The Paris Peace Treaty of 1783

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Messages
10,247
The listing of the States merely describes, precisely, what and where the United States of America is located; making sure the same USA could not later make any further claims of other British possessions in the New Word, especially Canada.
No Colony or state sought or wanted to free and independent sovereignty for themselves, individually, from either Great Britain or the later nat'l gov'ts of their own. They wanted to be free and independent to chose their own locally chosen representatives to govern themselves, internally. They readily acknowledged Britain's right to govern the external and intercolonial affairs of the colonies. As they readily acceded those same powers to their national gov't.
Whatever the 'unexpressed' powers retained by the states, they could not conflict with the 'expressed' powers in the Constitution itself.
 

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Freddy

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Dec 19, 2006
Messages
3,323
Location
Worcester, MA
The listing of the States merely describes, precisely, what and where the United States of America is located; making sure the same USA could not later make any further claims of other British possessions in the New Word, especially Canada.
No Colony or state sought or wanted to free and independent sovereignty for themselves, individually, from either Great Britain or the later nat'l gov'ts of their own. They wanted to be free and independent to chose their own locally chosen representatives to govern themselves, internally. They readily acknowledged Britain's right to govern the external and intercolonial affairs of the colonies. As they readily acceded those same powers to their national gov't.
Whatever the 'unexpressed' powers retained by the states, they could not conflict with the 'expressed' powers in the Constitution itself.
Well said!
 
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Messages
7,653
Location
South Carolina
UnionBlue directed me to this thread on this topic (great memory, UB), so I'll repost the relevant information from our discussion. And I"ve learned a new word: equipollent, meaning "a thing that has equal or equivalent power, effect, or significance".

Even if we leave the Treaty of Paris out, something I'm not prepared to do, the DOI and the AOC make it clear that 13 tiny new nations formed a confederation, not a consolidated nation. What else does "free, sovereign and independent" mean except that each state acknowledged no higher authority?

Thus each colony became a free and sovereign State. This is the character which they claim in the very terms of the declaration of independence; in this character they formed the colonial government, and in this character that government always regarded them. Indeed, even in the earlier treaties with foreign powers, the distinct sovereignty of the States is carefully recognized. Thus, the treaty of alliance with France, in 1778, is made between “ the most Christian king and the United States of North America to wit: New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut,” enumerating them all by name. The same form is observed in the treaty of amity and commerce with the States General of the United Netherlands, in 1782, and in the treaty with Sweden, in 1783. In the convention with the Netherlands, in 1782, concerning recaptured vessels, the names of the States are not recited, but the United States of America” is the style adopted ; and so also in some others.

This circumstance shows that the two forms of expression were considered equipollent ; and that foreign nations, in treating with the revolutionary government, considered that they treated with distinct sovereignties, through their common agent, and not with a new nation, composed of all those sovereign countries together. It is true, they treated with them jointly, and not severally ; they considered them all bound to the observance of their stipulations, and they believed that the common authority, which was established between and among them, was sufficient to secure that object. The provisional articles with Great Britain, in 1782, by which our independence was acknowledged, proceed upon the same idea. The first article declares, that “His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, to wit, New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free, sovereign and independent States ; that he treats with them as such, ” &c. Thus the very act, by which their former sovereign releases them from their allegiance to him, confirms to each one by name the sovereignty within its own limits, and acknowledges it to be a “ free, sovereign, and independent State ;” united, indeed, with all the others, but not as forming with them any new and separate nation. The language employed is not suited to convey any other idea and if it had been in the contemplation of the parties, that the States had merged themselves into a single nation, something like the following formula would naturally have suggested itself as proper. His Britanic Majesty acknowledges that New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, former colonies of Great Britain, and now united together as one people, are a free, sovereign and independent state,” &c. The difference between the two forms of expression, and the strict adaptation of each to the state of things which it contemplates, will be apparent to every reader. - A Brief Inquiry into the True Nature and Character of our Federal Government by Abel Upshur, pp 44 and 45​
 

atlantis

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
Messages
1,289
The treaty was null and void as the king had no authority to grant independence without the consent of parliament.
 

trice

Lt. Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Messages
11,327
What was the vote count in parliament and was proper procedure followed?
I could not tell you, myself, but ratified copies of the Treaty were exchanged on by the two sides in Paris on May 12, 1784 (which is when the treaty went into effect).

