France in the American Revolution

France in the American Revolution

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France in the American Revolution

France in the American Revolution

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Excerpt

On Friday the 6th of February, 1778, plenipotentiaries met in Paris to sign a treaty for which there had been no precedent in history, and of which there has been no imitation since. Three of them represented a government that was independent only in its own estimation; they were called Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee, and were delegates of the new-born "United States of North America"; the fourth represented the oldest monarchy in Europe, and was Conrad Gérard de Rayneval, destined to be later the first diplomat ever accredited to America.

Article II of the treaty provided that "the essential and direct end of the present defensive alliance is to maintain effectually the liberty, sovereignty and independence absolute and unlimited of the said United States." By other articles France pledged herself not to lay down her arms until this independence had been achieved, and, whatever be the delay, cost, or losses, to neither claim nor accept anything for the help thus provided. She even specifically consented that the harshest of the conditions of the 1763 treaty of peace with England be maintained: if conquests were made "in the northern part of America," the conquered land would be annexed to the United States, and not to the country which had settled Canada and possessed it until that peace.

A treaty of commerce had been signed on the same day, and in the same spirit, France reserving for herself no advantage but subscribing an agreement . . .

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