Securing American Independence: John Jay and the French Alliance

By Frank W. Brecher | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8

Concluding Assessments
Typical of victorious powers in a major war, the U.S. fought for its independence in unusually favorable international circumstances:
1. England, following its great victory in the Seven Years' War a generation earlier, was now a feared, militarily isolated power in Europe, where the intangible balance-of-power was working to diminish that island nation's influence on continental and maritime affairs. Moreover, its domestic leadership was in a trough between the two Pitts, and George III, neither constitutionally nor in his personal qualities, was in a position to fill the gap. This political situation would have a negative effect on England's military, naval and diplomatic performances as well.
2. France was being given a burst of energetic new leadership with the replacement of Louis XV's sixty-year-old regime by that of his young grandson, Louis XVI. A major policy goal of that new leadership was, yes, to take “revenge” on England for forcing France into the shameful 1763 peace treaty but also, and more meaningfully, to restore the kingdom to its rightful and traditional place as the major power in continental affairs following the debacle of 1763 and the humiliation of having been ignored by Russia, Prussia and Austria as they divided up parts of Poland, France's historical ally.
3. The rest of the European continent was in a period of relative diplomatic and military calm. Recovering from the costs of the Seven Years' War was still a preoccupation in all the kingdoms financially and

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