to say, His Britannic majesty on his part, David Hartley, Esquire, member of the Parliament of Great-Britain; and the said United States on their part, John Adams, Esquire, late a Commissioner of the United States of America at the Court of Versailles, late Delegate in Congress from the State of Massachusetts, and Chief Justice of the said State, and Minister Plenipotentiary of the said United States, to their High Mightinesses the States General of the United Netherlands; Benjamin Franklin, Esquire, late Delegate in Congress from the State of Pennsylvania, President of the Convention of the said State, and Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States of America at the Court of Versailles; John Jay, Esquire, late President of Congress, and Chief Justice of the State of New York, and Minister Plenipotentiary from the said United States at the Court of Madrid; to be the Plenipotentiaries for the concluding and signing the present definitive treaty; who after having reciprocally communicated their respective full powers, have agreed upon and confirmed the following articles.
     Article the First. His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, South-Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent States: That he treats with them as such, and for himself, his heirs and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same, and every part thereof.
     Article the Second. And that all disputes which might arise in future, on the subject of the boundaries of the said United States may be prevented, it is hereby agreed and declared, that the following are and shall be their boundaries, viz. From the north-west angle of Nova-Scotia, viz. that angle which is formed by a line, drawn due north from the source of St. Croix river to the Highlands; along the said Highlands which divide those rivers, that empty themselves into the river St. Lawrence, from those which fall into the Atlantic Ocean, to the north-westernmost head of Connecticut River; thence down along the middle of that river, to the forty-fifth degree of north latitude; from thence, by a line due west on said latitude, until it strikes the river Iroquois or Cataraquy; thence along the middle of said river into Lake Ontario, through the middle of said Lake until it strikes the communication by water between that Lake and Lake Erie; thence along the middle of said communication into Lake Erie, through the middle of said Lake until it arrives at the water communication between that Lake and Lake Huron; thence along the middle of said water communication into Lake Huron, thence through the middle of said Lake to the water communication between that Lake and Lake Superior; thence through Lake Superior, northward of the isles Royal and Phelipeaux, to the Long Lake; thence through the middle of said Long Lake, and the water communication between it and the Lake of the Woods, to the said Lake of the Woods; thence through the said Lake to the most north-westernmost point thereof, and from thence on a due west course to the river Mississippi; thence by a line to be drawn along the middle of the said river Mississippi until it shall intersect the northernmost part of the thirty-first degree of north latitude. South by a line to be drawn due east from the determination of the line last mentioned, in the latitude of thirty-one degrees of the Equator, to the middle of the river Apalachicola or Catahouche; thence along the middle thereof to its junction with the Flint River; thence straight to the head of Saint Mary's river; and thence down along the middle of Saint Mary's river to the Atlantic ocean. East, by a line to be drawn along the middle of the river St. Croix, from its mouth in the bay of Fundy, to its source and from its source directly north to the aforesaid Highlands which divide the rivers that fall into the Atlantic ocean, from those which fall into the river St. Lawrance: Comprehending all islands within twenty leagues of any part of the shores of the United States, and lying between lines to be drawn due east from the points where the aforesaid boundaries between Nova Scotia on the one part, and East Florida on the other, shall respectively, touch the bay of Fundy and the Atlantic ocean; excepting such islands as now are, or heretofore have been within the limits of the said province of Nova-Scotia.
     Article the Third. It is agreed that the people of the United States shall continue to enjoy unmolested the right to take fish of every kind on the grand bank, and on all the other banks of Newfoundland; also in the gulph of St. Lawrance, and at all other places in the sea, where the inhabitants of both countries used at any time heretofore to fish; and also that the inhabitants of the United States shall have liberty to take fish of every kind on such part of the coast of Newfoundland as British fishermen shall use (but not to dry or cure the same on that island); and also on the coasts, bays and creeks of all other of his Brittanic Majesty's dominions in America; and that the American fishermen shall have liberty to dry and cure fish in any of the unsettled bays, harbours, and creeks of Nova-Scotia, Magdalen islands, and Labrador, so long as the same shall remain unsettled; but so soon as the same or either of them shall be settled, it shall not be lawful for the said fishermen to dry or cure fish at such settlement, without a previous agreement for that purpose with the inhabitants, proprietors, or possessors of the ground.
