American Revolution and the French Alliance

American Revolution and the French Alliance

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American Revolution and the French Alliance

Historians tell us that the French Indian War was the American phase of the Seven Year War, and that the chief antagonists during the war were the French and the British. These two countries had fought in the 1750's and the 1760's, and as a result France had lost all of its New World possessions. At the same time, the people of the Thirteen Colonies wanted their independence from Britain. Above all, they didn't like taxation without representation.

If they were going to achieve independence the American leaders realized that they would need an alliance with France, and they were eager to take advantage of the fact that the French and British were now enemies. The only country as wealthy and powerful as Britain was France. The Americans on the other hand, had no credit, no industry, and a very new and fragile government. They did not have to convince France's King Louis XVI. He liked the idea of financing a revolution against his old enemy so he made the first move.

Then by 1775, King Louis XVI foreign minister became convinced that the Americans could win the war. They decided to send a secret agent named Achard de Bonvouloir to America. Upon arrival, Achard met in front of a committee headed by Benjamin Franklin. Shortly afterward, the Continental Congress sent Silas Deane to France to purchase the equipment and uniforms for 25,000 soldiers. Silas was told to get the French to declare a full alliance with the Americans. He also bought artillery and munitions.

France and Spain needed a way to send money undetected to the Americans. They decided to ask Pierre de Beaumarchais to put together a shell company so they could finance the war undetected. At the time, Pierre was a famous playwright, and extremely well known for creating the character Figaro, in his hilarious play Barber of Seville. Beaumarchais had a lengthy history with the French government. He had already led two secret diplomatic missions into Germany and England. As a result, the French government believed that Pierre was the perfect person for the job. He called his new international trading company Roderique Hortalez & Cie.

Beaumarchais was a brilliant businessman, and he funneled millions to the American Revolution. What he did next was even better, he allowed the Americans to trade tobacco, rice, and their other commodities for French military supplies. Pierre then took the goods and shipped them to France where they sold for a profit. The results were astonishing, aided by French funds the Americans soon won victories at both Trenton and Princeton. Before long, when they battled in Saratoga at Freeman's Farm and at Bernis Heights, 90% of the ammunition and weapons were paid for with French and Spanish funds.

After the victory at Saratoga, the French government informed Benjamin Franklin and the other American representatives in Paris that that they would be officially recognizing the independence of the United States of America. Soon afterward they hastily composed 2 formal treaties, concluding with a formal alliance between the 2 counties. The French announced the treaties on May 13, 1778. One was called The Treaty of Amity and Commerce, which recognized American independence, and the other was called The Treaty of Alliance, which pledged a military alliance between the two countries. The British responded immediately by pulling its ambassador out of Paris.

Benjamin Franklin aboard a ship en route to France