“Glorious Intelligence!” 1 April 1783 117
“Thus drops the Curtain upon this mighty Trajedy,” wrote John Adams to his wife on 22 January 1783
(below). Peace would not be official until the definitive treaties were concluded and ratified, but
on 20 January representatives of Great Britain, France, and Spain met at Versailles to sign preliminary peace treaties and exchange declarations of an armistice. The arrival of this news signaled, for all intents and purposes, that the war of the American Revolution had ended. John Adams and Benjamin Franklin witnessed the occasion and, at the same time, signed an armistice agreement with the British representative, Alleyne Fitzherbert (Miller, ed., Treaties
, 2:108–110). These agreements brought the preliminary Anglo-American peace treaty of 30 November 1782 into effect. Its implementation had been conditioned upon the conclusion of a general peace in order to keep the United States within at least technical compliance with Article 8 of the Franco-American Alliance of 1778, which prohibited the conclusion of a separate peace (same, 2:38–39).
The broadside announcing the event was the work of John Gill, noted Boston printer and publisher of the Continental Journal and Weekly Advertiser
. Its appearance on the morning of 1 April was received with rejoicing and relief: the war was over. Abigail Adams wrote: “I now most sincerely rejoice in the great and important event which sheaths the Hostile Sword and, gives a pleasing presage that our spears may become prunning hooks” (to John Adams, 7 April 1783
, below). Samuel Phillips Savage's note written on the reverse of the broadside was perhaps even more expressive. “This is kept for future Generations, tho it cannot by any means convey to them, the Joy so happy an Event gave us, who heard the first guns fired at Lexington and Concord and saw Charlestown in Flames, and who have endured and supported a Struggle of near 20 years and an actual, cruel and bloody war from 19 April 1775 until the arrival of a French Cutter called the Triumph
, commanded by the Chavelier Duquesne on the 25 March 1783 at Chester in the River Delawar from Cadiz—for which happy Event may America be properly
thankfull. Sam Phps Savage then 65 years Old.”
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.