     Article the Fourth. It is agreed that creditors on either side, shall meet with no lawful impediment to the recovery of the full value in sterling money, of all bona fide debts heretofore contracted.
     Article the Fifth. It is agreed that Congress shall earnestly recommend it to the Legislatures of the respective States, to provide for the restitution of all estates, rights and properties, which have been confiscated, belonging to real British subjects; and also of the estates, rights and properties of persons resident in districts in the possession on his Majesty's arms, and who have not borne arms against the said United States. And that persons of any other description shall have free liberty to go to any part or parts of any of the thirteen United States, and therein to remain twelve months unmolested in their endeavors to obtain the restitution of such of their estates, rights and properties as may have been confiscated. And that Congress shall also earnestly recommend to the several states a reconsideration and revision of all acts or laws regarding the premises, so as to render the said laws or acts perfectly consistent, not only with justice and equity, but with that spirit of conciliation, which on the return of the blessings of peace should universal prevail. And that Congress shall also earnestly recommend to the several States, that the estates, rights and properties of such last mentioned persons shall be restored to them; they refunding to any persons who may be now in possession, the bona fide price (where any has been given) which such persons may have paid on purchasing any of the said lands, rights or properties since the confiscation. And it is agreed that all persons who have any interest in confiscated land, either by debts, marriage settlements, or otherwise, shall meet with no lawful impediment in the prosecution of their just rights.
     Article the Sixth. That there shall be no future confiscations made, nor any prosecutions commenced against any person or persons for, or by reason of the part which he or they may have taken in the present war; and that no person shall, on that account, suffer any future loss or damage, either in his person, liberty or property; and that those who may be in confinement on such charges, at the time of the ratification of the treaty in America, shall be immediately set at liberty, and the prosecutions so commenced be discontinued.
     Article the Seventh. There shall be a firm and perpetual peace between his Brittanic Majesty and the said States, and between the subjects of the one and the citizens of the other, wherefore all hostilities both by sea and land shall from henceforth cease: All prisoners on both sides shall be set at liberty. And his Brittanic Majesty shall with all convenient speed, and without causing any destruction, or carrying away any negroes or other property of the American inhabitants, withdraw all his armies, garrisons and fleets from the said United States, and from every post, place and harbour within the same; leaving in all fortifications the American artilery that may be therein; and shall also order and cause all archieves, records, deeds and papers belonging to any of the said States, or their citizens, which in the course of the war may have fallen into the hands of his officers, to be forthwith restored and delivered to the proper States and persons to whom they belong.
     Article the Eighth. The navigation of the river Missisippi, from its source to the ocean, shall forever remain free and open to the subjects of Great-Britain, and the citizens of the United States.
     Article the Ninth. In case it should so happen that any place or territory belonging to Great-Britain or to the United States, should have been conquered by the arms of either from the other, before the arrival of the said provisional articles in America, it is agreed, that the same shall be restored without difficulty, and without requiring any compensation.
     Article the Tenth. The solemn ratifications of the present treaty, expedited in good and due form, shall be exchanged between the contracting parties, in the space of six months, or sooner if possible, to be computed from the day of the signatures of the present treaty. In witness whereof, we the undersigned, their Ministers Plenipotentiary, have in their name and in virtue of our full powers, signed with our hands the present definitive treaty, and caused the seals of our arms to be fixed thereto.
     DONE at Paris, this third day of September, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three.
     D. Hartley, John Adams, B. Franklin, John Jay.
From Laws Of The United States Of America, Volume I, 1795, Pages 473-477.
A Proclamation Declaring The Cessation Of Arms ~ 1783


     The cessation of hostilities was formally announced by means of a broadside printed and distributed in Philadelphia in 1783. The broadside is transcribed below.


