02 July 2006

Why America owes her liberty to France

I guess the first show of alliance was from (get this incredible name) Marie Jean Paul Joseph Roche Yves Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette. He was 19 when he came to Philadelphia and pledged to serve without pay in mid-1777. A little over 6 months later with the diplomatic help Ben Franklin, France and America signed 2 treaties in Paris: the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and the Treaty of Alliance. France from then on recognized America as a sovereign nation, and France did much to fund our war for independence, supply us with rations, clothing, ammunition and arms. They sent literally well over a hundred thousand soldiers, commanders and officers to us to help our cause. (This according to Fils de la Révolution Américaine, and multiple studies.) Compare that to American soldiers fighting, which at it's peak was just under 50,000 and got down to under 15,000 in less than five years, largely due to mutiny and desertion.

Then add the thousands of soldiers and strategic brilliance that Comte de Rochambeau and French Admiral Comte de Grasse enlisted to our cause, plus the treaty France had with Spain to force Spain into alliance. Also, Germany was not yet a nation, but nearly every German-speaking soldier from Europe who fought for America's independence was in the service of the French Royal Armies or sent under French governmental influence (namely, General Friedrich Wilhelm Augustin, Baron von Steuben). Consider Holland joining due to Britain's attack on their fleets for daring to trade with America and France, it turned into a true world war.

5 years after France recognized America as sovereign, Denmark, Spain, Sweden and Russia followed...and then, finally, a defeated Britain. Quite a history lesson. What I think is cool is that there is a July 4th celebration in France annually at Lafayette's grave, and France also celebrates February 6th as Alliance Day.

And lastly, something LaFayette wrote to his wife, in 1777:
« Le bonheur de l’Amérique est intimement lié au bonheur de toute l’humanité. Elle est destinée à devenir l’asile sûr et exemplaire de la vertu, de l’honnêteté, de la tolérance, de la qualité et de la liberté pacifique. »
“The happiness of America is closely related to the happiness of all humanity. She is intended to become the sure and exemplary asylum of the virtue, honesty, the tolerance, quality and peaceful freedom.”

And later, to America's then-president of Congress, Henry Laurens:
« Au moment même où j’ai entendu parler de l’Amérique je l’ai aimée. Au moment même où j’ai su qu’elle se battait pour son indépendance j’ai brûlé du désir de verser mon sang pour elle. Et le moment où je pourrai la servir, n’importe quand ou dans n’importe quelle partie du monde, sera le plus heureux de ma vie. »
“At the time when I intended to speak about America I liked it. At the time when I knew that it fought for its independence I burned in desire to pour my blood for it. And the moment when I will be able to serve it, any time or in any part of the world, will be happiest of my life.”


1 comment:

sparklypixie said...

fantastic post!! wow.