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04-15   Print  E-mail
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There shall be a firm and perpetual

 peace between his Britannic Majesty and the said States, . . . wherefore all hostilities both by sea and land shall then immediately cease. The Continental Congress ratified preliminary articles of peace ending the Revolutionary War with Great Britain on April 15, 1783. International intrigue and intense negotiation preceded the formulation of these preliminary articles.

The June 1, 1781 entry in the Journals of the Continental Congress notes "that Congress have received undoubted intelligence...that the Courts of Vienna and Petersburg have offered their mediation to the belligerent powers for the re-establishment of peace..." A few days later, on June 15, 1781, the Congress issued "instructions to honourable John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Henry Laurens and Thomas Jefferson, ministers plenipotentiary on behalf of the United States to negotiate a treaty of peace." Although Jefferson did not go to Europe to negotiate, he eventually shepherded the treaty through Congress and later drafted the legislation for the political organization of the western lands acquired by the treaty.

Formal discussions of peace began in Paris in April of 1782. The French, who had been in alliance with the Americans since 1778, along with Spain and the Netherlands also sought to end hostilities with Great Britain and pressured the U.S. to seek peace only in alliance. Regarding a British offer to negotiate directly with its former colony the French warned:

...treating separately with America...this had always been the chimerical and favourite idea of England; and that so long as it subsisted there would perhaps be no possibility of treating seriously about the conditions of a peace. That their negotiations would only be an artifice to scatter divisions among the allies, and retard their exertions for continuing the war...

Entry for Tuesday, September 24, 1782, in Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789
A Century of Lawmaking.



 

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