Treaty of Paris Festival 2014

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September 23, 2014

The period between the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783 that ended the Revolutionary War and the writing of the Constitution in 1787 is often overlooked in school textbooks. However, it was a critical few years during which time it became apparent to many of the nation's leaders that a different kind of national government was needed in the United States.

The "Center for the Study of the Treaty of Paris Period" in Annapolis, Maryland is working to change that. Through their annual Treaty of Paris Festival and upcoming initiatives, the Center is drawing attention to important national events that took place in Annapolis and beyond during the 1780s.

National History in Annapolis

Engraving of Maryland State House by Charles Willson Peale, 1789Engraving of Maryland State House by Charles Willson Peale, 1789

Though Annapolis, Maryland today is considered a quaint tourist town, in the 1780s it was in the center of national politics, even acting as the first peacetime capital of the United States. The Confederation Congress met in the Maryland State House (still in use today) from November 23, 1783 to August 19, 1784.

During the time that Congress met in the Maryland State House, several important events took place. George Washington resigned his commission as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army on December 23, 1783, thus creating a firm precedent of the military being subordinate to the government. Also, the Treaty of Paris, which had been signed in Europe on September 3, 1783, was officially approved and ratified by Congress in the State House on January 14, 1784. With these two events, Annapolis witnessed both the symbolic and the official end to the Revolutionary War.

Though the federal capital moved to another city in August of 1784, Annapolis was the site of another gathering of national importance during this period. In September of 1786, a national convention, known as the Annapolis Convention, convened in the city. With the State House under construction, delegates met in Mann's Tavern. This convention was called to discuss interstate trade and commerce issues. However, it lacked a quorum of states and participants. Instead, Alexander Hamilton, one of the twelve delegates who attended, drafted the Annapolis Report.

First page of report from the Annapolis Convention, drafted in Alexander Hamilton's hand (National Archives)First page of report from the Annapolis Convention, drafted in Alexander Hamilton's hand (National Archives)

This report stated that commerce issues could not be addressed properly without first addressing the defects of the present Confederation as a whole. It instead proposed holding a national convention to revise the Articles of Confederation (the forerunner to the Constitution). The report even specified a time and place for this larger convention - Philadelphia in the second week of May 1787. When the convention in Philadelphia convened, its 55 delegates worked for four months drafting the US Constitution.Thus, the original call for the Constitutional Convention came from the Annapolis Report - read the full text of it here.  

2014 Treaty of Paris Festival

Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch at the Treaty of Paris FestivalMaryland House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch at the Treaty of Paris FestivalThe Center for the Study of the Treaty of Paris Period in Annapolis is devoted to increasing awareness about the overlooked 1780s time period, and their annual Treaty of Paris Festival is a full-day program packed full of talks, walks, and more.

Members of the AHA Society, including the President and Vice-President, attended the Festival this year. Talks included "Congress is Coming! How Annapolis Became the Federal Seat of Government in 1783," by Dr. Kenneth Bowling and “Cause and Effect? Shays' Rebellion, the 1786 Annapolis Convention and the Constitution,” by Dr. RJ Rockefeller. There was also a special presentation inside the Old Senate Chamber of the Maryland State House on "Congress in Annapolis, 1783-84, and the Reconstruction of the Old Senate Chamber," by representatives of the Maryland State Archives.

Browse the AHA Society photo album on Facebook to see festival photos.

Also, view the full description of events from the 2014 Treaty of Paris Festival.

About the Treaty of Paris Center

Participants in the 2014 Treaty of Paris Festival got a sneak peek at the future Treaty of Paris Center in Annapolis.  The grand opening of the Treaty of Paris Center is on Saturday, January 3, 2015 from 11:00-3:00 in the Crown and Crab room of the Maryland Inn in Annapolis. 

Inside the Treaty of Paris Center is a special exhibit on the 14 US Presidents before George Washington (as Presidents of Congress, prior to the US Constitution).  The exhibit features copies of the "America's 14 Forgotten Presidents Before George Washington" collection, which includes a signed document from each of the 14 men who held the office. The exhibit features these documents, portraits of each President, a brief write up on their lives, and what is taking place in the documents themselves. 

Also at the Center, visitors will have access to both short films and interactive touchscreens to learn more on these 14 Presidents of Congress and the important events that took place in Annapolis during the Treaty of Paris Period (1783-1787).

Learn more about what to do at the center. 

How to Visit the Treaty of Paris Center

Treaty of Paris Restaurant EntranceTreaty of Paris Restaurant Entrance

Location:
Crown and Crab Room
Maryland Inn
16 Church Circle
Annapolis, Maryland 

Note: The fastest entrance into the Maryland Inn to view the Treaty of Paris Center is through the Main Street entrance to the Treaty of Paris restaurant

Hours:
Open the first Saturday of each month, beginning January 3, 2015
11:00 am - 3:00 pm  

For up-to-date visiting information and more details, visit the Treaty of Paris Center website

July 2015 Update: The 2015 Treaty of Paris Festival will be held on September 12th with a special theme on Alexander Hamilton. Learn more from the AHA Society event e-flyer.

Related features:

2011 Treaty of Paris Festival 2014. (c) 2016 The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society
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