Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery

1783: Subject or Citizen?

On exhibit at the National Archives Building, Washington, DC
October 3, 2008 - January 25, 2009

The year 2008 marks the 225th anniversary of the Treaty of Paris that ended the American Revolution resulting in the reshaping of modern North America. The international exhibition, 1783: Subject or Citizen?, brings together for the first time Library and Archives Canada and the National Archives and Records Administration. This exhibit incorporates many valuable archival treasures from the vaults of both institutions, including the rarely seen American copy of the 1783 Treaty of Paris.

The American Revolution divided North Americans, forcing them to make life-altering choices including the decision to remain subjects to the King or become citizens of an independent republic. The Treaty of Paris formally ended the Revolutionary War and laid the foundation for two new North American countries: the United States of America and Canada. Americans were forced to live by their choices and to reshape their lives to fit the new social and political reality of the North American continent. The treaty often reinforced, instead of solved, old complaints. Issues over borders and territory, fishing rights, and compensation for losses were hotly contested for decades and even to this day.

Key documents from the National Archives include the Definitive Treaty of Paris, coded documents used by the negotiators, Thomas Jefferson's handwritten ratification document, and Benjamin Franklin's annotated map of negotiated boundaries. Holdings from the Library and Archives Canada complement these documents, including portraits of George III and Joseph Brant, contemporary maps of British North America, and a rare Washington Peace Medal.

Definitive Treaty of Peace between United States and Great Britain, September 3, 1783
[signature page]
General Records of the United States Government
[ARC ID 299805]

Visiting the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery