Treaty of Paris: Summary & Analysis

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  • 0:02 The Background
  • 2:11 The Treaty of Paris Summary
  • 4:16 Analysis of the Treaty
  • 5:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Katie Surber

Katie has a Master's degree in English and has taught college level classes for ten years.

In this lesson, we will discuss the Treaty of Paris and the events that led up to its signing. After summarizing the treaty, we will analyze its aftermath.

The Background

On September 3rd in 1783, three men well known in American history gathered in Paris to negotiate and sign the document that officially declared the end of the Revolutionary War. These men, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay, were appointed by the Continental Congress to end the war with Great Britain. This document, the Treaty of Paris, ended the Revolutionary War and granted the thirteen colonies independence. Following this, the United States would be recognized as its own country.

The events leading to the Treaty of Paris really began in 1765 when Great Britain decided that the American colonies should have more taxes. Following the Seven Years' War with France, Great Britain was heavily in debt. To try to overcome this debt, Great Britain passed the Stamp Act, which directly taxed the colonies for the first time. Previous to this, all taxes were made on imports, but this tax started in the colonies.

The citizens of the colonies were angry and argued that because they did not have representation in the British Parliament, they should not be taxed. The colonies immediately began to boycott British goods and created an environment for resistance. Following this, Great Britain passed the Declaratory Act, declaring that the colonies have always been and still were dependent on the British government. The British Parliament continued to tax the colonies, the colonies continued to declare the taxes illegal, and it was not long until the rebellion became violent.

In 1774, the colonies formed the First Continental Congress and began to develop a plan to work with the British Parliament. The Continental Congress wanted the Parliament to agree that they had no control over the colonies, which they, of course, did not do. In 1775, Great Britain officially declared Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion. Troops were sent in and the Revolutionary War was officially started.

The Revolutionary War lasted for eight years, spanning many battles throughout the colonies. With the Treaty of Paris, it was finally coming to an end!

The Treaty of Paris Summary

The negotiations for the Treaty of Paris actually began in 1782, although it was not signed until 1783. The Continental Congress had originally appointed five men to the committee. However, Thomas Jefferson did not arrive in Paris to sign the treaty and Henry Laurens was held captive by the English government. For this reason, only Franklin, Adams, and Jay were present for the signing.

The Treaty of Paris consisted of ten articles.

The first article of the Treaty of Paris recognized the colonies as an independent nation, the United States of America. For this to happen, Great Britain had to agree that they no longer had government control, nor any property rights.

Second, the Treaty of Paris also established the borders of the United States. These boundaries were marked in the treaty.

Third, it addressed the rules for fishing. Yes, fishing was quite important to them. The treaty gave the United States people freedom to fish for any kind of fish they wanted and in the waters that they wanted.

Fourth, following the war, both countries were in debt. The countries agreed that they would not prevent other countries from collecting debt.

Fifth, any land or property that was taken during the war from British loyalists would be returned to them.

Sixth, United States would prevent any further confiscation of property from loyalists.

Seventh, all prisoners of war would be released. In addition, Great Britain agreed to remove all troops from the United States without taking any American citizens.

Eighth, the Mississippi River would remain open to both countries.

Ninth, any territories captured by either country during the Treaty of Paris negotiations would be returned to the owning country. Remember that this was in 1783 and news did not travel as quickly. It took several weeks, if not longer, for news of the negotiations and signing to become well known.

Tenth, both countries agreed to ratify the treaty within six months.

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