Ratification Day marks the day in 1784 when the Continental Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris, the peace agreement with Britain. The United States officially became an independent country. Thomas Jefferson, chairman of the ratification committee, went through difficult circumstances to get the necessary signatures on the ratification. He needed approvals from nine of the thirteen colonies. However, that winter was extremely brutal, and many delegates struggled to get to Maryland to sign the document. Finally, on January 14th two more delegates arrived, and the minimum nine signatures made the document a real treaty. Three copies of the document were sent on three different ships back to England. Even the journeys to the ships were challenging, and the ocean voyages were unusually difficult. Children can read about the document at: Ratification Day.
French and Indian War officially ended in 1763. The French and the British signed the Treaty of Paris. The war meant that the British greatly expanded their territory in North America. However, the war was a tremendous financial burden to Great Britain. That financial burden was passed on to the American colonists in the form of various taxes. The French and Indian War eventually led to the Revolutionary War. Did you know George Washington was an officer on the British side? Children could read Struggle for a Continent: The French and Indian Wars 1689-1763 by Betsy Maestro and Giulio Maestro.
Detroit was founded in 1701. Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac arrived at the site of present-day Detroit. Fort Pontchartrain du Detroit was the area’s first construction. The French built the fort originally to keep British settlers from moving west. After the French and Indian War, the fort was turned over to the British. During the Revolutionary War, the fort was too far west to see much action. The British did not relinquish control of Fort Detroit until 1796, thirteen years after the Treaty of Paris. A conflagration hit the Detroit area in 1805, and experts believe no part of the original fort still stands.
Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783. Great Britain and the United States signed the treaty, formally ending the Revolutionary War and recognizing the United States as an independent country. The negotiators for the United States were John Jay, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Laurens, and William Temple. Benjamin West’s painting Treaty of Paris (shown here) displays the five American negotiators. The painting was never completed because the British refused to be included. At least one copy of the treaty is housed in the National Archives. Children can read a transcript of the treaty at: Treaty of Paris.
Yorktown Day marks the surrender of General Lord Cornwallis and his troops to George Washington in 1781. This surrender virtually ended the Revolutionary War. No other major battles occurred after this date, and the official peace agreement, the Treaty of Paris, was signed September 3, 1783. Children can learn more at: Yorktown Day.