The Illinois Country and the Treaty of Paris of 1783

“With the outbreak of the American Revolution, colonial leaders asserted their claims to the lands beyond the Alleghenies. Congress in its treaty plan of September, 1776, anticipated the acquisition of Canada, Nova Scotia, Florida, and all other British possessions on the North American continent.”

“Congress’s special committee to consider foreign affairs issued its initial report on February 23, 1779. This report delineated a northern line running from Nova Scotia to Lake Nipissing, then west to the Missisippi.”

“Clearly the critical decision for peace would be made in London because Britain alone could offer the essential concessions. The battle of Yorktown in October, 1781, convinced the ministry of Lord North that it could no longer continue the war in America. Still Lord North, backed by the king, refused to yield to American rebels. North resigned in March, 1782… Lord Rockingham and the earl of Shelburne, both moderates in their views towards the Americans, formed a new ministry. Confronted with a collapsing situation in the New World, Shelburne informed the king that the ministry had no choice but to recognize American independence. Earlier Shelburne had favored reconciliation in the form of a federal union between the colonies and Great Britain; now he advocated total independence to weaken American ties to France. In April Shelburne dispatched Richard Oswald, a Scottish merchant, to open conversations with Franklin in Paris. Franklin read his terms of peace to Oswald from a paper which he had prepared with great care. The British concessions which Franklin declared necessary for reconciliation included the recognition of American independence, a favorable boundary settlement which might embrace Canada and Nova Scotia, and fishing rights on the Newfoundland Banks and elsewhere along the coast of British North America.”

“In October 1782, the British were scarcely in a generous mood; Oswald had simply given too much away. Upon examining the provisional draft, the Cabinet instructed Oswald to obtain a better boundary between Nova Scotia and Maine… Shelburne was determined to obtain land as compensation for the Tory refugees.

Graebner, Norman A. “The Illinois Country and the Treaty of Paris of 1783.” Illinois Historical Journal, vol. 78, no. 1, 1985, pp. 2–16. JSTOR, Accessed 9 June 2021.