January 14, 1784
The Continental Congress Ratified the Treaty of Paris
When did the Revolutionary War officially come to an end? On September 3, 1783, more than a year after the last shots were fired, a peace treaty was drawn up in Paris. Under the terms of the treaty, the United States was granted territory as far west as the Mississippi River.
After the Treaty of Paris was signed, it was sent to the Continental Congress. The United States had six months to ratify (approve) the document and return it to England. With the journey requiring approximately two months, the treaty needed to be on its way back to England by January. The valuable document almost did not arrive in time.
A ratifying convention was scheduled at the Maryland State House in November, but many of the delegates did not arrive right away. By January 12, only seven of the 13 states had sent their representatives. Time was running short; where were the other delegates?
Operating under the weak Articles of Confederation, the Continental Congress lacked the power to enforce attendance at the convention. On January 13, the convention needed one more delegate. Finally, South Carolina Representative Richard Beresford, who was ill, traveled to Maryland. As soon as he arrived, the vote was taken, and on January 14, 1784, the treaty was ratified. The United States was officially an independent nation.