Proclaiming Peace, January 14, 1784:
Ratification of the Treaty of Paris

On January 14, 1784, the Treaty of Paris was ratified by the Congress of the United States, while they met in the Senate Chamber of the Maryland State House. The Treaty formally ended the Revolutionary War and established the United States as a free and independent nation

The Treaty had been signed by delegates from the Unites States and Great Britain, as well as France and Spain, in Paris on September 3, 1783. Congress' assent was required for the Treaty to take effect, and delegates were called to convene at Annapolis, then serving as the nation's capital, in November, 1783. The Treaty stipulated that Congress approve and return the document to England within six months of being signed. However, representatives from nine of the thirteen states were required to be present in order for Congress to proceed, and it was nearly six weeks until enough members assembled to hold a vote. Mindful of the nearly two months required to cross the Atlantic, Congress grew concerned that a sufficient number of delegates would not arrive in time, and in early January, 1784, began to consider voting on ratification with the delegates already present.

However, upon the arrival of Richard Beresford of South Carolina in Annapolis just a few days later, a quorum was reached, and Congress voted unanimously to ratify the Treaty. Congress then ordered "That a proclamation be immediately issued, notifying.the states of the union" that the Treaty had been signed.

John Dunlap, Congress' official printer, printed the broadside, which was "to notify. all the good citizens of these United States" that the Treaty had been ratified, and that American independence was assured. The proclamation was also to serve as official notice of the Treaty, a task of particular importance in an era when communication was limited. Of the thirteen copies Dunlap printed-one for each state-only a handful are known to survive today. This copy, held at the Maryland State Archives, bears the embossed seal of Congress and the signatures of Thomas Mifflin, president of Congress, and Charles Thompson, secretary. Several others are in the collections of the Library of Congress. Another copy in private hands sold at auction for over $300,000 in December, 2007

Congress also directed that each state inform its people that the Treaty had been ratified, and that peace was at hand. Thus, four days later, Governor William Paca gave a proclamation informing the people of Maryland that the Treaty had been ratified. Paca asked that "all the good citizens of this state...observe, and carry into effect" the Treaty's requirements-to properly live as citizens of the new republic.

Related Links

National Archives and Records Administration
Treaty of Paris

Maryland State Archives Special Collections (Maryland Gazette Collection) MSA SC 2731
Special edition of the Maryland Gazette announcing the ratification of the treaty, 16 January 1784

Maryland State Archives Special Collections (Maryland Gazette Collection) MSA SC 2731
Gov. Paca's proclamation of the treaty, printed in the Maryland Gazette, 22 January 1784

Library of Congress: A Century of Lawmaking for the New Nation
Journal of the Continental Congress, 14 January 1784

Library of Congress: Documents from the Continental Congress
Proclamation printed by Dunlap, announcing ratification of the Treaty