Although Gen. Cornwallis had surrendered at Yorktown, the British army continued to occupy major cities. Why, then, did his surrender bring the war to an end?
In 1781 at the Battle of Yorktown, General Cornwallis surrendered to American and French forces (Wood, 2002). The American forces led by General George Washington and French forces were led by Commander Comte de Rochambeau decided to attack General Cornwallis in Virginia as opposed to attacking the well-fortified New York City (Wood, 2002). The two forces carried out a surprise attack on the British at Chesapeake, thus forcing the British soldiers to retreat into New York. This left General Cornwallis isolated at Yorktown, and when American and French forces attacked, he was overwhelmed. When General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, the British were shocked and embarrassed. Though the British continued to inhabit major cities, there was a hue and cry at the House of Commons. This caused the resignation of the British Prime Minister North who was replaced by Lord Shelborne (Brooklyn, 2012). As a result, Lord Shelborne negotiated the cessation of war and oversaw the ratification of the Treaty of Paris, which took place on 17th April, 1783 (Wood, 2002). This marked the recognition of American independence.
What was the role of the Tories in the last phase of the war (1780-1783)? How were they affected by the Treaty of Paris and the peace that followed?
The Tories were also known as ‘loyalists’ or ‘king’s men’ during the American Revolution (Wood, 2002). They were faithful to the British Crown, and it is estimated that they numbered approximately 15-20% of the population. Tories had connections with the Church of England, and had business connections across the British Empire and with royal officials. The loyalists were usually older, deeply conservative individuals who did not wish to break their ties with the British. Most loyalists advocated for moderation, but were forced into activism by colonists who denounced them for not supporting the war. Many loyalists either joined the British army or operated as guerrilla factions during the last stages of the war. New York is estimated to have provided 23,000 Torie troops (Wood, 2002). Congress took actions against them by taxing them heavily, denying them public office, or confiscating their property. After the war, many loyalists continued to leave United States along with other British citizens, though some returned to their home states. The Treaty stated that loyalist properties were to be restored to them; however, this was widely ignored by individual states and many were never reimbursed. However, confiscating their property was forbidden.
How were French efforts to weaken the settlement (Treaty of Paris) frustrated by American diplomacy?
The Americans frustrated French efforts to weaken the Treaty of Paris were frustrated because the American did not trust the French or the Spanish (Wood, 2002). America had tried to win Spanish support and recognition, to no avail. America suspected that France was negotiating with the British and was secretly supporting Spain’s requests for territorial compensation (Brooklyn, 2012). America decided to stall France by offering to negotiate separate peace terms with Britain. This was against the Treaty and France was displeased. America justified itself to France by claiming that they had signed preliminary documents of peace, and pacified France by restating its commitment to the alliance (Brooklyn, 2012). As a result, the diplomatic efforts of the Americans resulted in good relations between France, Spain, and the Britain.
How were Spanish claims in Florida and west of the Mississippi River settled?
The diplomatic efforts of the Americans contributed much to Spanish conceding their claims to Florida and western part of the Mississippi river. By making peace concessions with Britain and ensuring that diplomatic relations with France were intact, America was able to get the Spanish to let go of their claims. This happened because since the Americans convinced France of their commitment to their alliance, France was able to resolve the diplomatic troubles it faced with Spain (Wood, 2002). As a result, the French convinced Spain to make peace and moderate their demands (Wood, 2002). With France and Spain in agreement, they were able to negotiate with Britain and Spain, especially agreed to regard America as an independent nation, thus leading to new territorial divisions where Spain lost its claims to Florida and west of the Mississippi (Brooklyn, 2012).
Explain how the Treaty of Paris gave Americans almost everything they wanted except Canada
The Treaty of Paris seemed to have been very generous to the Americans because the British gave up all their rights to the states and gave the United States their independence. The Americans were also allotted back territories they had captured which were to be returned to them (Wood, 2002). Certain portions like Florida and west of the Mississippi river were in contention, with the Spanish. However, the diplomatic efforts of the Americans managed to get Spain to give up their claims to west of the Mississippi and Florida; but they were not allotted the region North of the Mississippi which constituted Canada, where certain regions were still considered parts of the British North America (Brooklyn, 2012). This gave America a large expanse of land and put it on its way to turning it into a continental force to be reckoned with.
Brooklyn College (2012). The politics of waging war: patriots, loyalists, and outsiders. Available at http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/history/dfg/amrv/amrv-xii.htm
Wood G. (2002). The American Revolution: a history. New York: Modern Library Publishers