On this day in 1784, at the Maryland State House in Annapolis, the Continental Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris. The document, negotiated in part by future President John Adams, contained terms for ending the Revolutionary War and established the United States as a sovereign nation. The treaty outlined America’s fishing rights off the coast of Canada, defined territorial boundaries in North America formerly held by the British and forced an end to reprisals against British loyalists. Two other future presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, were among the delegates who ratified the document on January 14, 1784.
Thomas Jefferson had planned to travel to Paris to join Adams, John Jay and Benjamin Franklin for the beginning of talks with the British in 1782. However, after a delay in his travel plans, Jefferson received word that a cessation of hostilities had been announced by King George III the previous December. Jefferson arrived in Paris in late February after the treaty had already been negotiated by Adams, Franklin and Jay.
Adams’ experience and skill in diplomacy prompted Congress to authorize him to act as the United States’ representative in negotiating treaty terms with the British. Following his role in ending the Revolutionary War and his participation in drafting the Declaration of Independence, Adams succeeded George Washington as the second president of the United States in 1797.