Fourth Estate Award Entry, History, Holidays, Patriotic, War

Paris Treaty Bicentennial Noted

Click to see original imageIt was a bicentennial that sparked little or no fanfare, but one certainly worthy of remembrance.

We’re alluding to the 200th anniversary of the Jan. 14, 1784. ratification by Congress of the “final Treaty of Paris” which officially ended the Revolutionary War.

Actually congressional endorsement was more or less a formality. But it had its place in the colonies’ successful fight for freedom and their becoming the independent United States of America.

The really important document was the final Treaty of Parts itself, signed by the Americans and British a few months earlier – Sept. 3, 1783 in the French capital.

The signing concluded lengthy negotiations, coming nearly two years after British forces under General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Va., Oct. 19, 1781 to American troops bolstered by French units. That was the last major battle of the war.

Americans and Britons had negotiated a preliminary agreement Nov. 30, 1782. But with the final act concluded, Benjamin Franklin (one of the American commissioners who negotiated the peace) could say at last: “We are now friends with England and with all mankind.”

Fighting in the Revolutionary War had begun more than eight painfully difficult years before – April 19, 1775 – with “the shot heard around the world” when Colonial troops clashed with British redcoats at Lexington and Concord, Mass.

Even after the climatic Yorktown victory, the war atmosphere lingered, though with easing pressure. Occasional fighting between the patriots and the redcoats continued for more than a year, chiefly in the south.

British troops remained in America until after the final Paris Treaty. In the meantime, Gen. George Washington and restless, unpaid patriot soldiers had to wait out the uncertain peace, not knowing whether the war might resume.

This paragraph from author Bart McDowell’s history of the Revolution captures the poignant moment when the last British troops finally departed:

(As they) “marched from New York Nov. 25, 1783, ‘equipped for show… with their scarlet uniforms,’ a woman recalled, ‘the patriots marched in, ill-clad and weather beaten… but then they were OUR troops… and my eyes were full.'”

There will be other bicentennial anniversaries worthy of note in this period two centuries after the series of events that established America as a free and independent nation.

We celebrated the big one in 1976, the 200th milestone of the Declaration of Independence. Another major commemoration is projected for the bicentennial of the Constitution in 1987-88.

Those were momentous times during the founding of the United States of America. Why not reread the fascinating history? It will make your heart swell with pride.