The Paris Peace Treaty of 1783

unionblue

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#1
Fellow members,

It has often been mentioned that the Paris Peace Treaty of 1783 somehow infers that the thirteen States were recognized as individual, sovereign nations.

Here is a web site with the entire treaty.

http://www.law.ou.edu/hist/paris.html

After reading said treaty in its entirety, I cannot understand how anyone could come to the above conclusion.

Could anyone please list the reasons as to why this treaty invokes the sentiment that the thirteen states would come across as separate, individual nations?

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

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#3
Neil,

It seems that I usually agree with you on most of your postings, but the Paris Treaty of 1783 recognizes both the existence of the United States (the "United States" is repeatedly referred to in the document)and the existence of the individual states. Article 1 of the treaty acknowledges the individual states as "free sovereign and independent states" (interestingly enough, it appears that Delaware is not included in Article 1).

I find the arguments regarding the "right" of secession to be fascinating. After reading articles which take opposite views and attending a debate on the issue, I still can't figure out whether there was a right to secede or not; there are valid arguments on both sides. At the risk of raising hackles, though, I'd have to say that the outcome of the Civil War made the point somewhat irrelevant because it became plain that any state that would subsequently choose secession would face overwhelming political, economic, and military force.

Ray
 

hoosier

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#4
For the most part, the treaty seems to identify the United States as a single nation.

But Article I does say, "His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz. (names of twelve states) to be free sovereign and independent states..."

So I guess it could be argued that the treaty supports both the idea that the United States was a single nation and that it was a collection of separate, individual nations.

Incidentally, how in the name of Caesar Rodney did they leave Delaware out of the list in Article I?
 
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#5
Neil,

Great topic!

I'd say that people get that idea from:

Article 1:
His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent states, that he treats with them as such, and for himself, his heirs, and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof.

...and...

Article 5:
It is agreed that Congress shall earnestly recommend it to the legislatures of the respective states to provide for the restitution of all estates, rights, and properties, which have been confiscated belonging to real British subjects; and also of the estates, rights, and properties of persons resident in districts in the possession on his Majesty's arms and who have not borne arms against the said United States. And that persons of any other decription shall have free liberty to go to any part or parts of any of the thirteen United States and therein to remain twelve months unmolested in their endeavors to obtain the restitution of such of their estates, rights, and properties as may have been confiscated; and that Congress shall also earnestly recommend to the several states a reconsideration and revision of all acts or laws regarding the premises, so as to render the said laws or acts perfectly consistent not only with justice and equity but with that spirit of conciliation which on the return of the blessings of peace should universally prevail. And that Congress shall also earnestly recommend to the several states that the estates, rights, and properties, of such last mentioned persons shall be restored to them, they refunding to any persons who may be now in possession the bona fide price (where any has been given) which such persons may have paid on purchasing any of the said lands, rights, or properties since the confiscation.

Hal
 
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aphillbilly

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#6
Article 1
His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent states, that he treats with them as such, and for himself, his heirs, and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof.


One thing has ALWAYS been a VERY big sticking point with me. Neil, I will try my best to say this, hoping you will bear in mind and make allowances for my less than able mental prowess.

The founding fathers did not name the colonies "States" without a reason. They did not call them counties, provinces, territories, or districts when they formed the union. They called them States. As in the phrase "Heads of State"....or "Statesmen." These men were generally pretty specific in what they wanted to say and worded things carefully. States....yet today the states are nothing more than counties or provinces. There is no independence. Nothing to distinguish one from another. We are mere counties. Much the way Hampshire or Berkshire is to England. And to me my friend, that used to be distressing but now merely makes me sad.

YMOS
tommy
 

unionblue

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#7
To All,

I still find it somewhat confusing (for myself) how this document could ever lead to the idea that one could claim that England was dealing with 13 individual, sovereign nations.

In the very first part of the treaty a statement is made saying, "between the two countries" not a collection of nation-states.

I also looked up the definition of "viz." which to me seemed somewhat key in defining if the individual states were being portrayed somehow as sovereign nations. The abbreviation viz. is derived from the latin word, videlicet, that is: NAMELY - Used to introduce examples, lists or items. I submit that England was not naming individual nations as it listed the States, it was merely defining the area of operations the treaty had effect over.

And again, why didn't England deal with all 13 States by sending diplomatic personnel to each state or set up embassies in each state? The treaty accepted United States representation from the men present, who represented the entire country of the United States.

In my humble opinion, this like taking a single phrase from the Bible out of context with the rest of the book and forming your own new religion. I am of the opinion that Article 1 is taken out of context also.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 
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#8
These sovereign nations agreed to delegate, NOT grant, some of their authority to a confederated government for specific task. The nations involved retained all sovereignty not delegated. The end of the Revolution with Great Britain came after the States joined together. YET, the British Crown did not make peace with a single nation called the United States, but with each State, through their confederated government. Each is acknowledged, by name, to be a nation as free, sovereign, and independent in its own right in Article I of the Paris Peace Treaty of 1783.

