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On This Day in History -
February 4, 1783

King George III declares a permanent ceasefire to the American Revolution

On this day in history, February 4, 1783, King George III declares a permanent ceasefire to the American Revolution. After the surrender of General Charles Cornwallis' army at Yorktown, Virginia in October, 1781, many members of Parliament decided it was time to end the war. The House of Commons first voted to end the war on February 27, 1782 and in March, Prime Minister North resigned.

By April 4, General Henry Clinton was replaced as Commander of British forces in North America by Sir Guy Carleton, who was charged with implementing a withdrawal. Informal peace negotiations began in April in Paris between Ben Franklin and Richard Oswald, the representative of the new Prime Minister, Charles Watson Wentworth, the Marquess of Rockingham.

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

By September, 1782, John Jay had arrived in Paris from Spain and John Adams had arrived from Holland. They joined the now formal peace negotiations and on November 30, a preliminary peace treaty is signed, in which Britain acknowledges the sovereignty of the United States, the boundaries of the United States are determined and Britain agrees to withdraw its forces from US territory.

The House of Commons

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The House of Commons at Westminster
by Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Charles Pugin, 1808

The preliminary treaty is ratified by Parliament on January 20, 1783 and a ceasefire is declared by King George on February 4. The American Congress declares a ceasefire on April 11 and ratifies the preliminary treaty on April 15, 1783.

On September 3, 1783, the final Treaty of Paris is signed in Paris by representatives John Jay, John Adams and Ben Franklin from America and representative David Hartley from Great Britain. Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris on January 14, 1784 and Parliament ratifies it on April 9, 1784. The final act of the road to peace is a formal exchanging of the signed documents in Paris on May 12, 1784, finally bringing the American Revolution to a close.

This Week in History

Published 2/4/13

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