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6 the American Revolution Diplomatic Conditions During the War and the Peace Nego Tiations

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6. THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION (DIPLOMATIC CONDITIONS DURING THE WAR AND THE PEACE NEGO TIATIONS). Attempts to enter into rela dims in some form with foreign powers are to be found in the very early stages of the exist ence of the United States. In November 1775 Congress appointed a committee to corre spond with friends in other parts of the world and this committee very soon came into com munication with agents of the French govern ment, sent to observe conditions in the colonies. Early in 1776 this committee appointed Silas Deane as their agent to Igo to France for the purpose of obtaining military supplies and by the last of July he had been admitted to an interview with Vergennes, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and had been put into con nection with Beaumarchais, through whom, with the connivance of the government, important supplies of war were furnished. Deane had been instructed to inform Vergennes that France had been selected as the first power to whom this application should be made ((from an opinion that if we should . . . come to a. total separation from Great Britain, France would be looked upon as the power whose friendship it would be fittest for us to cultivate? After the Declaration of Independence, France and Spain, as powers most unfriendly to Eng land, were still courted with the greatest dili gence, but ministers or plenipotentiaries were also commissioned from time to time to the other courts on the Continent. From none but France and Holland, however, was recognition obtained, and from only these two was any official aid or countenance given before the conclusion of peace. Holland's recognition as extended just before the completion of the peace negotiations and Spain, though refusing to recognize the United States in the early days of the struggle, afforded a limited amount of financial assistance. In many regions of Europe among the people and at several of the courts, there was a disposition friendly to the Ameri can cause, but in no case was this disposition serious enough for practical purposes to lead the governments away from the path of strict neutrality, except in the limited way afforded by the Armed Neutrality.

From the first, the French government had taken great interest in the colonial revolt and, before the arrival of Deane, had determined for the present to remain nominally at peace with England, but to assist the revolt surrepti tiously with just enough energy to keep both sides actively and, if possible, exhaustingly, oc cupied. In this policy the Spanish government joined and between the two governments 2,000, 000 livres were placed at the disposal of the insurgents in the summer of 1776. In Septem ber 1776 Congress adopted a general plan for treaties to be proposed to foreign powers and joined Franklin and Arthur Lee with Deane as commissioners to lay such a treaty before the French government. The coming of Franklin increased the general popularity of the Ameri can cause, but the government was not disposed to change its attitude for the relations of the proposed treaty, which was concerned largely with commercial relations and provided for no political alliance. Apparently Congress' appre

ciation of the need for foreign aid grew stronger after the British capture of the mouth of the Hudson and shortly after the meeting of the commissioners in Paris they were in structed to abandon the commercial basis of the proposed treaty and to propose to France and Spain 'a political connection, offering as sistance to France in conquest of the West In dies, and to Spain in the subjugation of Portu gal. Little substantial progress was made, how ever, in this direction till December 1777, when news was received of the surrender of Bur goyne's army at Saratoga. This signal achieve ment of the Americans entirely changed the face of affairs by convincing France of the probability of ultimate American success, and within a few days of the receipt of the news the commissioners were informed, in reply to their peremptory inquiry as to the intentions of the government, that the king was determined to acknowledge the independence of the United States and to enter into treaty relations in sup port of that independence. Accordingly, on 6 Feb. 1778, two treaties, one of commerce, on the most-favored-nation principle, and one of alliance, which provided for an intimate politi cal association of the two countries, were signed. The treaty of alliance, which was very different from the original American proposals, stated the object of the alliance to be the main tenance of the sovereignty and independence of the United States in government as well as in commerce, provided for mutual aid in case of war between France and Great Britain, agree ing that territory reduced by the United States in the northern part of North America and in the Bermudas should belong to the United States, and that conquests in the West Indies should belong to the Icing of France, stipulated especially that neither party should conclude peace with Great Britain without the formal consent of the other first obtained, and pro vided for the continuance of the war with Great Britain till formal or tacit recognition of the independence of the United States by the treat ies ending the war. Articles XI and XII pro vided for a mutual and perpetual guarantee of possessions in the western hemisphere, which was to give serious trouble in the subsequent relations between the two states. Whatever the sentiments of the French people, the French government entered into this relation, as was plainly stated in the announcement to the com missioners of the king's determination to rec ognize the new state, from no purely disinter ested motives in favor of the Americans, but on the ground that it was manifestly to' the interest of France that the power of England be diminished by the separation of the colonies. The popular sentiment for the American cause simply co-operated with Vergennes' aggressive 'designs on England in opposition to the more prudent suggestions within the government as to the ruinous effect of such an expensive en terprise upon French finances.

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