Other members here have quoted this which can be found in Jackson's Oxford Journal England, October 4, 1783. And I believe the "viz", as you describe it, names specifically each state for the purpose of noting their individuality.

This is part of the crux of the difference of opinion here. In my view, why indeed would the states want to be jammed into a restricted alignment from which they had no exit? They'd just fought a war to be rid of such an association. This makes no sense whatsoever.
 
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#9
Neil,

As we see in Art. 5, the treaty admits that the US central gov't can only "recommend" that the various independent and sovereign States do certain things. The central gov't had no authority to bind them to any such course of action.

Though speaking of the later Constitutional arrangement, I think Jefferson and Madison answer your questions nicely:

"The extent of our country was so great, and its former division into distinct States so established, that we thought it better to confederate as to foreign affairs only. Every State retained its self-government in domestic matters, as better qualified to direct them to the good and satisfaction of their citizens, than a general government so distant from its remoter citizens and so little familiar with the local peculiarities of the different parts." --Thomas Jefferson to A. Coray, 1823. ME 15:483

Federalist Paper 45, James Madison wrote: "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will for the most part be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people; and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State."

"I believe the States can best govern our home concerns, and the General Government our foreign ones." --Thomas Jefferson to William Johnson, 1823. ME 15:450

"My general plan would be, to make the States one as to everything connected with foreign nations, and several as to everything purely domestic." --Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787. ME 6:227

"Our citizens have wisely formed themselves into one nation as to others and several States as among themselves. To the united nation belong our external and mutual relations; to each State, severally, the care of our persons, our property, our reputation and religious freedom." --Thomas Jefferson: To Rhode Island Assembly, 1801. ME 10:262

"The idea of a national government involves in it, not only an authority over the individual citizens, but an indefinite supremacy over all persons and things, so far as they are objects of lawful government. Among a people consolidated into one nation, this supremacy is completely vested in the national legislature. Among communities united for particular purposes, it is vested partly in the general and partly in the municipal legislatures. In the former case, all local authorities are subordinate to the supreme; and may be controlled, directed, or abolished by it at pleasure. In the latter, the local or municipal authorities form distinct and independent portions of the supremacy, no more subject, within their respective spheres, to the general authority, than the general authority is subject to them, within its own sphere. In this relation, then, the proposed government cannot be deemed a national one; since its jurisdiction extends to certain enumerated objects only, and leaves to the several States a residuary and inviolable sovereignty over all other objects." -- James Madison, Feralist #39

"The States in North America which confederated to establish their independence of the government of Great Britain, of which Virginia was one, became on that acquisition, free and independent States, and as such, authorized to constitute governments, each for itself, in such form as it thought best. They entered into a compact (which is called the Constitution of the United States of America), by which they agreed to unite in a single government as to their relations with each other and with foreign nations, and as to certain other articles particularly specified. They retained at the same time each to itself, the other rights of independent government, comprehending mainly their domestic interests." --Thomas Jefferson: Declaration and Protest of Virginia, 1825. ME 17:442

If we are to be one nation in any respect, it clearly ought to be in respect to other nations. -- James Madsion, Federalist #42

"To the State governments are reserved all legislation and administration in affairs which concern their own citizens only, and to the federal government is given whatever concerns foreigners or the citizens of other States; these functions alone being made federal. The one is the domestic, the other the foreign branch of the same government; neither having control over the other, but within its own department. There are one or two exceptions only to this partition of power." --Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, 1824. ME 16:47

"The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State. The operations of the federal government will be most extensive and important in times of war and danger; those of the State governments, in times of peace and security." -- James Madison; Federalist #45

"I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That "all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people." [X Amendment] To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition." --Thomas Jefferson: National Bank Opinion, 1791. ME 3:146

"The States supposed that by their tenth amendment, they had secured themselves against constructive powers." --Thomas Jefferson to William Johnson, 1823. ME 15:450

Hal
 
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#10
Tommy: The founding fathers did not name the colonies "States" without a reason. They did not call them counties, provinces, territories, or districts when they formed the union. They called them States. As in the phrase "Heads of State"....or "Statesmen."

Tommy, that is a very good point.

Another minor detail that is indicative of the reasoning you point out, and also helps to answer Neil's question, is that the Declaration of Independence was not of declaration of the "United States of America," but of the "thirteen united States of America."

Hal
 
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aphillbilly

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#11
free sovereign and independent states
free
1. Not imprisoned or enslaved; being at liberty.
2. Not controlled by obligation or the will of another

sovereign
Noun: One that exercises supreme, permanent authority, especially in a nation or other governmental unit
adjective: Self-governing; independent: a sovereign state.
2. Having supreme rank or power: a sovereign prince.
3. Paramount; supreme: Her sovereign virtue is compassion.
4a. Of superlative strength or efficacy: a sovereign remedy. b. Unmitigated


and

independent
1. Not governed by a foreign power; self-governing.
2. Free from the influence, guidance, or control of another or others; self-reliant

state
The supreme public power within a sovereign political entity
A body politic, especially one constituting a nation: the states of Eastern Europe.