Do you know what the vote count was and would you share your information with us?
 
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
22
As others have pointed out, all of the states did expressly delegate many of the powers, jurisdictions, and rights of sovereignity and independence to the government of the United States of America when they signed the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. Once they had done so, they no longer had them. (There are quibbles about exactly what that implied and meant we can debate forever from a Political Science standpoint; one of my degrees is in that field and I'll gladly spend some time chewing them to death if you want to start a thread on that.)

What this all means, once you boil it down, is that the exact definition of "sovereignity" for a state that is a part of this country, the United States of America, is not clearly defined. Some aspects of sovereignity and independence have clearly been given away by the states. Some have been retained. In general, the aspects that have been surrendered are reasonably clear. In general, the aspects that are retained are not clear.

What is completely unclear is whether or not the legal "right of secession" claimed by the Southern states in 1860 ever existed prior to that time. Even if it did exist in some form, it is highly unlikely that the unilateral exercise of such a "right", without consent or agreement from the other states, without due process under the law, would have been found to exist. If it did not exist, it could not be retained by the states.

In any case, in US law all rights for one party are limited by the rights of other parties. No state could exercise such a "right of secession" by causing damage and injury to the other states and be considered to be acting within the confines of the law.

Tim

Hey, I am just reading this stuff for I have nothing else to do, but it seems to me...

It takes two people to make a contract. When either party is uncomfortable with the language of the contract, they can refuse to sign until that language is removed. Once removed it is no longer part of the contract. I am sure that you know the word "Perpetual" was removed and replaced with "a more perfect" union. Two things are implied here. One the word "Perpetual" was not part of the new contract and two, "a more perfect Union" implies that the word "Perpetual" in the old contract was less perfect. The states could go back to their original condition if, in their opinion, their welfare was threatened. Why else would those states against the Articles have signed it.
 

trice

Lt. Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Messages
11,327
Hey, I am just reading this stuff for I have nothing else to do, but it seems to me...

It takes two people to make a contract. When either party is uncomfortable with the language of the contract, they can refuse to sign until that language is removed. Once removed it is no longer part of the contract. I am sure that you know the word "Perpetual" was removed and replaced with "a more perfect" union. Two things are implied here. One the word "Perpetual" was not part of the new contract and two, "a more perfect Union" implies that the word "Perpetual" in the old contract was less perfect. The states could go back to their original condition if, in their opinion, their welfare was threatened. Why else would those states against the Articles have signed it.
Or they were just forming a more perfect version of an already existing perpetual Union. The United States of America existed before the Constitution. It does not vanish and reform when the Constitution is adopted.
 

WJC

Brigadier General
Moderator
Thread Medic
Joined
Aug 16, 2015
Messages
11,017
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?
Rodney can rest easy: they didn't.
The United States and British representatives signed at least three originals, two of which are in the holdings of the National Archives. On one of the signed originals the signatures and wax seals are arranged horizontally; on the other they are arranged vertically. In addition, handwritten certified copies were made for the use of Congress. Some online transcriptions of the treaty omit Delaware from the list of former colonies, but the original text does list Delaware.​
<https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=6>
 
Last edited:

WJC

Brigadier General
Moderator
Thread Medic
Joined
Aug 16, 2015
Messages
11,017
Friends, When did the Articles of Confederation take effect?
As a first order of business, the new United States established a committee on July 12, 1776 to draw up a constitution. The Second Continental Congress approved the finished document, the Articles of Confederation, on November 15, 1777 and sent to the thirteen States for ratification. It was unanimously ratified and went into effect March 1, 1781.
The complete name of the Articles of Confederation is "Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts-bay Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia."<http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/artconf.asp>
 
Joined
Aug 15, 2016
Messages
282
Location
Whereve I Am
The treaty was null and void as the king had no authority to grant independence without the consent of parliament.
What was the vote count in parliament and was proper procedure followed?
Parliament than had, and I believe still has no role, in the ratification of treaties. The government of the day approved of sending representatives to Paris and made no objections that I am aware of the King ratifying the treaty. While the Portland government did fall shortly after the treaty was signed, the succeeding Pitt government made no noise about resuming the war and eventually signed the Jay Treaty.

