The Peace of Versailles in 1783 - North American Colonies

Taken from The British Empire in the Nineteenth Century (1898) by Edgar Sanderson

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and Savannah and New York for about two years, after the capitulation of Lord Cornwallis, and George the Third was still resolved to continue the effort to conquer the "rebellion".

The powerful and benignant influence of Washington was needed to prevent disastrous quarrel between the army and the civil powers, but the feeling of the British nation, with the resignation of Lord North in March, 1782, prepared the way for the Peace of Versailles, in January, 1783, acknowledging the thirteen Colonies of America to be free, sovereign, and independent states, and relinquished, for the British crown, all claims to the government thereof, and to proprietary and territorial rights. The treaty was signed, on behalf of the Americans, by John Adams, of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin, of Pennsylvania, and John Jay, of New York. The causes of success in a war waged by a people numbering only two millions against the enormous odds of Great Britain, with about ten millions (exclusive of Ireland) and an overwhelming superiority in resources of every kind, must be sought in the distance of the scene of action from the British base of operations, in the combination of powerful European foes with which Britain was required to deal, and, above all, in the constancy, determination, and skill displayed, amongst much despondency of feeble souls, and much traitorous ill-will to the colonial cause, by George Washington, General Gates, General Greene, and other leaders of their country's levies. Whatever the causes, whatever the remoter issues were to be, right or wrong, for good or for evil, the work was done, and a new nation was thus placed on the roll of independent states.

As one immediate consequence of this great change in American affairs, many of the people who called themselves " United Empire Loyalists" migrated from the United States into Canada and adjacent territory, where they settled, to the number of about forty thousand, on the banks of the St. Lawrence and the shores of Lake Ontario, and in that part of Nova Scotia which was afterwards called New Brunswick. Lands were assigned to them by the British government, and a great impulse was given to the progress of the territory which had been lately conquered from the French. Soon after the conclusion of peace at Versailles, the army was disbanded, and Washington, after a solemn and affecting farewell to his officers, retired to his estate of Mount Vernon, with the eulogies … continue reading »


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