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The Treaty of Paris Period (1783 - 1787)

From Wartime to Peacetime--at a Price

Between 1774 and 1789, 14 Forgotten Presidents served under the Articles of Confederation and the Continental Congress
Five of them--Elias Boudinot, Thomas Mifflin, Richard Henry Lee, Nathaniel Gorham and Arthur St. Clair--served from 1783 - 1787 during the Treaty of Paris Period, the time between the Revolution and the Constitutional Convention. Even though Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris, it failed to abide by its terms by not paying back its wartime debts to Great Britain, France, Spain, and the Netherlands; only when the new Constitution went into effect could Congress raise the funds necessary to pay both the wartime debts to foreign nations and the money owed to the veterans of the Revolutionary War who had not been paid. Independence had been agreed to in Paris in exchange for the payment of the wartime debts. If the United States defaulted, its independence could be in jeopardy. Under the Articles of Confederation, Congress could not tax. States were asked to pay Congress what was needed, but the States did not have the money, and that left Congress on the brink of a default of its wartime debts. The members of the 1786 Annapolis Convention was asked to analyze the situation and suggest a course of action, which they did in a report written by Alexander Hamilton: A new political structure needs to be written in Philadelphia next year (1787).

Under President Boudinot in 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Revolutionary War but obligating the U.S. to pay off its debts.
Under President Mifflin from 1783-84, Gen. George Washington retired as Commander-in-Chief and the Treaty of Paris was ratified.
Under President Lee in 1785, Maryland and Virginia signed the Mount Vernon Compact, agreeing to the use of the Potomac River by others.
Under President Gorham in 1786, Shays's Rebellion and the Annapolis Convention made it clear the Articles of Confederation weren't working.
Under President St. Clair in 1787, the states met in Philadelphia at the Constitutional Convention and decided to write a new Constitution.

The Constitution was ratified in 1788 under President Cyrus Griffin, who then resigned to allow preparations for the inauguration of a new bicameral, federal government with a separate President, George Washington. On March 2, 1789, the unicameral Congress under the Articles of Confederation ceased to exist. On March 4, 1789, the new Constitution went into effect when the bicameral Congress took their oaths of office. On April 30, 1789, George Washington took the oath of office. The United States paid off its wartime debts under the new Constitution, which is new Constitution is still in effect today, but the 14 men who served as President under the Articles of Confederation and the Continental Congress also played an important role in shaping the nation that exists today, and they must not be forgotten.

Annapolis: The First Peacetime Capital of the United States

During the Treaty of Paris Period, the spotlight was on Annapolis from the time when Congress first arrived at the Maryland State House in 1783 until the end of the 1786 Annapolis Convention at Mann's Tavern. Annapolis was the bridge between the Revolution and the Constitution!
The signing of the 1783 Treaty of Paris
The 1787 Constitutional Convention


The Treaty of Paris Period

is the time between the end of the Revolutionary War
and the start of the
Constitutional Convention.

During the Treaty of Paris Period, a newly independent United States made a difficult but deliberate transition from fighting a war to governing a nation through several key steps (see below) that eventually culminated in a new Constitution. Without learning this history, and why these events took place during that time, it's difficult to understand why a new Constitution was needed in peacetime once the Revolutionary War was finally over. As a result, most Americans don't know about the first form of American government and who was in charge of it. Students learn a version of history that seems to skip right from the Revolution straight to the Constitution.

The Hall of Presidents Before Washington is dedicated to interpreting and understanding the importance of the crucial events that took place between the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783 and the Constitutional Convention in 1787, a neglected era that is mostly omitted when teaching American history in elementary school, high school and college. With over 1,700 people in our database, we are one of the largest history-related groupings of teachers, education administrators, historical organizations, elected officials, government employees, retired military personnel, community centers and interested citizens in the state. During the Treaty of Paris Period, there was neither a war going on nor a Constitution being written. It is the first period of peacetime rule prior to the new Constitution. Official independence began in Annapolis, the first peacetime capital of the United States.

Attempting to fulfill the terms of the 1783 Treaty of Paris led to a national convention in 1787 to write a new Constitution.

This is the Treaty of Paris Period (1783-87):
The Bridge between the Revolution and the Constitution


Overview

BELOW: A film on the "Annapolis Era" (Nov. 26, 1783 - Sept. 14, 1786)
within the Treaty of Paris Period (1783-87).