     By The UNITED STATES of America In Congress Assembled.
     Declaring the Cessation of Arms, as well by Sea as by Land, agreed upon between the United States of America and His Britannic Majesty; and enjoining the Observance thereof.
     WHEREAS Provisional Articles were signed at Paris on the Thirtieth Day of November last, between the Ministers Planipotentiary of the United States of America for treating of Peace, and the Minister Planipotentiary of His Britannic Majesty, to be inserted in and to constitute the Treaty if OPeace proposed to be concluded between the United States of America and his Britannic Majesty, when Terms of Peace should be agreed upon between their Most Christian and Britannic Majesties: And Whereas Preliminaries for restoring Peace between their Most Christian and Britannic Majesties were signed at Versailles, on the Twentieth Day of January last, by the Ministers of their Most Christian and Britannic Majesties: And Whereas Preliminaries for restoring Peace between the said King of Great Britain and the King of Spain were also signed at Versailles, on the same Twentieth Day of January last.
     By which said Preliminary Articles it hath been agreed, That as soon as the same were ratified, Hostilities between the said Kings, their Kingdoms, States and Subjects, should Cease in all Parts of the World; and it was farther agreed, That all Vessels and Effects that might be taken in the Channel and in the North Seas, after the Space of Twelve Days from the Ratification of the said Preliminary Articles, should be restored; that the Term should be One Month from the Channel and North Seas as far as the Canary Islands inclusively, whether in the Ocean or the Mediterranean, Two Months from the said Canary Islands as far as the Equinoctial Line or Equator; and lastly, Five Months in all other Parts of the World, without any Exception or more particular description of time or Place: And Whereas it was Declared by the Minister Plenipotentiary of the King of Great Britain, in the Name and by the express Order of the King his Master, on the said Twentieth day of January last, that the said United States of America, their Subjects and their Possessions shall be comprised in the above mentioned Suspension of Arms, at the same Epochs, and in the same manner, as the three Crowns above mentioned, their Subjects and Possessions respectively; upon Condition that on the Part, and in the Name of the United States of America, a similar Declaration shall be Delivered, expressly Declaring their Assent to the said Suspension of Arms, and containing an Assurance of the most perfect Reciprocity on their Part: And Whereas the Ministers Plenipotentiary of these United States, did, on the same Twentieth Day of January, in the Name and by the Authority of the said United States, accept the said Declaration, and declare that the said States should cause all Hostilities to Cease against His Britannic Majesty, his Subjects and his Possessions, at the Terms and Epochs agreed upon between His said Majesty the King of Great-Britain, His Majesty the King of France, and His Majesty the King of Spain, so, and in the same Manner, as had been agreed upon between those Three Crowns, and to produce the same Effects: And Whereas the Ratifications of the said Preliminary Articles between their Most Christian and Britannic Majesties were exchanged by their Ministers on the Third Day of February last, and between His Britannic Majesty and the King of Spain on the Ninth Day of February last: And Whereas it is Our Will and Pleasure that the Cessation of Hostilities between the United States of America and his Britannic Majesty, should be conformable to the Epochs fixed between their Most Christian and Britannic Majesties.
     WE have thought fit to make known the same to the Citizens of these States, and we hereby strictly Charge and Command all our Officers, both by Sea and Land, and others, Subjects of these United States, to Forbear all Acts of Hostility, either by Sea or by Land, against His Britannic Majesty or his Subjects, from and after the respective Times agreed upon between their Most Christian and Britannic Majesties as aforesaid.
     AND We do further require all Governors and others, the Executive Powers of these United States respectively, to cause this our Proclamation to be made Public, to the end that the same be duly observed within their several Jurisdictions.
     Done in Congress, at Philadelphia, this Eleventh Day of April, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-Three, and of our Sovereignty and Independence the Seventh.
     Attest. CHA THOMSON Secty.      ELIAS BOUDINOT Presid
From A Rising People ~ The Founding Of The United States 1765 to 1789, 1976, Photo reproduction of Proclamation, Page 187.