French Assistance in the Revolutionary War

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The Revolutionary War was the most important turning point in thehistory of the United States. After several years of tension betweenthe British administrators and its colonies in America, the war beganin 1775. In the 18th century, Britain was one of the major globalpowers, with immense military and economic power necessary to counteraggression against its territories. However, the Continental Congresssought an alliance with European nations, mainly France, throughsecret communication. This was achieved due to the ability of theAmerican rebels to convince the European powers about theirintentions and plans, and, consequently, secured their support(Office of the Historian, nd).

Benjamin Franklin was able to take advantage of the traditionalrivalry in Europe to get French support. Consequently, when the warstarted, France recognized the American rebels. This led to thesigning of the Treaty of Alliance in 1778 and declaration of waragainst Britain (Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum, 2002).That changed the course of the war since the new republic was able toaccess financing and military technology from Europe. Some historianshave argued that the role of France resulted in the ultimate defeatof the British forces. Additionally, the French were able to convincetheir European allies, mainly Spain and Netherlands, to rally againstBritain. It also played a significant role in the agreements that ledto the Treaty of Paris, which marked the end of the war. However,there were other parallel negotiations between the European powersthat are collectively known as the Peace of Paris (Office of theHistorian, nd).

There are several reasons why France joined the revolutionary waragainst the colonial masters. The European power was motivated toaccede to the independence war in North America by the rivalry thatexisted in Europe (Wilde, 2016). The war was a chance for France torevenge against the British after its loss in the French and IndianWar (Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum, 2002). Additionally,it was an opportunity to weaken Britain. Thus, France was the firstcountry to recognize the United States as an independent nation andestablish military ties (Wilde, 2016).

Benjamin Franklin played a critical role in prompting sympathy fromEuropean countries and convincing France to support the Americanrebels against the British (Herbert Hoover PresidentialLibrary-Museum, 2002). Initially, they were unwilling to join the warbecause the Continental Army suffered a series of defeats. Paris wasnot ready for another humiliating confrontation in a foreign land. Asnews reached Europe that George Washington and his forces weregaining ground, especially after the Saratoga victory, the perceptionabout the war changed drastically resulting in a full alliance(Wilde, 2016). Additionally, France was able to secure the support ofother European powers with interests in the Americas. With theassurance of Spain backing, it signed the Treaty of Alliance (The OurDocuments initiative, nd).

The revolutionary war progressed according to the desires of France.However, the American rebels did not inform its European allies thatthey had started negotiations with Britain. While Spain retained itsterritories in Florida, the relationship between the United Statesand France declined significantly after independence (Wilde, 2016).Nonetheless, the Treaty of Paris enabled it to regain its territoriesin Africa and Asia, which had been captured by Britain (The OurDocuments initiative, nd). The war had an enormous impact on theFrench political and economic stability (Wilde, 2016).


Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum (2002). Why Did It TakeSo Long? retrieved from

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum (2002). What Was theProblem? retrieved from

Office of the Historian (nd). French Alliance, French Assistance,and European Diplomacy during the American Revolution, 1778–1782,retrieved from

The Our Documents initiative (nd). Transcript of Treaty ofAlliance with France (1778), retrieved from

The Our Documents initiative (nd). Transcript of Treaty of Paris(1783), retrieved from

Wilde, R. (2016). France in the American Revolutionary War.Retrieved from

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