British-American Diplomacy
Treaty of Paris - Hunter Miller's Notes


There are two originals of this treaty in the Department of State file; in trifles, such as punctuation, they are not literally identical; the provisions of the one reproduced are in the handwriting of William Temple Franklin. With each original, following the signatures, are copies of the full powers of David Hartley, dated May 14, 1783, and of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Henry Laurens, and Thomas Jefferson, dated June 15, 1781; these are certified "to be authentic" by George Hammond, Secretary to the British Commission, and by William Temple Franklin, Secretary to the American Commission. The certificate of the example from which the text here printed is taken is undated; the other is dated at Paris September 3, 1783.

The treaty was signed at Paris for the reason that David Hartley, the representative of Great Britain, refused to go to Versailles for the purpose (Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, VI, 674, 740).

No facsimile of the United States instrument of ratification is available; the original instrument has not been found in the British archives; it is copied in 135 C. C. Papers, I; also in Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, VI, 756. Certain objections, which Franklin called "trivial and absurd," were made to its form (see Diplomatic Correspondence, 1783-1789, I, 380-84) but were not pressed. The British instrument of ratification is copied in Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, VI, 757-58, note. The original is in the treaty file.

Neither in the British archives nor in those of the Department of State has been found any protocol or other similar record of the exchange of ratifications. The date is reported in the letter of Franklin of May 12, 1784 (Diplomatic Correspondence, 1783-1789, I, 379-80). The treaty was laid before Congress on December 13, 1783. As to the non-attendance of six States, see proceedings of December 23, 1783 (Journals, XXV, 836). The period allowed by Article 10 of the treaty for the exchange of ratifications was six months from the date of signature; no objection was made by Great Britain to the necessary prolongation of the term (Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, VI, 789-90; other letters on the point, Thomson to the American Commissioners January 5, 1784, Hartley to Carmarthen March 22, 1784, Carmarthen to Hartley March 25, 1784, are copied in Bancroft's Transcripts, Hartley's Negotiations, II, 167-75, NYPL).

The proclamation is copied in Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, VI, 755.

The original proclamation is in the Library of Congress. A facsimile thereof is in the Department of State file. It is a folio broadside, bearing the imprint, "Annapolis: Printed by John Dunlap, Printer for the United States in Congress assembled." The seal is affixed at the upper left corner; just below is the signature of Thomas Mifflin; and about halfway down, in the margin, is the signature of Charles Thomson, Secretary.


The form of the treaty was the subject of some correspondence between Fox, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and Hartley. Copies of the letters are in Bancroft's Transcripts, Hartley's Negotiations, II, 53, 57, NYPL On August 21, 1783, Fox wrote to Hartley:

One thing only I must remind you of in point of form. When a treaty is signed between two Crowned Heads in order to prevent disputes about precedency, the name of the one stands first in one instrument and that of the other in the other but when the Treaty is between a crowned Head and a Republic, the name of the Monarch is mentioned first in each instrument. I believe if you will inquire upon this subject among the Corps Diplomatique, you will find this to have been the constant practice.

Hartley replied as follows under date of September 1:

The treaties are drawn out for signature as you have expressed it viz: giving precedence to the Crowned Head. The American Ministers never had a thought of disputing the priority or equality of rank & therefore I have had no occasion to mention the subject.
Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America.
Edited by Hunter Miller
Volume 2
Documents 1-40 : 1776-1818
Washington : Government Printing Office, 1931.
127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511.