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17 Diplomacy

france, treaty, alliance, aid, independence, britain, colonies and peace

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17. DIPLOMACY. No complete history of the diplomacy of this country has;. been written. Much of its diplomatic effort has been spent upon private claims and nat,ional affairs, commercial rather than political, history of these would be dull reading.-im deed. Moreover, it must be confessed _that for long periods in our national life, our:With try played but an inconspicuous part in lilt world's politics, and upon such periods the his. torian must touch but lightly. To sketch lilt diplomacy of a century and a third, observing a proper sense of proportion; to tra,ce sly growth of policies, which have marched. with the nation's growth; to characterize treatiet which are the crystallized results of diplomacy.; yet withal to keep within the narrow limits of a review such as this; such is the aim of; this article. The treatment of the subject chosen is partly by periods and partly by topics, the latter where it is desirable to show the con tinuous growth of a policy or the history of.a negotiation running over many years.

The French Alliance, 1778.— How to get military supplies and aid; how to win a stand ing among nations; these were the problems which the men of the Revolution had to face. The difficulties were tremendous. No foreign state was in political sympathy with the colonies. Recognition of their independence meant war with Great Britain. The only string to play upon was hostility to Great Britain. The only states likely to feel such hostility were Spain — on account of Gibraltar— and France, driven out of Canada by the Eng lish only 15 years before. Secret aid had been sent by France in 1776 and 1777 to keep the struggle alive, but open aid was dangerous, un less the colonies showed ability to hold their own. Thus the diplomatic situation waited upon the military one. The success at Sara toga was the turning point. Not in itself but in its consequences it was one of the great battles of the world. For after that the Comte de Vergennes threw off the mask, made trea ties of commerce and alliance, thus recogniz ing the infant state, sent money and aid openly, and accepted the consequence —war with Eng land. In all this Franklin was the influential factor. His fellow-commissioners, Deane and Lee, were inferior men. Their instructions from Congress were impossible, to seek recognition, commercial privileges and aid, without reciprocal military engagements. By departing from these, they secured a liberal commercial treaty and a military alliance, binding until the independence of the colonies was secured, peace to be made jointly with the common enemy. These treaties did very much

to accomplish American independence. Spain, though in nominal alliance with France, actually gave but trifling help.

The Treaty of Peace, 1782.— There had been overtures and negotiations looking toward peace in 1778 and 1779, but not on the basis of a prior recognition of American independence which the colonies deemed essential. In 1781 various agents to foreign states were united as commissioners, with full power to treat with Great Britain. These were Franklin, Adams, H. Laurens and Jay. Of these Franklin alone had faith in the sincerity of the French govern ment. A change in the British ministry in the spring of 1782, Lord North going out, made negotiation easier. The chief points at issue were: (1) The boundaries; (2) the Northern fisheries; (3) the confiscated estates of Loyalists. Spain intrigued with France against the Mis sissippi as our western boundary, desiring to confine the new state to the region east of the Alleghanies. But by the westward migration into the Ohio which was already in motion, this was made impossible. In the northeast the Penobscot and Saint John rivers had been urged as boundaries, and a compromise, the Saint Croix, adopted. New England regarded the enjoyment of the fisheries of the Gulf and Banks as essential to her prosperity. Against the covert opposition of France and the indif ference of the South, she stoutly held out for large fishing liberties and got them. Full resto ration of confiscated estates by the new gov ernment was a financial impossibility, was phys ically difficult, was negatived by the fortune of war. The utmost that Great Britain could wring from the Americans was a treaty provi sion that Congress should recommend to the States restitution and compensation to the pur chaser for value. This was, and probably was intended to be, a nullity. But it was coupled with the welcome proviso that debts should be collectible and further confiscations stopped. This treaty was provisional, and made without Vergennes' knowledge (which was a violation of instructions), so great was the distrust of France by Adams and Jay. It was put into de finitive shape the next year, 1783, with French consent and in compliance with Article VIII of the treaty alliance of 1778. This treaty of peace was a diplomatic triumph for the United States.

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