Today, the Peace Dollar Coin remembers the efforts in Versailles where on November 30, 1782 the preliminary articles of peace were jointly signed by representatives from Great Britain and America.
From the American Revolution to the Present compiled by Israel Smith Clare, published in 1897, a brief history of the preliminary articles of peace:
As we have seen, the surrender of Lord Cornwallis had fully convinced the English people of the folly and hopelessness of recovering the British dominion in North America; but Lord North’s Ministry declared their determination to carry on “a war of posts.”
The nation at large opposed this foolish project; and Parliament, yielding to the voice of the English people, gradually withdrew its support from the administration.
Finally, on March 4, 1782, on the motion of General Conway, the House of Commons voted that “whoever shall advise His Majesty to the continuation of the American war shall be considered a public enemy.”
This vote of want of confidence in the Ministry led to the immediate resignation of Lord North and his colleagues; whereupon a Whig Ministry under the Marquis of Rockingham came into power, pledged to the restoration of peace.
A member of this Ministry was the great statesman Charles James Fox, an earnest friend of the Americans during the whole period of the war, and an opponent of the system of Parliamentary taxation of the colonies, which had led to the war.
The New Ministry immediately commenced negotiations for peace with all the belligerent powers at war with England, and sent orders to the British commanders in America to cease from hostilities against the Americans; but the negotiations were protracted for some months by the changes in the British Ministry, while hostilities were prosecuted with vigor between Great Britain and her European enemies until after the repulse of the French and Spaniards in the siege of Gibraltar, in September, 1782.
The Marquis of Rockingham, whose administration was signalized by the concession of Ireland’s legislative independence, died in July, 1782; whereupon the Earl of Shelburne became Prime Minister, which so displeased Mr. Fox and the larger Whig faction which he headed that he and his friends in the Ministry resigned.
Conferences for peace were opened at Paris, through the mediation of the Emperor Joseph II of Germany and the Empress Catharine the Great of Russia; and, under the Ministry of the Earl of Shelburne, Great Britain concluded peace with the belligerent powers with which she had been at war.
The United States appointed John Adams of Massachusetts, John Jay of New York, Dr. Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia and Henry Laurens of South Carolina to proceed to France as commissioners to conclude a treaty of peace with Great Britain; but Mr. Jefferson did not serve.
By the Preliminary Peace of Versailles, November 30, 1782, between England and the United States, the former acknowledged the independence of the latter.
England concluded the Preliminary Peace of Paris with France and Spain, January 20, 1783; England and France restoring their respective conquests, except the island of Tobago, in the West Indies, and the forts on the river Senegal, in Africa, which were retained by France; while Spain kept Florida and the island of Minorca, but could not purchase Gibraltar, though she offered Oran, in Africa, and the island of Porto Rico, in the West Indies, in exchange.
Though England unreservedly acknowledged the independence of the United States, she retained Canada, the Hudson’s Bay Territory, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Labrador and Newfoundland.
Finally, September 3, 1783, a definitive treaty of peace was signed at Paris between the United States, Great Britain, France and, Spain; and the United States became an acknowledged power among the nations of the earth, with its boundaries extending northward to the Great Lakes and Canada, westward to the Mississippi, and southward to the Spanish possessions on the Gulf of Mexico, and obtained an unlimited right of fishing on the banks of Newfoundland.
The preliminary treaty of peace between England and Holland was signed at Paris, September 3, 1783; but the definitive treaty between these two powers was not signed until May 20, 1784, when the Dutch ceded Negapatam to Great Britain, and granted to British subjects a free trade in the Indian seas in which the Dutch had hitherto maintained an exclusive commerce and navigation.
Although the establishment of American independence may have been galling to English pride, the United States as an independent republic were of far greater commercial value to the mother country than they had been as English colonies; while the overtaxed English people were relieved of the burden of supporting an extensive military establishment three thousand miles from home, and their material prosperity was thereby unhampered.
From The Works of Dr. Benjamin Franklin by himself and William Temple Franklin, published in 1809, the introduction to the provisional articles of peace:
Provisional Articles with Great Britain.
Articles agreed upon by and between Richard Oswald, Esq. the commissioner of his Britannic majesty, for treating of peace with the commissioners of the United States of America, in behalf of his said majesty, on the one part,
And John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and Henry Laurens, four of the commissioners for the said states, for treating of peace with the commissioners of his said majesty, on their behalf, on the other part;
To be inserted in, and to constitute the treaty of peace, proposed to be concluded between the crown of Great Britain and the said United States;
But which treaty is not to be concluded, until terms of a peace shall be agreed upon between Great Britain and France, and his Britannic majesty shall be ready to conclude such treaty accordingly.
Whereas reciprocal advantages and mutual convenience are found by experience to form the only permanent foundation of peace and friendship between states;
It is agreed to form the articles of the proposed treaty on such principles of liberal equity and reciprocity, as that partial advantages (those seeds of discord) being excluded, such a beneficial and satisfactory intercourse between the two countries may be established, as to promise and secure to both perpetual peace and harmony.
The Peace Dollar Coin shows with a work by Trenchard titled “Behold! a fabric now to freedom rear’d,” circa 1788.