The Preliminary Articles of Peace document was a very important primary draft of the Treaty of Paris, which formally ended the American Revolutionary War. The Articles of Peace provided American independence from the British and established geographical boundaries for the new nation. The Articles of Peace document was ratified by the Continental Congress on April 15, 1783, and the war was declared formally over, with the ratification of the Treaty of Paris.
The Battle of Yorktown
In the midst of the American Revolutionary War, the Battle of Yorktown was an American battle victory as well as the precursor of peace with Great Britain. The American forces who were led by George Washington, and the French ally forces commanded by Marshal comte de Rochambeau, defeated Lord Cornwallis’ British forces, both in strategy and force.
The Americans and French left Williamsburg, arriving in Yorktown on September 28, 1781. Lord Cornwallis had incorrectly anticipated the American forces to sail from New York. When the Americans and French were already there, causing the British to be blind-sided with the surprise attack on British forces. Because Lord Cornwallis had miscalculated American strategy, the British were forced to surrender on October 19, 1781, due to inadequate artillery and food.
Peace Negotiations to Follow
Because of the outcome of the Battle of Yorktown, there was diminished British political support for the war. Rather than retaliating, Britain opted to discuss peace with the Americans. Initially, Great Britain wanted to make peace negotiations with each American colony individually. Because the States wanted to be represented as America, this first proposal was rejected by the American Peace Commissioners who were Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and John Adams.
When America suspected that Britain was negotiating peace with their ally France, the American Peace Commissioners let the British know that they were willing to compromise. This negotiation led to the signing of the Preliminary Articles of Peace, which was signed on November 30, 1782. The Articles of Peace served as the basis for the Treaty of Paris, which officially ended the American Revolutionary War in 1784.