The Chronology of the Treaty of Paris Period

1783

BELOW: The Treaty of Paris Period began with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in France on September 3, 1783
by Americans
Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and John Adams, which formally ended the Revolutionary War. The terms of peace included the United States agreeing to pay its wartime debts to Great Britain, France, Spain, and the Netherlands.

BELOW: The resignation of his Army commission by General George Washington in the Old Senate Chamber of the Maryland State House in Annapolis on December 23, 1783, set the stage for permanent, civilian rule of the United States.

Above, General Washington reads his resignation speech (below).

1784

BELOW: The ratification of the Treaty of Paris, also in the Old Senate Chamber (left) of the Maryland State House in Annapolis, by printed Proclamation (right) on January 14, 1784, led to official American independence.

President Thomas Mifflin and Secretary of Congress Charles Thomson signed the Proclamation that ratified the Treaty of Paris and stamped it with the seal of Congress.

BELOW: The April 23, 1784 Land Ordinance, a bill proposed by Delegate Thomas Jefferson and passed
by Congress in Annapolis, created new states out of the land west of the Appalachian Mountains and laid the groundwork for the 1787 Northwest Ordinance and the future westward expansion of the United States.
BELOW: The appointment of Thomas Jefferson as a minister to France on May 7, 1784
allowed the author of the Declaration of Independence to further America's economic policy in Europe.

1785

BELOW: The Mount Vernon Compact between Maryland and Virginia, hosted by George Washington at his home from March 25-28, 1785, led to an agreement on the use of the Potomac River and showed that the states had the ability to resolve the many pressing issues, such as commerce, trade and expansion, that divided them after the end of the War.
Above: Host General George Washington (retired).
Below: Mount Vernon in Virginia.

Maryland and Virginia signed the 1785
Mount Vernon Compact

1786

BELOW: Shays' Rebellion, which began on August 29, 1786 and lasted well into 1787, made clear that as long as Congress lacked the power to raise the money needed to pay its foreign wartime debts and the money owed to the veterans of the Revolutionary War, the Articles of Confederation needed to be either remedied or replaced.
Above: Daniel Shays.
Below: The Articles of Confederation.
BELOW: The September 11-14, 1786 Annapolis Convention at Mann's Tavern was attended by 12 delegates from 5 states. James Madison and Alexander Hamilton argued that the Articles of Confederation did not provide the national government with enough power to solve the many problems it faced during the Treaty of Paris Period, including a possible default of its wartime debts. Hamilton was tasked by  Chairman John Dickinson with writing a report to Congress calling for another convention with all of the states in Philadelphia in 1787.
Above: Mann's Tavern in Annapolis, Maryland.
James Madison
Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton wrote the Report to Congress on the findings of the 1786 Annapolis Convention

1787

BELOW: Yale University History Professor Dr. Joanne Freeman delivers a terrific lecture on
"The Road to the Constitution."
Once the meeting in Philadelphia that ultimately became
the Constitutional Convention began on May 14, 1787, the Treaty of Paris Period
ended.
Attempting to fulfill the terms of the 1783 Treaty of Paris led to a national convention in 1787 to write a new Constitution.
The Treaty of Paris Period (1783-87) needs to be taught, analyzed and discussed in order to fully understand how a nation victorious in its war for independence found it necessary to write a new Constitution that today is the oldest continuously-used legal format for running a country.

We can help you rediscover the Treaty of Paris Period (1783-87)!
TEACHERS: Click here for suggested classroom strategies

Mark Croatti is available to come and speak to your class, school, college or community about the Treaty of Paris Period (1783-87) or provide a walking tour for any size group (even 2 or 3 people) covering the following events:

* 1783: The Treaty of Paris is signed in France, Congress arrives and George Washington's resigns as Commander-in-Chief.
* 1784
: The Treaty of Paris is ratified in Annapolis, John Jay is appointed Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and Thomas Jefferson is appointed as a trade minister to France.
* 1785: Maryland and Virginia sign the Mount Vernon Compact.
* 1786
: The Annapolis Convention meets after Shays's Rebellion begins.
* 1787: Shays' Rebellion ends and the Constitutional Convention starts.

Rates

To come speak: Negotiable.
Walking tours: Negotiable.

To book Mark Croatti to speak or provide a guided tour, email: markcroatti@hotmail.com