British Parliament Votes To End War With America!
February 1782 House of Commons Vote Effectively Concedes American Independence!
Votes Causes Collapse of Anti-American Government of Lord North Supported by King George III and Start of Peace Negotiations
Historic Newspaper In Great Shape With Red Tax Stamp
Debate on American War Takes Over 3/4 of Front Page
"In consequence of this important decision, the nation are at last within the prospect of enjoying the blessings of a PEACE WITH AMERICA"
Thus ends the lengthy newspaper report of two debates and votes in the House of Commons which effectively ended the Revolutionary War and granted Independence to America. This very rare and historic newspaper has the fullest and most complete treatment available of the most important political event that directly led to American Independence. As noted in the last excerpt pictured above, discussions of peace and independence began immediately after the vote with the former President of Congress, Henry Laurens, who was in London at the time and was then the American Ambassador to Holland. And there was speculation that "Mr. Laurens, though the medium of Dr. Franklin, is certainly vested with powers from the American Congress, for treating of a SEPARATE peace with Great Britain." In fact Ben Franklin, John Adams and John Jay, the American Peace Commissioners, were not authorized to conclude a separate peace with England, but that is what they did anyway. The sequence of events, starting with the debate and vote recorded in this newspaper, are as follows:
February 27, 1782 - House of Commons votes against further war in America.
March 5, 1782 - The British Parliament empowers the King to negotiate peace with the United States.
March 20, 1782 - British Prime Minister, Lord North, resigns, succeeded two days later by Lord Rockingham who seeks immediate negotiations with the American peace commissioners.
April 4, 1782 - Sir Guy Carleton becomes the new commander of British forces in America, replacing Gen. Clinton. Carleton will implement the new British policy of ending hostilities and withdraw British troops from America.
April 12, 1782 - Peace talks begin in Paris between Ben Franklin and Richard Oswald of Britain.
April 19, 1782 - The Dutch recognize the United States of America as a result of negotiations conducted in the Netherlands by John Adams.
June 11, 1782 - The British evacuate Savannah, Georgia.
August 27, 1782 - The last fighting of the Revolutionary War between Americans and British occurs with a skirmish in South Carolina along the Combahee River.
November 30, 1782 - A preliminary peace treaty is signed in Paris. Terms include recognition of American independence and the boundaries of the United States, along with British withdrawal from America.
December 14, 1782 - The British evacuate Charleston, South Carolina.
January 20, 1783 - England signs a preliminary peace treaty with France and Spain.
February 3, 1783 -The Treaty of Paris is signed by Ben Franklin, John Jay and John Adams and Spain recognizes the United States of America, followed later by Sweden, Denmark and Russia.
February 4, 1783 - England officially declares an end to hostilities in America.
April 11, 1783 - Congress officially declares an end to the Revolutionary War.
Below are close-up of the newspapers masthead and red tax stamp on the front page.
In addition to the debate and vote to end the Revolutionary War, the newspaper also references the battle which brought them to the debate and vote, the defeat of General Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown with meager assistance from General Henry Clinton, the Commander in Chief of his Majesty's Forces in North America. That defeat was an obvious shock to the British public who was led to believe their troops were invincible, so the recriminations and investigations naturally followed. Below a news article notes the "enquiry into the cause of the surrender of the army under Lord Cornwallis" which was then being conducted by the House of Lords.
Below are excerpts from the front page of the newspaper which over three-quarters of which is taken up with the debate on the resolution to end the "American War," which is known here as the Revolutionary War. It starts with General Conway introducing his resolution to end the war and his argument for his resolution.
One of the opponents of the resolution, who thus supported the Administration of Lord North and King George III, makes the argument that the war is really against France, not America, and that England can not afford to surrender to France.
The excerpt from the debate below contains the contributions of four members of Parliament, two on each side of the question. It includes a member supporting the resolution who succinctly rebuts the argument that the war in America is against France by stating that if true it means 3,400 French soldiers were defeating 73,000 British troops, a conclusion which any loyal British citizen must refuse to accept.
The excerpt below gives a flavor of the debate offered by the greatest orator in British history, Edmund Burke, who opposed the war. The respect with which he was held was evident from the article writer's disclaimer that, "It is absolutely impossible to pursue him through all the mazes of ingenuity, or to soar with him the the heights to which his fancy carried him."
The debate ended at 2:00 in the morning and ended one vote short of success, but everyone knew that it failed only because many members were not present from the "country" and that the resolution would be renewed again soon.
Immediately after the vote, which was recognized as momentous on both sides, the contenders continued a verbal battle which resulted in Prime Minister North losing his composure which resulted in chaos and disorder in the house. Below the text catches the flavor of the uproar and the begrudging apology of Lord North.
The resolution to end the war was renewed in the middle of the next week, this time at the behest of the "Sheriffs of London" together with the earlier petition from the City of Bristol, both commercial centers that were harmed by the war in America.
General Conway again led the debate and his arguments are summarized below. A long debate ensued which led to the favorable 19 vote margin noted above which ended the war in America.
We have found nothing comparable to this historic newspaper offered by any of the Americana or rare newspaper dealers in either British or American newspapers. It is likely they are all in libraries, museums and private collections. American Revolutionary newspapers mentioning critical battles sell for thousands and even the briefest mention of winning independence in period newspapers are pricey. This one is in great condition, the main debate on American Independence through ending the war is on the front page, and it contains both the actual vote and the start of the peace process. A truly remarkable and historic artifact.