1782 - Treaty with England

Adams, Franklin and Jay sign the Treaty of Paris in 1782, formally ending the war for independence from the king of England.

        Light snow dusted the cobbled streets of Paris as carriages pulled up to the Hotel d'Orleans on the Rue des Petis-Augustines, where the American, John Jay, had arranged to commence treaty negotiations with England on October 30, 1782.  (for more, click here)

John Jay

       This and subsequent sessions commenced at 11 o'clock each morning.  Negotiating for the new republic were John Jay, John Adams (who had three weeks before concluded a treaty of commerce with the Dutch at the Hauge), and Benjamin Franklin, who represented the United States to the French throughout the War of Independence. 

         As secretary for the American commissioners, Franklin selected his grandson, William Temple Franklin, the twenty-two year old illegitimate son of Franklin's illegitimate son, William, the former Tory governor of New Jersey who was then living in London.  Also in attendance were Franklin's longtime friend and associate, a British spy named Bancroft, and the young French hero of the American Revolution, the Marquis de Lafayette, recently arrived home from North America.

(Click here for more on this treaty)

         The fundamental questions to be dealt with in the treaty negotiations were: the boundaries of the United States; the right of navigation on the Mississippi; debts; the interests of American Tories and Loyalists; and American fishing rights on the Grand Banks off Newfoundland.

            The Americans insisted that Britain cede all territory between the Appalachian Mountains on the east, and the Mississippi River on the west.  Britain agreed to this demand, "thus at a stroke doubling the side of the new nation."

John Adams

         The preliminary draft of the treaty was signed on November 30, 1782.  Richard Oswald, representing England, was first to sign, followed by the four Americans.

         The final document would be signed at the Hotel d'York on the Rue Jacob.  Again, the signatures would be fixed in the customary order, Adams, Franklin, Jay, along with that of the King's new representative, David Hartley.  The all important first sentence of Article I declared "His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United States…to be free, sovereign and independent states."  Then, the last line read "Done at Paris, this third day of September, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty three."

      Just a few miles away, and some twenty years later, another agreement would be struck that would 'change the known world' by more than doubling the geographic area of the new nation.  In the first treaty, Britain sought to separate the Americans from their French allies.  In the second, France's Napoleon sought to separate Americans from their British cousins.

      The treaty at Paris was as advantageous to Americans as any in history, and the American negotiators were received at home as heroes.