On January 14, 1784, the Continental Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris, putting an end to the war of independence.
In the document, known as the Second Treaty of Paris because the Treaty of Paris was also the name of the agreement that ended the Seven Years’ War in 1763, Britain officially agreed to recognize the independence of its 13 former colonies as the new United States of America.
In addition, the treaty established the boundaries between the United States and what remained of British North America. American fishermen were granted the right to fish on the Grand Banks, off Newfoundland and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The two sides agreed to ensure payment to the creditors of the other country of debts incurred during the war and to release all prisoners of war. The United States has promised to return land confiscated during the war to its British owners, to stop any further confiscation of British property and to honor property left by the British military on American shores, including Negroes or the slaves. Both countries have assumed perpetual rights to access the Mississippi River.
Despite the agreement, many of these issues remained points of contention between the two nations in the post-war years. The British did not abandon their western forts as promised, and attempts by British merchants to collect American debts failed as American merchants were unable to collect their customers, many of whom were struggling farmers.
In Massachusetts, where in 1786 the courts were littered with foreclosure proceedings, farmers rose up in a violent protest known as the Shay’s Rebellion, which tested the ability of the New United States to uphold the law and the order within its borders and provoked a serious review of the Confederation Articles.