Treaty of Paris: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Philip McMurry

Philip has taught college history, English, and political science, and he has a doctorate in American history.

This lesson explains the Treaty of Paris which ended the American Revolution in 1783 and formally recognized the United States as an independent nation. It further discusses the points of the treaty as well as its significance.

Rights and Grievances

Have you ever had a disagreement with a friend that led to your not speaking to each other for a while? Did you then realize that although you both have differences, you can still be friends? That is what happened between the American colonies and Great Britain in the American Revolution.

There were many separate events that led up to the Revolutionary War. Mainly, the British colonies were tired of being taxed by England when they had no say about the taxes and no representation in the British parliament. Finally, in October 1774, the First Continental Congress sent a respectful petition to King George III, listing the rights they believed they were entitled to as well as their grievances regarding the numerous laws that Britain had recently imposed upon the colonists. King George III refused to address these concerns, so the colonists took matters into their own hands. On April 19, 1775, the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired.

By the summer of 1776, with the Revolutionary War still going strong, leaders of the colonies convened the Second Continental Congress where they drafted and signed the Declaration of Independence officially stating that they were creating a new nation that would be free of British rule.

The Signing of the Declaration of Independence
Signing of the Declaration of Independence

The Revolutionary War

At first, things did not go very well for the United States. British soldiers took control of important cities like New York and Philadelphia. However, the Americans, led by George Washington, were able to keep fighting and eventually won some important battles such as the Battle of Saratoga in upstate New York. Then France joined the war as an ally to the United States providing much needed support. By 1781, the British realized that they were powerless to stop the American Revolution and they called for a cease-fire to discuss terms.

The British surrender at the Battle of Saratoga
Battle of Saratoga

Meeting in Paris

In 1782, representatives from Britain, France, and the United States met in Paris to begin working on a treaty to end the conflict. The United States, represented by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and John Jay, quickly realized that France was more concerned about affairs in Europe than helping the United States get a fair settlement with Britain, so the Americans and British decided that they would meet and sign a separate treaty.

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