Nothing out of context. Pure simple and direct. How can one argue with that? Seriously?

As to why no treaty with each individual state. This is not an uncommon practice.



Just curious. The US routinely broke treaties without cause with the indians without blinking an eye. Is a treaty less binding than the Constitution?

YMOS
tommy
 
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#12
I love it when people argue theories. There is no limit to parsing of words and sentences. Theologians arguing over the number of Angels that can dance on the head of a pin had nothing on academics and political theorists arguing the meaning of sovereignty, independent, state etc.
The treaty of Paris like the Articles of Confederation are interesting historical documents but The Civil War was about the Constitution of the United States of America and the relation of state gov'ts to the Federal Gov't.
For all the "learned" arguments over the fine minutiae of words and phrases the Fact of experience in the real world of politics and history, The Federal Gov't over the history of America up to and including 1860 and beyond, Never accepted the idea of a unilateral right to secession by any state. There were several attempts at secession through the early history of the United States, affecting different Presidents and their administrations, most of them Southerners. All attempts, All threats of secession was always rejected by the Federal Gov't, sometimes talking sufficed, sometimes threats was needed, sometimes direct use of military force was used.
In the real world of experience, as opposed to theory, actual secession was always rejected by the Federal Gov't, even the threat of secession was met with the threat of military force.
How did most thinking Southerners know that war would result from any attempt at secession? They looked at the record of historical experience.
 

unionblue

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#13
Nico,

I must disagree with your above summation. The conflict which we discuss here had it's roots in such documentation as The Treaty of Paris.

People on this board presenting historical documentation have presented it from time to time to prove the idea of State's Rights, that in the drafting and reading of said document, others based their theories and then their lives on what they concluded was the document claimed, that the Federal Government was merely an agency of the States.

If 'real world' experience had been applied to the theory of secession, its seems somewhat unconvincing to those who championed secession. If it was so real world, why did the theory continue to abound throughout US history?

Yes, I have my convictions and my research that has led me to them. I would like to hear more on the subject to confirm or disprove those conclusions.

Unionblue
 
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#14
Theory is well and good as long it is realized that it is a theory. Theory has no place in reality except when proven, in which case, it becomes a fact. Until then it is a debating point and/or a subject of experimentation to prove its validity. As long as unilateral secession was only discussed there was no problem, the trouble came when some people convinced themselves that the theory was a fact before it was proven.
Historical experience, should have indicated that the validity of secession, as a right, was less than proven. In fact, even the existence of a "right to secede", outside of Revolution, was another unproven theory and another subject of much debate.
 
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#16
What we have so far in a nutshell:

1) "States" are by definition sovereign entities
2) "free and independent" leaves no room for doubt
3) the Declaration of Independence speaks in terms of "thirteen united States of America," not "the United States of America"
4) the Treaty emphasizes that the US Congress can only "earnestly recommend" that the States take certain action
5) according to Jefferson and Madison, the federal government was to have jurisdiction on matters pertaining to foreign relations and relations between the States, but not over any domestic matters in the various States

Hal
 
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#17
The overriding fact was that the treaty recognized the independence of America. America validated its claim to independence by successfully waging a military and diplomatic war against the gov't of Great Britain.
 
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#18
The American colonies claimed the violation of their rights as Englishman and other rights given to all men by God (or nature, if you were a deist)by the British Gov't was so oppressive and onerous that by right they should be free from that gov't.
That declaration did not make America free, in fact, Great Britain sent armies and fleets to enforce the fact that it did not agree or accept the fact that the colonies were or ought to be free.
Enforced by colonial military forces, and the forces of France, the Treaty of Paris effectively, validated America's claim to be free. All of which has little to do with the Civil war, except as proof that Revolutions must be validated by the sword and not the pen.
 

unionblue

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#19
Friends,

Getting no answer to the above post, I would ask others if they view the word sovereign in the treaty to mean that at the time this treaty was written that this word was meant to mean each state was a sovereign nation or was it used in another context?

Unionblue
 

unionblue

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#20
Friends,

When did the Articles of Confederation take effect? Where does the treaty state that the States had only delegated their power to the central government in the treaty? Why did not all the states sign the treaty?

The United States were formed under the Articles of Confederation which were ratified in 1781. The Treaty of Paris was signed in 1782 and ratified in 1783. Do the Articles of Confederation place restrictions and limitations on the States if they are under those Articles? And by my count the United States is mentioned 16 times (and uses the term 'American' three times) in the treaty and the states only once, clearly making the reference to the states as the area of the United States for the purpose of giving the scope of the area for the treaty to effect, NOT to give sovereign status to the states making up the nation of the United States.

Clearly, the Article mentioning the states seems to have been taken out of context to support the idea of secession. In My Own Humble Opinion.

YMOS,
Unionblue
 



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