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Treaty with France

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

At length we have intelligence from France that the Congress have concluded a treaty of alliance with the King of the French:—His Most Christian Majesty guarantees the independence, sovereignty, liberties, and all the possessions of the United States of America; and they, on their part, guarantee all the dominions of that prince in the West Indies. The part he has acted upon this occasion is truly noble and magnanimous. No monopoly of our trade is desired; it is left open to all we choose to trade with. This is wise as it is generous, it being undoubtedly the interest of France that this treaty should be durable, which would not have been so likely had hard terms been exacted of us. We are, moreover, liberally assisted there with all kinds of supplies. The treaties were signed on the sixth of February, but were not publicly known when the frigate which brought them to Congress, sailed; but they were talked of as highly probable, from circumstances: and the English minister to defeat, if possible, this expected union, and recover the dependence of the colonies, has brought in two bills, which he calls conciliatory, but which are a composition of artifice and uncertainty. The right, as they are pleased to call it, of laying taxes on us is not given up; the Parliament only declared, that in consideration of some inconveniences found in the exercise of this right, they intend not to exercise it hereafter, except for regulating trade; but the next Parliament may find this declaration inconvenient, and may repeal it, and may resume the right. Commissioners are appointed to treat with any body of men in America, on the means of quieting the disorders there, but can do nothing definite, except granting pardons, declaring and revoking cessation of arms, &c. On this, a gentleman of character says, in one of his letters,I hope no American will be mean enough to accept their pardons; and I am sure they will not be so weak as to disband or disarm, in the smallest degree, on the faith of their declaring a cessation of arms.” He adds,Believe me, the malice of the British court is as great against us as ever, but they are at present in a great consternation, unable to go on, and dread to give up, and fearing a war with France and Spain, which they see must ruin them. If they can divide and weaken us, or deceive us into a submission, they will punish us at their leisure.” France has this same year renewed her fifty years’ alliance with the thirteen United States of Switzerland, which she has faithfully kept for two hundred years. A good omen for us. The accession of Spain to the treaties was not doubted. These events are most important in favor of America; they give us a stability that must support and extend our credit in Europe, while that of Britain is daily sinking. The good will to our cause in Europe is universal; all nations wish, and are ready to concur, in the humiliation of England, as soon as they dare. By returning to their government, we should have them and all Europe against us; we are now, with all Europe, against them. There is no hesitating a moment which to choose of these two situations. The public may rely on the authenticity of the above accounts, which, if improved with wisdom and spirit here, must, by the favor of Heaven, prove decisive for America.1


1 New York Journal, May 18.