YOUR NAME HERE INSTRUCTOR NAME HERE CLASS NAME/NUMBER HERE DATE HERE American History: French Aid, the Beginning and the End of the Revolutionary War, And Thomas Jefferson, Biography of a Statesman, Patriot, and President Introduction In contemplating the discourse of American history, the Revolutionary War undoubtedly stands out as one of the most celebrated and well-known chapters…
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The colonists probably would not have won the war without the aid of the country of France, who provided valuable support for the colonies. Fighting together against Great Britain, whom France considered a common enemy between the two countries, support was provided for the colonies at first only diplomatically. As the war progressed and the odds of winning shifted to favor the colonists, France provided direct aid in the form of officers, soldiers, and weapons to aid in battle, in addition providing ships and naval forces to help with battles at sea. The Founding Fathers of the nation considered an alliance with France largely because of the fact that they too disliked Great Britain, and with good reason. Wars were not unusual between the two countries, the most recent at that time being the French and Indian War, also known as the Seven Years War (Brinkley 96). At its conclusion, the French lost valuable territories to Great Britain in the land of what is now America, cementing a dislike that would not easily be forgotten (Brinkley 97). The Founding Fathers decided to use this dislike to their advantage, and approached France to form an alliance. French Assistance to the Colonies At first, while France provided aid, it was only by indirect means, with no overt assistance. From letters written by Benjamin Franklin in 1775, the French already had knowledge of the widening crisis between Great Britain and America, and were certainly not keen to support Great Britain (United States Office of the Historian). Through a delegation appointed to France in 1776 consisting of Silas Deane as well as Benjamin Franklin, King Louis XVI was persuaded through position papers of his advisors to give aid to the colonists (Dull 61). He provided the monetary means to equip the colonists with arms in the form of one million livres tournois (Dull 61). King Louis XVI also ordered two groups of ships from the French fleet to stand ready for prompt dispatch, should Great Britain move to blockade any French ports of sea (Dull 61). The money itself was not loaned directly to the American government, as this would have been seen as an overt act of war; Great Britain, at this time, was keeping close watch on French actions and France could not afford another war with them (Dull 61). Secrets piled on top of secrets to help America. Commerce became the solution. The French foreign minister Comte de Vergennes created a commercial company, which was then used as a go-between and given the million livres tournois (Dull 61). The money, through the company, purchased arms from the French government, including guns, gunpowder, and other military supplies, which it sold to the American Congress, to be exchanged for payment in American tobacco (Dull 61). Through means such as this, France was able to provide indirect aid to the American nation while remaining largely in the background of any conflict between Great Britain and the Americas. It also did not hurt the French to know that, once again, their common enemy would be wounded one way or another by the French supplies. It was soon apparent that secret aid would not be enough for the American Revolution. While France was content to provide that aid and remain in the background, causing strife to the country of Great Britain by aiding the colonists, they were unsure of whether or not openly supporting the war would be a good decision.
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