The 1783 Treaty of Paris: America’s Future on the Brink
Signed in 1783, the Treaty of Paris ended the War for Independence and created the United States of America. On the one hand, the Treaty of Paris was a triumph for US diplomacy, securing rights to all land east of the Mississippi River, important fishing rights, and the restoration of property and prisoners of war. The Treaty reset relations with Britain and created a new border with Spanish North America. On the other hand, the treaty irreparably damaged the US-French alliance. Natives, loyalists, and fugitives from American slavery were left to fend for themselves. On Tuesday, October 11 at 1:15 p.m., Richard Bell, Professor of History at the University of Maryland, will examine several fascinating historical questions about the Treaty of Paris. The Lexington Veterans Association will host this hybrid meeting at Cary Memorial Library with a live audience and participation by Zoom. The public is invited for coffee and conversation at 12:45 p.m. with the program beginning at 1:15 p.m.
● Why was the Treaty of Paris so generous to the United States in terms of greatly enlarged boundaries?
● Slaves had served in the British Army under a guarantee of freedom at the end of the war. The treaty stipulated that these slaves must now be returned to their owners. What happened when the treaty went into effect?
● Why was the famous painting of the treaty negotiators never finished?
● Did Great Britain honor the treaty provision to remove British forts?
● France, America’s ally, had provided vital financial and military support to the American cause, including the site for the treaty negotiations. Yet France was cut out of the negotiations. What was the impact of that huge diplomatic snub?
Richard Bell is Professor of History at the University of Maryland and author of the book Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home, which was a finalist for the George Washington Prize and the Harriet Tubman Prize. He has held major research fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, and the Library of Congress and is the recipient of the National Endowment of the Humanities Public Scholar award and the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship. He serves as a Trustee of the Maryland Center for History and Culture and as a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.