On this day in 1783, the Continental Congress of the United States officially ratifies the preliminary peace treaty with Great Britain that was signed in November 1782. The congressional move brings the nascent nation one step closer to the conclusion of the Revolutionary War.
Five months later, on September 3, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed by representatives of the United States, Great Britain, Spain and France, officially bringing an end to the Revolutionary War. It also formalized Great Britain’s recognition of America’s independence.
The treaty established the Mississippi River as the western boundary of the new United States; allowed U.S. fishermen to troll the waters off Newfoundland, Canada; recognized the legitimacy of pre-war debts owed by Americans and Britons; and promised to reunite American Loyalists with property seized from them during the war. The American and Britons were satisfied with the agreement. However, western Indians who had allied themselves to Britain discovered that their land had been handed over by the British to the Americans without consultation or compensation. As they had neither lost their battles nor negotiated a treaty with the Americans, they continued to fight until 1795. Spain assisted southern Indians as they fought to protect their land from encroaching Georgians.
North of the Ohio Valley, the British maintained their forts at Niagara and Detroit, despite their promise to withdraw in the Treaty of Paris. They argued that Americans had breached the treaty by failing to return Loyalist property and pay British creditors as promised. American willingness to trade with revolutionary France further angered the British, and increased their promises of British aid to aggrieved Indians. The British only retreated from the Northwest Territory following the negotiation of the controversial Jay treat with Britain, which was ratified in 1795.