To install click the Add extension button. That's it.

The source code for the WIKI 2 extension is being checked by specialists of the Mozilla Foundation, Google, and Apple. You could also do it yourself at any point in time.

Kelly Slayton
Congratulations on this excellent venture… what a great idea!
Alexander Grigorievskiy
I use WIKI 2 every day and almost forgot how the original Wikipedia looks like.
Live Statistics
English Articles
Improved in 24 Hours
Added in 24 Hours
What we do. Every page goes through several hundred of perfecting techniques; in live mode. Quite the same Wikipedia. Just better.

Treaty of Alliance (1778)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Left: Original Franco-American treaty, signed February 6, 1778
Right: Text of the 1778 Franco-American treaty, in a 1782 publication.

The Treaty of Alliance or Franco-American Treaty was a defensive alliance between France and the United States of America, formed in the midst of the American Revolutionary War, which promised mutual military support in case fighting should break out between French and British forces, as the result of signing the previously concluded Treaty of Amity and Commerce.[1] The alliance was planned to endure indefinitely into the future. Delegates of King Louis XVI of France and the Second Continental Congress, who represented the United States at this time, signed the two treaties along with a separate and secret clause dealing with future Spanish involvement, at the hôtel de Coislin (4, place de la Concorde) in Paris on February 6, 1778.[2] The Franco-American alliance would technically remain in effect until the 1800 Treaty of Mortefontaine,[3] despite being annulled by the United States Congress in 1793 when George Washington gave his Neutrality Proclamation speech saying that America would stay neutral in the French Revolution.[4]


When the thirteen British colonies in America declared their independence from Great Britain in 1776, their most obvious potential ally was France, a long-time enemy of Britain and a colonial rival who had lost much of their lands in the Americas after the French and Indian War. France's leadership had been alarmed by Britain's victory in the Seven Years' War which had shifted the European balance of power and had been planning for a war of revenge since the Treaty of Paris that had ended the conflict in 1763.[5] The French foreign minister Choiseul had envisaged this taking place in alliance with Spain and involving a Franco-Spanish invasion of Britain.[6] Choiseul had been ready go to war in 1770 during the Falklands Crisis, but Louis XV had been alarmed by the British naval mobilization and instead dismissed Choiseul and backed down.

As a result, John Adams began drafting conditions for a possible commercial treaty between France and the future independent colonies of the United States, which declined the presence of French troops and any aspect of French authority in colonial affairs.[7] On September 25 the Continental congress ordered commissioners, led by Benjamin Franklin, to seek a treaty with France based upon Adams draft treaty that had later been formalized into a Model Treaty which sought the establishment of reciprocal trade relations with France but declined to mention any possible military assistance from the French government.[8] Despite orders to seek no direct military assistance from France, the American commissioners were instructed to work to acquire most favored nation trading relations with France, along with additional military aid, and were encouraged to reassure any Spanish delegates that the United States had no desire to acquire Spanish lands in the Americas, in hopes that Spain would in turn enter a possible Franco-American alliance.[7]

Despite an original openness to the alliance, after word of the Declaration of Independence and a British evacuation of Boston reached France, the French Foreign Minister, Comte de Vergennes, put off signing a formal alliance with the United States after receiving news of British victories over General George Washington in the New York and New Jersey campaign.[8] With the help of the Committee of Secret Correspondence, established by the U.S. Continental Congress to promote the American cause in France, and his standing as a model of republican simplicity within French society, Benjamin Franklin was able to gain a secret loan and clandestine military assistance from the Foreign Minister but was forced to put off negotiations on a formal alliance while the French government negotiated a possible alliance with Spain.[8]

Benjamin Franklin's celebrity-like status in France helped win French support for the United States during the American Revolutionary War.[8]
Benjamin Franklin's celebrity-like status in France helped win French support for the United States during the American Revolutionary War.[8]

With the defeat of Britain at the Battle of Saratoga and growing rumors of secret British peace offers to Franklin, France sought to seize an opportunity to take advantage of the rebellion and abandoned negotiations with Holland to begin discussions with the United States on a formal alliance.[8] With official approval to begin negotiations on a formal alliance given by King Louis XVI, the colonies turned down a British proposal for reconciliation in January 1778[9] and began negotiations that would result in the signing of The Treaty of Amity and Commerce and The Treaty of Alliance.


The Treaty of Alliance was in effect an insurance policy for France, which guaranteed the support of the United States if Britain broke the peace that it had with the French "either by direct hostilities, or by (hindering) her commerce and navigation,"[10] as a result of the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce. The treaty noted the terms and conditions of the military alliance, established requirements for the signing of future peace treaties to end hostilities with the British, and provided a secret clause[8] that left open the possibility of Spain and other European nations "who may have received injuries from England"[10] to join the alliance.

