There are two Treaties of Paris in Canadian history — the treaty of 1763 by which France ceded Canada to Britain and the treaty of 1783 which ended the American Revolutionary War. The second treaty is also known as the Peace of Versailles, but as a treaty of that name ended World War I, it certainly does not clear up the confusion!
The treaty of 1783 was signed on September 3. When the time came for the final negotiations, Britain was in a strong position (See May 8 post: Americans Plan to Acquire Canada!) and was determined to keep Canada. By the treaty, Britain held the Maritimes, the part of old Canada south of the St. Lawrence, the region north of the St. Lawrence above Montreal, and the Great Lakes. It was surprising that Benjamin Franklin, chief negotiator for the States, did not claim the north-west territory of the Hudson’s Bay Company. He may have felt that it was worthless, but his oversight paved the way for Canada’s expansion to the Pacific.
One of the tragedies of the treaty, from Canada’s point of view, was Britain’s failure to obtain better terms for the United Empire Loyalists. Many Americans felt bitterly about the Loyalists. Governor Clinton of New York said that he would rather roast in hell than show mercy to Loyalists after they had destroyed some property while under British protection in New York City. The only concession Britain gained for the Loyalists was a promise by Benjamin Franklin that he would ask the various States to be liberal to them. It was a worthless promise.
Franklin was a wily trader. When he was trying to persuade Britain to cede Canada to the States, he said he still loved “dear old England.” Now that they were going separate ways, they should trade together in peace and harmony. In order not to risk a future conflict it would be better if the Maritimes and Canada were part of American territory! He nearly got away with it!
To read some more about the Treaty of Paris, I would suggest going to the Cardus to read Canada and America: Fuzzy Origins or Founding Myth?, and then the University of Ottawa to read The Treaty of Versailles (1783) and the Redrawing of the Canada-US Border, and then History.com to read Treaty of Paris signed. If you are still looking for more, I suggest InfoPlease, and then visit The Free Dictionary and then finally the United States Department Of State Office of the Historian.
- Quiet Until Napoleon (tkmorin.wordpress.com)