History for the Rest of Us

The Treaty of Paris

The Treaty of Paris brought an end to the American Revolutionary War. Signed September 3, 1783, the United States was represented by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay while David Hartley, a member of the British Parliament represented King George III. The document was signed in Paris at the Hotel d’York (presently 56 Rue Jacob). Great Britian also signed separate agreements with France, Spain, and the Netherlands on the same day. The document consists of Ten Articles, summarized below: Article 1: Acknowledgment that the United States are free sovereign and independent states, and that the British Crown and her heirs relinquish claims to govern, to property, and to territorial rights Article 2: Establishment of the boundaries between the United States and British North America Article 3: Grant of fishing rights, in the Grand Banks (off the coast of Newfoundland) and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, to United States fishermen Article 4: Recognition that lawfully contracted debts will be paid to creditors on either side Article 5: Congress of the Confederation will ‘earnestly recommend’ that state legislatures recognize and provide restitution for confiscated lands belonging to Loyalists Article 6: United States will prevent future confiscations of Loyalist properties Article 7: Prisoners of war and property left by the British Army in the United States will be released (including slaves) unmolested Article 8: The United States and Great Britain will both have perpetual access to the Mississippi River Article 9: Territories captured by Americans subsequent to treaty will be returned without compensation Article 10: Ratification of the treaty is to occur within six months from the signing by the contracting parties Full Text of the Treaty of Paris: The Definitive Treaty of Peace 1783 In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity. It having pleased the Divine Providence to dispose the hearts of the most serene and most potent Prince George the Third, by the grace of God, king of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, duke of Brunswick and Lunebourg, arch-treasurer and prince elector of the Holy Roman Empire etc., and of the United States of America, to forget all past misunderstandings and differences that have unhappily interrupted...

The Mayflower Compact

The Mayflower Compact

Mar 17, 2014

The Mayflower Compact was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony. It was signed on November 11, 1620 (based on the Julian calendar used by the colonists – November 21 based on the Gregorian calendar) by 41 of the 101 passengers on board the ship. It was written by Separatists who were fleeing religious persecution by King James of England. When storms forced the ship to anchor at the hook of Cape Cod instead of the original destination of the Colony of Virginia, some passengers proclaimed that they ‘would use their own liberty; for none had power to command them…’ Many other colonists felt that a government should be established and the Mayflower Compact was a contract in which settlers agreed to follow rules and regulations with the ultimate goal of order and survival. The original has been lost, but three 17th century versions of the document exist. Two are written by William Bradford. His handwritten manuscript is kept in a vault at the State Library of Massachusetts. The text as it appears in Bradford’s writing is as follows: In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereigne Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britaine, France and Ireland king, defender of the faith, etc. having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honour of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northerne parts of Virginia, doe by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civill body politick, for our better ordering and preservation, and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enacte, constitute, and frame such just and equall laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meete and convenient for the generall good of the Colonie unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape-Codd the 11. of November, in the year of the raigne of our sovereigne lord, King James, of England,...

George Washington’s Farewell Address

George Washington’s Farewell Address

Sep 19, 2012

FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS: 1 The period for a new election of a citizen, to administer the executive government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed designating the person, who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprize you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made. 2 I beg you at the same time to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both. 3 The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me, have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty, and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped, that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives, which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement, from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence impelled me to abandon the idea. 4 I rejoice, that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty, or propriety; and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained...