On this day in 1783, nearly three months after the Treaty of Paris was signed ending the American Revolution, the last British soldiers withdraw from New York City, the last British military position in the United States. After the last Redcoat departed New York, U.S. General George Washington entered the city in triumph to the cheers of New Yorkers. The city had remained in British hands since its capture in September 1776.
Four months after New York was returned to the victorious Patriots, the city was declared to be the capital of the United States. In 1789, it was the site of Washington’s inauguration as the first U.S. president and remained the nation’s capital until 1790, when Philadelphia became the second capital of the United States under the U.S. Constitution.
New Yorkers shaped the history of two new nations. The British evacuated their New York Loyalists to remaining British territories, mainly in Canada. These families had been dispossessed of their land and belongings by the victorious Patriots because of their continued support of the British king and were able to regain some financial independence through lands granted to them by the British in western Quebec (now Ontario) and Nova Scotia. Their arrival in Canada permanently shifted the demographics of what had been French-speaking New France until 1763 into an English-speaking colony, and later nation, with the exception of a French-speaking and culturally French area in eastern Canada that is now Quebec.
In 1784, one year after their arrival, the new Loyalist population spurred the creation of New Brunswick in the previously unpopulated (by Europeans, at least) lands west of the Bay of Fundy in what had been Nova Scotia. In 1785, the Loyalists yet again made their mark on Canadian history when their combined settlements at Parrtown and Carleton of approximately 14,000 people became British North America’s first incorporated city under the name City of Saint John. The division between the Anglophile and Francophile sections was ultimately recognized by creating the English-dominant province of Ontario, west of Quebec, in 1867.