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1783 Annual Register

End of Revolutionary War - Peace Treaties and Recognition of American Independence

George Washington Gives Up His Command of the Continental Army: Circular Address and Final Orders Emphasize Need For Stronger Federal Government

The highlight of this volume is the acknowledgement by the King of England and the English Parliament that the former English colonies in America were free and independent states. In this volume that acknowledgement comes in a variety of forms, the full text of the speech of King George III in December 1782 in which he notes his offer "to declare them free and independent states," the full text of the September 1783 peace treaty between the United States and England signed by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, and an extended history of the peace negotiations and significance of the treaty provisions.

There are two more interesting historical items in this volume that flowed directly from those peace negotiations. The first was settling account with France, the biggest financial and military supporter of America during the war and the second was the resignation of George Washington as head of the Continental Army and his advice to his troops, Congress and Governors.

Below are two excerpts from the speech of King George III  to Parliament in December 1782 which for the first time acknowledged American independence and his self-serving wish that "America may be free from those calamities which have formerly proved in the mother country how essential monarchy is to the enjoyment of constitutional liberty." He was right that something more than the Articles of Confederation were needed, but it was not an monarchy, it was our own Constitution adopted in 1787.

Below is part of the analysis of the treaty provision, here noting the "freedom, sovereignty and independence" granted as well as the "vast tracts of land" included within the agreed boundaries. The history section includes extensive information on the treaty negotiations as well as the debate in Parliament over the treaty provisions, especially regarding the treatment of Loyalists and their property.

Below is the start of the full text of the final treaty between England and the United States granting independence, establishing borders, fishing rights and other matters and the signature page of the document.

Below left is the signature page for the final peace treaty with England and below right the start of the contract  between the French King and the United States that was signed by Benjamin Franklin which called for America to pay back 18 million livres of loans given by France during the Revolutionary War.


With the Revolutionary War over it was time for George Washington to resign from the Continental Army and he did so in a manner that was important to American constitutional history. This volume contains the full text of Washington's June 18, 1783 Circular Letter to Governors and Congress and his November 2, 1783 Farewell Orders to the Armies of the United States. 

It is clear from the circular letter that Washington viewed the transition from war to peace as an auspcious moment to correct the problems with the current government:

this is the favorable moment to give such a tone to the federal government, as will enable it to answer the ends of its institution; or this may be the ill‑fated moment for relaxing the powers of the union, annihilating the cement of the confederation, and exposing us to become the sport of European politics, which may play one State against another, to prevent their growing importance, and to serve their own interested purposes. For, according to the system of policy the States shall adopt at this moment, they will stand or fall; and, by their conformation or lapse, it is yet to be decided, whether the revolution must ultimately be considered as a blessing or a curse; not to the present age alone, for with our fate will the destiny of unborn millions be involved.

Seeing the need, Washington wanted to help provide a solution:

With this conviction of the importance of the present crisis, silence in me would be a crime;

His priorities were clearly influenced by his frustrating experience with the government under the Articles of Confederation:

There are four things which I humbly conceive are essential to the well‑being, I may even venture to say, to the existence of the United States as an independent power.

1st. An indissoluble Union of the States under one Federal Head...

it will be a part of my duty, and that of every true patriot to assert, without reserve, and to insist upon the following positions. That unless the States will suffer Congress to exercise those prerogatives they are undoubtedly invested with by the constitution, every thing must very rapidly tend to anarchy and confusion. That it is indispensable to the happiness of the individual States, that there should be lodged, somewhere, a supreme power, to regulate and govern the general concerns of the con­federated republic, without which the Union cannot be of long duration.

He continues this theme even in his final orders to the army later in the year, as an obligation of each solder:

 And altho', the General has so frequently given it as his opinion in the most public and explicit manner, that unless the principles of the Federal Government were properly supported, and the Powers of the Union encreased, the honor, dignity and justice of the Nation would be lost for ever; yet he cannot help repeating on this occasion, so interesting a sentiment, and leaving it as his last injunction to every Officer and every Soldier, who may view the subject in the same serious point of light, to add his best endeavours to those of his worthy fellow Citizens towards effecting these great and valuable purposes, on which our very existence as a Nation so materially depends.

With such strong views on the need for a more powerful federal government it was not hard to convince George Washington to serve as President of the Constitutional Convention, which addresseed the central concerns he voiced in 1783.

Below are excerpts from George Washington's two works in the 1783 Annual Register and the full texts are available here.

Much of the Annual Register for 1783 concerns event far from America in the British colony of  India,. There the doings of the East India Company, Warren Hastings and British battles with Indians and the French occupy the first four chapters of the History of Europe

Besides the single volumes available below, this volume is also available in a first edition in both the 1758 through 1791 multi-volume set  and the 1778 though 1783 Revolutionary War leather set of Annual Registers.

Fine Leather 1783 Annual Register 1st Edition

This is a first edition of the 1783 Annual Register in a fine full leather binding executed by Green Dragon Bindery.

Price: SOLD

1783 Half Leather First Edition

Price: $225

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