Articles 1–4: Terms of the defensive alliance

The first articles of the treaty establish that in the case that war broke out between France and Britain during the continuing hostilities of the American Revolutionary War, a military alliance would be formed between France and the United States, which would combine each respective military force and efforts for the direct purpose of maintaining the "liberty, Sovereignty, and (independence) absolute and unlimited of the said United States, as well in Matters of (Government) as of commerce."[10]

Articles 5–9: Terms and conditions of peace treaties with England

This portion of the treaty pre-emptively divide up any lands obtained from Great Britain by successful military campaigns or concessions made by Britain in peace treaties to end hostilities with the signing nations. The United States was effectively guaranteed control of any land that it could gain possession of in North America, besides the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, which France had retained possession of after the Seven Years' War, and Bermuda since King Louis XVI of France renounced "for ever the possession of the Islands of Bermudas as well as of any part of the continent of North America which before the treaty of Paris in 1763, or in virtue of that Treaty, were acknowledged to belong to the Crown of Great Britain, or to the United States heretofore called British Colonies, or which are at this Time or have lately been under the Power of The King and Crown of Great Britain."[10] In return, the King was guaranteed "any of the Islands situated in the (Gulf) of Mexico, or near that (Gulf)" of which France could gain possession. Additional clauses insured that neither France nor the United States would seek to make any additional claims of compensation for their services during the conflict and that neither side would cease fighting or sign a peace treaty with Britain without the consent of the other nation and insurances that the independence of the United States would be recognized by Britain.[10]

Article 10: Open invitation to other nations

Article 10 of the treaty, although largely directed to Spain, invited any other nations "who may have received injuries from England"[10] to negotiate terms and conditions for joining the alliance.

Article 11: Pledge to honor land claims

Article 11 pledged to honor the lands claims of both nations forever into the future, with the United States guaranteeing full support of France's current land claims and any lands it acquired during the war against all other nations and France, in turn, pledged support for the American land claims and guaranteed to help preserve the country's "liberty, Sovereignty, and Independence absolute, and unlimited, as well in Matters of Government as commerce."[10]

Article 12–13: Effective dates of the treaty, ratification, and signing delegates

Article 12 establishes the agreement as a conditional treaty that would take effect only upon a declaration of war between France and Britain, and it made the land, and diplomatic guarantees laid out in the treaty dependent upon the completion of the American Revolutionary War and a peace treaty that formally establishes each nation's land possessions.[10]


On February 6, 1778, Benjamin Franklin and the two other commissioners, Arthur Lee and Silas Deane, signed the treaty on behalf of the United States and Conrad Alexandre Gérard signed on behalf of France.


Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown by John Trumbull, 1820
Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown by John Trumbull, 1820

On March 17, 1778, four days after a French ambassador informed the British government that France had officially recognized the United States as an independent nation with the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and the Treaty of Alliance, Great Britain declared war on France, thereby engaging that nation in the American Revolutionary War.[9] French entry into the war would lead to further escalation of the war when Spain entered the fight against Britain as France's ally, after the signing of the Treaty of Aranjuez on April 12, 1779, and again in December 1780 when Britain declared war on the Dutch Republic after seizing a Dutch merchant ship they claimed was carrying contraband to France during the Affair of Fielding and Bylandt.[11]

After the signing of the treaty French supplies of arms, ammunition, and uniforms proved vital for the Continental Army,[8] while their actions in the Anglo French War of 1778-83 in the West Indies and elsewhere forced Britain to redeploy troops and naval units away from the North American colonies to secure their holdings.[9] French involvement in the war would prove to be exceedingly important during the Siege of Yorktown when 10,800 French regulars and 29 French warships, under the command of the Comte de Rochambeau and Comte de Grasse respectively, joined forces with Gen.George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette to obtain the surrender of Lord Cornwallis's Southern army, and effectively bringing an end to the fighting on the North American mainland for the remainder of the war. Despite efforts by Britain to negotiate separate treaties with their opponents in the American Revolutionary War, Spain, France, and the United States held together during their negotiations with Britain and concluded hostilities by signing the 1783 Treaty of Paris.[8]

