On Ratification Day on January 14, the United States commemorates the ratification of the Treaty of Paris by the Confederation Congress, which ended the Revolutionary War and established America as an independent nation. There was a long road between the conclusion of the Revolutionary War’s hostilities and this day, and the treaty still needed approval in Paris after Ratification Day, but it was on this day that the United States Congress officially declared the war to be over.
History of Ratification Day
The American Revolutionary War, popularly called the American War of Independence or the Revolutionary War, was started by representatives from 13 British American colonies. From April 19, 1775, through September 3, 1783, it lasted for over eight years.
Congress issued a declaration of a “cessation of arms” against Great Britain on April 11, 1783, which was affirmed four days later. On September 3, 1783, representatives from the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Paris, declaring the United States a “free, sovereign, and independent” nation.
Congress met at the Maryland State House in Annapolis, on December 13, 1783, to ratify the Treaty of Paris. Only seven of the thirteen states were able to assemble the minimum number of representatives until mid-January due to the harsh winter of 1783-1784, which was marked by intense cold, ice storms, and snowstorms. Because only one delegate from each of New Hampshire and South Carolina had arrived, they were unable to vote. There were no representatives from New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, or Georgia present, so they were unable to vote as well.
By January 13, two delegates from Connecticut arrived, granting Connecticut the opportunity to vote on the treaty and raising the total number of states eligible to vote to eight. A delegate from New Jersey also arrived. The next day, Richard Beresford, a second delegate from South Carolina, arrived, and the vote could be cast. The Treaty of Paris was ratified by the United States Congress on January 14, 1784, widely known as Ratification Day.
We celebrate this observance to mark the end of the American War of Independence. It is an opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of all those who contributed to creating an independent nation.
Ratification Day timeline
The United States and Britain go to war.
Congress issues a "cessation of arms" against Great Britain on April 11.
Congress meets at the Maryland State House in Annapolis, on December 13 to ratify the Treaty of Paris.
The Treaty of Paris is ratified by the United States Congress on January 14.
Ratification Day FAQs
Which countries sided with the colonists?
The main allies of the colonists were the French, but the Netherlands and Spain also provided support.
What do Britons call the American Revolution?
In the United Kingdom, the American Revolution is known as the American War of Independence.
How did the United States win?
Without the intervention of allied nations (France, Spain, and the Netherlands) victory might not have been possible. The support for the war was overwhelming.
How to Celebrate Ratification Day
Visit the Museum of the American Revolution
Visiting the Museum of the American Revolution is among the best ways to celebrate Ratification Day. Browse through war memorabilia and learn more about the conflict.
Visit the Maryland State House
The Maryland State House hosts an event every year on Ratification Day. See the Old Senate Chamber where the treaty was ratified.
Fly the flag
Fly the same flag that was flown over the State House on Ratification Day. That flag is still flown there every year.
5 Facts About The American Revolution That Will Blow Your Mind
Lost at sea
It took two months for the treaty to make its way back to Britain.
Three separate messengers were used to deliver three copies of the ratified treaty to Britain.
George Washington, the first President, dropped out of school when he was 14 years old.
The shot heard around the world
On April 19, 1775, the "shot heard around the world" was fired, marking the start of the American Revolution.
An urgent summons
South Carolina's Richard Beresford had to travel from his hospital bed in Philadelphia for the ratification vote.
Why We Love Ratification Day
It’s an important part of American history
Ratification Day celebrates a crucial part of American history. This important event celebrates the free spirit and bravery that defines the nation to this day.
It’s a celebration of our independence
Ratification Day gives us the opportunity to mark our liberation from British rule. On this day in 1784, we became an independent nation.
Ratification Day will continue to serve as an inspiration to future generations. The struggles and triumphs of the past generations will bolster the passion of those to come.
Ratification Day dates