Britain's failure to fully enforce the treaty did not make it null in British law.
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Messages
10,247
Even if we leave the Treaty of Paris out, something I'm not prepared to do, the DOI and the AOC make it clear that 13 tiny new nations formed a confederation, not a consolidated nation. What else does "free, sovereign and independent" mean except that each state acknowledged no higher authority? adopted ; and so also in some others.


The states gov'ts were free and sovereign within their own borders(except those they relinquished to the their national gov't, which was free and sovereign(from state control) as noted in the AoC and Constitution.
 

CW Buff

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 22, 2014
Messages
1,501
Location
Connecticut
The confusion regarding Delaware, whatever the final disposition, no doubt followed from the fact that Delaware had not been, officially, a separate British colony. It had been part of the Pennsylvania colony. William Penn acquired DE from Prince James, Duke of York, in 1682. In 1701 Delaware (the three lower counties of PA) was given a separate legislature, but the two remained under one governor. In the Articles of Association, DE was identified as "the three lower counties of New Castle, Kent, and Sussex, on [the] Delaware." Complete and final separation was made at the same time that independence was declared from Britain.

On the main issue, before the Constitution, the states were completely independent (legally) and sovereign nation-states allied in a political/military union/confederation, IMHO. That was the legal structure the Founders/Continental Congress chose 1776-1777. BUT, this has no bearing on unilateral secession under the Constitution or the ACW because the people of the states chose a completely new legal structure 1787-1790, one in which the Union had it's own sovereignty, which belongs to the people of the US and the states can not touch. Under the Articles, the states stood in relation to the Confederation much as the people stand in relation to the U.S. government, in that the states/people delegated powers but retained all of their sovereignty.

And the Union remains as perpetual as it was during the Confederation. Actually, even more so, or at least more strictly so. The Framers described the Constitution as a consolidation of the Union. A perpetual union that is consolidated remains perpetual (consolidation = stronger bonds, not weaker ones). The word was dropped because it was no longer needed. As explained by Gouveneur Morris during the Convention, the new system would have "a compleat and compulsive operation". That's because it would be based on a law (the Constitution), not a treaty (the Articles). Another characteristic of laws are that they can only be repealed or altered by the authority that enacted them. If you want perpetuity from a treaty, you have to specify that. Laws are inherently perpetual, you don't need to specify perpetuity. In fact, in the rare cases where a law is specifically not intended to be perpetual, that must be specified via an expiration date (e.g. Alien Friends Act, Sedition Act). The perpetuity of this particular law was further guaranteed by the Supremacy Clause. And they did leave a clear indication of perpetuity when they declared in the Preamble that what they were doing was not only for themselves, but also for their posterity. Posterity is defined as all future generations. They never changed their minds about a perpetual union. They just realized that perpetual union based on law was "more perfect" than perpetual union based on a promise.

"In all our deliberations on this subject we kept steadily in our view, that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our Union, in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, safety, perhaps our national existence." — Constitutional Convention, official letter, September 17, 1787

Definition of posterity
  1. 1 : the offspring of on progenitor to the furthest generation
  2. 2 : all future generations
 

Carronade

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Messages
4,351
Location
Pennsylvania
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?
William Penn's grant which became Pennsylvania included the lower three counties which now form Delaware. From 1704 Delaware had its own assembly and local government but still fell under the royal governor of Pennsylvania. Delaware's representatives signed the Declaration of Independence as one of thirteen states, but the treaty which recognized that independence only lists twelve!
 

Similar threads




(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Top