Securing American Independence: John Jay and the French Alliance

By Frank W. Brecher | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3

From the Declaration of Independence to the Battle of Saratoga

FALL 1776-WINTER 1777-78

The die would also be cast for France by that Declaration, which set off another in Vergennes's series of major policy analyses for the king and his Council, this one of August 1776, called Considerations, a vital link in the major phases of France's progressively more bellicose reaction to events in North America under Louis XVI. 123 This particular analysis, which followed a policy exercise of March-April 1776 leading to the initiation of secret and indirect Bourbon financial aid to the Americans through Beaumarchais, still did not urge immediate French recognition of the U.S. but it did conclude that reconciliation between England and the Americans was now unlikely, and it did successfully recommend (1) that France help keep the English struggle with its rebellious colonies alive pending the predictable English war on France—as Vergennes would put it in his next major policy paper, Reflections, January 5, 1777, “Our very defensive moves will lead to a war with England”; and (2) that France act on the premise that it would be better off having such a war than having to live with an unavoidably “precarious peace, ” because the advantages of war would by far outweigh its inconveniences (such as avoiding uselessly heavy financial costs merely to keep on ready alert an inactive military and naval establishment while waiting for the

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