Study Guide

Treaty of Paris Main Idea

By Joint effort of British-American diplomacy

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  • Main Idea

    Think of the Treaty of Paris as saying, in an exhausted-principal type way: "Hey, guys, fights over. Let's all just be buddies."

    This doc was mostly about determining whether or not the United States was a legal country. And—not exactly a spoiler—the Treaty of Paris decided that it was. Time to break out the strawberry shortcake and sparklers!

    The rest of the document goes through precisely what this means, and what should happen after the fallout of the Revolutionary War. It's a standard treaty...except for the part where a colony got freedom from a European power. That was (pun intended) revolutionary.

    Questions About Main Idea

    1. The treaty is generally considered to be extremely generous to the United States. Why do you think this was? Where could Britain have pushed for different terms?
    2. How would the terms of the treaty have differed if the Revolution occurred a hundred years later? Two hundred?
    3. How would the terms have differed had the United States sent different Founding Fathers? Would Jefferson, Madison, or Washington have helped or hurt the cause?
    4. At the time, the Revolution was considered more of a new arena in the ongoing feuds of Europe. How did the treaty fit into that mode of thought? Britain was the loser here, but who came out ahead?

    Chew on This

    The Treaty of Paris weakened the British crown and was a product of George III's diminished capacity as a monarch.

    Though in the short term the Treaty of Paris was a setback, in the long term, it created for the staunchest ally the British could have wanted.

  • Brief Summary

    The Set-Up

    Think of a treaty like an essay. It's basically an argument for telling two countries, which had been shooting at each other, to stop shooting. Just stop it with the gun stuff.

    The intro to the Treaty of Paris establishes who's talking (the King of England and this newfangled United States thing that'll never catch on) and their sincere desire to be at peace.

    The Text

    In order to stop shooting, the differences between the two countries have to be resolved. They have to kiss and make up.

    The most important "difference" in this case was that the United States wanted to be the United States and Britain wanted the United States to be Britain Lite.

    But this treaty proved it: the United States was its own boss now.

    The rest of the treaty goes after individual points. It does some important establishment of borders, travel rights, and guidelines on who gets to fish where. It sounds horribly dull now (wow: a treaty that states who gets to keep the lobsters in Maine vs. Prince Edward Island!), but in the late 18th century fisheries were a big deal. The U.S. of A. was basically a strip of land along a coastline—the ownership of crab pots for crab cakes was vital.

    Lastly, King George's people actually wanted to do something nice for the folks who never gave up hope. The treaty specifically includes sections to keep the Loyalists from being unduly punished after the Revolution.


    The United States is officially a thing now.

  • Questions

    1. How did the Treaty of Paris change world history? Not just the creation of the United States, but the knowledge that independence from Europe was even possible?
    2. What terms would you have argued for against Britain? How about against the United States?
    3. Many Native American tribes fought on each side, but they aren't mentioned at all in the treaty. What should they have gotten? Why were they ignored? What were the ramifications of ignoring them?
    4. Which provisions of the treaty remain important today? Which are less important? Should the treaty be updated?
    5. How did the amicable treaty help British-American relations? Was it wiped away in the War of 1812, or did the favorable treatment there (in the Treaty of Ghent) stem from this original treaty?
    6. Why were the British so generous to the Americans? Did they see the potential of friendship? Were the British bad negotiators? Were the Americans good negotiators? Was this an attempt to manage the damage done against France?
    7. How was France involved in the Treaty? In the war? France saw the Revolution as a chance to hurt Britain, but by the end had they changed somewhat?

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