Study Guide

Treaty of Paris Timeline

By Joint effort of British-American diplomacy

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April 19, 1775

Fighting breaks out at Lexington and Concord

The official beginning of the American Revolution: fighting breaks out between patriots (yay!) and redcoats (boo!). 

July 4, 1776

Declaration of Independence signed

You probably know this date pretty well. The Founding Fathers just really wanted to give everyone an excuse to eat hot dogs and watch fireworks. 

February, 1778

French officially ally themselves with the United States

After the capture of the British army at Saratoga, the French think that maybe the U.S. has what it takes and officially becomes an ally. (They'd been secretly supplying arms and materiel since 1775 though, including 90% of patriot gunpowder.) 

April, 1779

Spain joins the war

Looking for revenge for the Seven Years War, Spain—who had already been providing aid to the patriots—entered the war on the side of the United States. 

Well, really they entered the war against Britain. Everyone kind of hated Britain at the time.

December, 1780

Dutch Republic declares war on Great Britain

Yup: that makes three European power mixing it up with Britain. The American Revolution was, at the time, a sideshow to these European wars. The U.S. was considered a convenient pawn to use to weaken Britain's position in the world. 

And it worked—maybe too well.

October 19, 1781

Battle of Yorktown

This is the decisive victory of the Revolution. A joint force of American and French forces beat Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia. 

April, 1782

Peace negotiations begin

American diplomats Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Henry Laurens, and future president John Adams meet British diplomats David Hartley and Richard Oswald to discuss terms. 

The French were looking for peace, but Spain would keep it up until they got Gibraltar, and the Dutch showed no signs of stopping. This put the U.S. in a great position to negotiate, with Britain facing a ton o' enemies.

November 30, 1782

Preliminary Articles of Peace signed

The first semi-treaty gets some ink on it, reaffirming everyone's desire to knock it off with the fighting. The Preliminary Articles are something of a rough draft for the eventual Treaty of Paris. 

September 3, 1783

Treaty of Paris signed

All we are saying is give peace a chance

January 14, 1784

Treaty of Paris ratified

Congress ratified the treaty, making it officially legal. 

April 9, 1784

Treaty of Paris ratified...again

This time by the British. Both sides had to ratify it to make it legal. (Remember when we told you this process was slooooow?) 


French Revolution

Inspired by the American Revolution (and clueless nobles who wore ridiculous wigs), this was ten years of chaos. The French expected the U.S. to aid them since they were doing a similar revolution-type thing. 

The U.S. did not. That was kind of terrible—but then, so was the French Revolution.


Haitian Revolution

Also inspired by the American Revolution (not to mention horrible conditions), enslaved Black people in the French colony of Saint Domingue fight for their freedom. 

After thirteen years they get it, becoming the second New World power in history to get their independence, and setting up a government that exists to this day.

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