History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 5

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTEE XVII.
FRANCE AND THE UNITED STATES.
DECEMBER 1777–APRIL 1778.

THE account of Burgoyne’s surrender, which was brought to France by a swift-sailing ship from Boston, threw Turgot and all Paris into transports of joy. None doubted the ability of the states to maintain their independence. On the twelfth of December their commissioners had an interview with Vergennes. “Nothing,” said he, “has struck me so much as General “Washington’s attacking and giving battle to General Howe’s army. To bring troops raised within the year to this, promises everything. The court of France, in the treaty which is to be entered into, intend to take no advantage of your present situation. Once made, it should be durable; and therefore it should contain no condition of which the Americans may afterward repent, but such only as will last as long as human institutions shall endure, so that mutual amity may subsist forever. Entering into a treaty will be an avowal of your independence. Spain must be consulted, and Spain will not be satisfied with an undetermined boundary on the west. Some of the states are supposed to run to the South Sea, which might interfere with her claim to California.” It was answered that the last treaty of peace adopted the Mississippi as a boundary. “And what share do you intend to give us in the fisheries?” asked Yergennes; for in the original draft of a treaty the United States had proposed to take to themselves Cape Breton and the whole of the island of Newfoundland. Explanations were made by the American commissioners that their later instructions removed all chances of disagreement on that subject.

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