Treaty of Paris is signed, ending the American Revolutionary War
Lesson 3: Ending the War, 1783
During the Revolutionary War there were several attempts made to end the fighting. The first offer of peace, which came from the Continental Congress in the summer of 1775, made no mention of independence, but asserted the loyalty of the king's American subjects. It was George III's rejection of this so-called "Olive Branch petition" that led to the Declaration of Independence, after which time Congress refused to consider any peace agreement that did not include full independence for the United States. But as in all wars, the course of peace negotiations was ultimately determined by what happened on the battlefield. Therefore, it was not until after the victory at Yorktown that Britain finally proved willing to agree to grant American independence.
In this lesson students will consider the various peace attempts made by both sides during the Revolutionary War. By reading a series of documents and comparing them with what was happening militarily at the time, students will gain an understanding of how peace came when it did, and why it took the form that it did.
Describe the American peace feelers of 1775, and why the British rejected them.
Describe the British peace offers of 1776 and 1778, and why the Americans rejected them.
Explain why Britain was willing to grant American independence by 1782.
Articulate the main provisions of the 1783 Treaty of Paris.
How successful were the Americans in obtaining their goals in the Revolutionary War?
Voices of the American Revolution
In the years preceding the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, many American colonists expressed opposition to Great Britain's policies toward the colonies, but few thought seriously about establishing an independent nation until late in the imperial crisis. Throughout the years of controversy beginning in the 1760s, Americans expressed a variety of opinions about the legitimacy of open acts of resistance and rebellion, which intensified as armed resistance began in April 1775. On both sides of the issue, perspectives and motivations were diverse. Among those who favored resistance, for example, not all would go so far as to advocate full-scale rebellion against Great Britain or national independence for the United States. The debate, moreover, was not a static one, and its terms shifted over time; by 1776 many colonists found themselves advocating positions undreamed of a decade earlier.
In this lesson, students are taught how to make informed analyses of primary documents illustrating the diversity of religious, political, social, and economic motives behind competing perspectives on questions of independence and rebellion. Making use of a variety of primary texts, the activities below help students to "hear" some of the colonial voices that, in the course of time and under the pressure of novel ideas and events, contributed to the American Revolution.
Critique varying reasons for why individuals chose to rebel or remain loyal.
Analyze various documents that are rebellious or loyalist in nature.
In the years leading up to the American Revolution, what were some of the attitudes expressed towards rebellion and what were the motives and allegiances behind these diverse viewpoints?