This Day in History: January 14

On this day in 1784, the Continental Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris at the Maryland State House in Annapolis. The document, negotiated in part by future President John Adams, included terms for ending the Revolutionary War and established the United States as a sovereign nation.

The treaty set territorial boundaries in North America formerly held by the British, outlined America’s fishing rights off the coast of Canada, and put an end to reprisals against British loyalists. Two other future presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, were among the delegates who ratified the document on January 14, 1874.

Thomas Jefferson had planned to travel to Paris to join Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay to begin talks with the British in 1782. However, after a delay in his travel plans, Jefferson got word that a cessation of hostilities had been announced by King George III the prior December. Jefferson arrived in Paris in late February after the treaty had already been negotiated.

Adams’ ample experience and diplomatic skills prompted Congress to authorize him to act as the United States’ representative in negotiating treaty terms with the British.

Following his contributions toward ending the Revolutionary War and drafting the Declaration of Independence, Adams succeeded George Washington as the second president of the United States in 1797. He would serve one term before being defeated by his vice president, Thomas Jefferson, in the election of 1800.

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