Deteriorating relations

Almost immediately after the signing of the 1783 Treaty of Paris, Americans began to question whether the failure of the treaty to note an end date of the military alliance meant that the treaty continued indefinitely into the future, and in effect created a perpetual alliance between the United States and France.[12] Those Americans who disliked the proposition of being eternally tied to France, most notably the Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and his supporters in the Federalist Party, seized on the French Revolution as a chance to officially nullify the treaty.[12] Despite a consensus of European monarchs who considered the treaty nullified by the execution of King Louis XVI during the French Revolution, President George Washington sided with his Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and declared the treaty would remain in effect, despite the regime change in France.[8]

Although the Washington Administration had declared that the treaty remained valid, President Washington's formal Proclamation of Neutrality, and the subsequent Neutrality Act of 1794, effectively invalidated the military provisions of the treaty and touched off a period of increasingly deteriorated relations between the two nations. The efforts of the new French Minister Edmond-Charles Genêt to raise militias and privateers to attack Spanish lands and British warships, during the Citizen Genet Affair and despite Washington's pledge of neutrality, turned public opinion against the French and led to the resignation of Thomas Jefferson, a longtime supporter of the French cause, as Secretary of State.[12] In turn, the signing of Treaty of London of 1794, or Jay's Treaty, convinced many of the French people that the United States were traitors who had surrendered to British demands and abandoned them, despite the assistance they had provided the United States in their own fight for independence during the American Revolutionary War.[12]

The alliance was further attacked in President Washington's Farewell Address, in which he declared that the United States was not obligated to honor the military provisions of the treaty, and furthermore warned Americans of the dangers of the same kind of permanent alliances that the United States was currently engaged in with France, as a result of the Treaty of Alliance. The growing public sentiment against the treaty culminated during the Presidency of John Adams, in the official annulment of the treaty by the United States Congress on July 7, 1798[13] after France's refusal to receive American envoys, and normalize relations, during the XYZ Affair.[12] The waging of an undeclared war against France, known as the Quasi-War, by the Adams Administration in retaliation for French seizures of American naval vessels during the French Revolutionary Wars, effectively made the Treaty of Alliance a mockery, as it represented an official declaration of military alliance, maintained solely by the French government, between two nations who were unofficially at war with each other.

The end of the Treaty of Alliance

Despite the deteriorated relations, and the previously stated official and mutual public sentiment against the alliance, it would not be until September 30, 1800, that the treaty would officially be absolved by both signing parties with the signing of the Treaty of Mortefontaine, or Convention of 1800, and the Franco-American Alliance that began in 1778 was ended.[8]


  1. ^ Preamble to Treaty of Alliance. "particularly in case Great Britain in Resentment of that connection and of the good correspondence which is the object of the [Treaty of Amity and Commerce], should break the Peace with France, either by direct hostilities, or by hindering her commerce and navigation, in a manner contrary to the Rights of Nations, and the Peace subsisting between the two Crowns."
  2. ^ Treaties of 1778 Between the United States and France
  3. ^ The XYZ Affair and the Quasi-War with France, 1798–1800 SS Dept of State, via
  4. ^ "A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774–1875". Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  5. ^ Simms, Brendan. Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire. London, 2007. pp. 502–31
  6. ^ Longmate, Norman. Island Fortress: The Defense of Great Britain, 1604–1945. Pimlico, 1991. pp. 183–85
  7. ^ a b Model Treaty (1776), US Dept of State, via
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j French Alliance, French Assistance, and European diplomacy during the American Revolution, 1778–1782 US Dept of State via
  9. ^ a b c "Perspective On The French-American Alliance". Archived from the original on January 20, 2009. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h "Avalon Project: Treaty of Alliance Between The United States and France; February 6, 1778". Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  11. ^ Edler 2001, pp. 163–166
  12. ^ a b c d e "French-American Relations in the Age of Revolutions: From Hope to Disappointment (1776–1800)". Archived from the original on October 3, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  13. ^ "The United States Statutes at Large". Retrieved January 27, 2012.

Further reading

  • Hoffman, Ronald; Albert, Peter J., eds. Diplomacy and Revolution : the Franco–American Alliance of 1778 (Charlottesville: Univ. Press of Virginia, 1981); ISBN 978-0-8139-0864-9.
  • Ross, Maurice. Louis XVI, Forgotten Founding Father, with a survey of the Franco–American Alliance of the Revolutionary period (New York: Vantage Press, 1976); ISBN 978-0-533-02333-2.
  • Corwin, Edward Samuel. French Policy and the American Alliance of 1778 (New York: B. Franklin, 1970).
This page was last edited on 21 August 2020, at 14:56
Basis of this page is in Wikipedia. Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported License. Non-text media are available under their specified licenses. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. WIKI 2 is an independent company and has no affiliation with Wikimedia Foundation.