The Treaty of Paris – The U.S. Constitution Online – USConstitution.net

The Treaty of Paris

The American Revolutionary War began in April of 1775, and though the
outcome was never certain, the Americans had the force of will to carry them
through the conflict. That, and the skill and good luck of the American
military commanders. In 1781, the Continental Army, under the command of
General George Washington, begin a siege of British troops in Yorktown,
Virginia. The army was originally going to attack New York City, but plans
changed when it was learned that French ships of war would be arriving off the
shore of Yorktown. Once French and American forces surrounded Yorktown, cutting
of land escape routes, and the French naval bombardment begin, British General
Charles Cornwallis was trapped. With supplies running low, Cornwallis sued for

After the defeat at Yorktown, British hopes for victory in America are all
but lost. They begin to pull out of America, and loyalists begin to flee to
Canada. Earlier in the year, Congress had authorized Benjamin Franklin, John
Jay, Henry Laurens, and Thomas Jefferson to join John Adams in negotiations
with the British. In February, 1782, Parliament had had enough and authorized
the King to negotiate peace with the Americans.

In the end, Franklin would negotiate a peace that focused on four points.
First, the independence and recognition of the United States. Second, the
retention of British rule in Canada and the setting of a definite boundary
between the US and Canada. Third, agreement on the borders of the United
States. Fourth, an agreement allowing American fishing in the waters off
Newfoundland. These points are all included in the text reproduced below. For
the British, the peace was not only prudent but crucial – the defeat in North
America had emboldened its enemies: France and Spain on one side and Russia and
the Nordic states on the other. The Treaty of Paris was the beginning of a long
time relationship between Britain and its former colony, the War of 1812
excepted, that continues to this day.

Sources for the text above include The
History Place
and A History of the American People by Paul

The source for this text is the Avalon
. The text has been modified slightly to expand abbreviations,
modernize spelling, and enhance readability. Footnotes explain arcane language
or uncommon terms. The text can also be found in the Library of Congress’s
of Lawmaking

The Definitive Treaty of Peace 1783

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 the Third, by the grace of God, king of
Great Britain, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, duke of Brunswick
and Lunebourg, 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 a beneficial and satisfactory 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 30th of November 1782, 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 [1], his Britannic Majesty and the
United States of America, in order to carry into full effect the Provisional
Articles above mentioned, 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 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 1

His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New
Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,
Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, 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 2

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
northwest 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
northwesternmost 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 northwesternmost 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 Saint 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 Saint Lawrence; 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 3

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 Gulf of Saint Lawrence 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, harbors, 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 4

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 5

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 universally 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
lands, either by debts, marriage settlements, or otherwise, shall meet with no
lawful impediment in the prosecution of their just rights.

Article 6

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 7

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 harbor within the same; leaving in all
fortifications, the American artillery that may be therein; and shall also order
and cause all archives, 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 8

The navigation of the river Mississippi, 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 9

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 10

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 affixed thereto.

Done at Paris, this third day of September in the year of our Lord, one
thousand seven hundred and eighty-three.

David Hartley
John Adams
Benjamin Franklin
John Jay [2]


1. A preliminary treaty between France and Britain was signed
on January 20, 1783.

2. Henry Laurens did not sign the Treaty, but he was
instrumental in its negotiation. Thomas Jefferson was unable to attend the
negotiations due to delays in his departure because of weather.