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Primary Documents in American History

Treaty of Alliance with France

Benjamin Franklin L.L.D. - envoy from the American Congress to the French Court Benjamin Franklin L.L.D. - envoy from the American Congress to
the French Court
.
1 print : engraving. 1780.
Prints & Photographs Division.
Reproduction Number:
LC-USZ62-45256

The Treaty of Alliance with France was signed on February 6, 1778, creating a military alliance between the United States and France against Great Britain. Negotiated by the American diplomats Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee, the Treaty of Alliance required that neither France nor the United States agree to a separate peace with Great Britain, and that American independence be a condition of any future peace agreement. In addition to the Treaty of Alliance, the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with France was signed on February 6, 1778, promoting trade and commercial ties between the two countries.

Library of Congress Web Site | External Web Sites | Selected Bibliography

American Memory Historical Collections

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation

As reported in the Journals of the Continental Congress, Simeon Deane, brother of Silas Deane, delivered the Treaty of Alliance and the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with France to Congress on May 2, 1778. Congress ratified both treaties on May 4, 1778.

The United States Statutes at Large contains the full-text of the of the Treaty of Alliance and the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with France. Twenty years after they were signed, Congress annulled both of these treaties on July 7, 1798, during the height of the so-called Quasi-War with France. All foreign treaties from 1778-1845 can be located in volume 8 of the Statutes at Large.

The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, a six-volume set, contains a wide variety of documents concerning the diplomatic relations between the United States and France during the American Revolution, including a chapter entitled "Attitude of France to the United States."

The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States also contains a large collection of letters sent by the American diplomatic team that negotiated the Treaty of Alliance with France, Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee. For example, Franklin and Deane sent a letter to Congress on February 8, 1778, announcing the signing of the Treaty of Alliance and the Treaty of Amity and Commerce.

Search the Journals of the Continental Congress and The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States to locate additional information on the negotiations and ratification of the Treaty of Alliance.

George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress

After being informed about the Treaty of Alliance with France, George Washington wrote to the Continental Congress in a letter dated May 1, 1778, that "no event was ever received with a more heart felt joy." A few days later, Washington celebrated the new alliance with France by issuing a General Order to the Continental Army that stated, "Upon a signal given, the whole Army will Huzza! 'Long Live the King of France.'

The Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress

In a letter dated May 3, 1778, Richard Henry Lee informed Thomas Jefferson that the Treaty of Alliance and the Treaty of Amity and Commerce had been signed with France early that year. On May 11, Lee wrote to Jefferson that both treaties had been ratified and published.

America's Library

Jump Back in Time: France Allied with American Colonies, February 6, 1778

Global Gateways

France in America

Conceived in partnership with France’s national library, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, France in America is a bilingual digital library. It explores the history of the French presence in North America from the first decades of the sixteenth century to the end of the nineteenth century, including French participation in the American War of Independence.

The Teachers Page

American Memory Timeline: Revolutionary War: The Turning Point, 1777-1778

Discusses the Revolutionary War during the years 1777 to 1778 and links to related documents, including the Treaty of Alliance with France.

Today in History

February 6, 1778

On February 6, 1778, France and the fledgling United States of America signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and the Treaty of Alliance in Paris, France.

Link disclaimerExternal Web Sites

French Assistance to the American Cause, Department of State

Our Documents, Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), National Archives and Records Administration

Treaties of 1778 with France and Related Documents, Avalon Project at Yale Law School

Selected Bibliography

Bemis, Samuel F. The Diplomacy of the American Revolution. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1957. [Catalog Record]

Dull, Jonathan R. A Diplomatic History of the American Revolution. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985. [Catalog Record]

-----. The French Navy and American Independence: A Study of Arms and Diplomacy, 1774-1787. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975. [Catalog Record]

Hoffman, Ronald, and Peter J. Albert, eds. Diplomacy and Revolution: The Franco-American Alliance of 1778. Charlottesville: Published for the United States Capitol Historical Society by the University Press of Virginia, 1981. [Catalog Record]

Schiff, Stacy, A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America. New York: Henry Holt, 2005. [Catalog Record]

Stinchcombe, William C. The American Revolution and the French Alliance. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1969. [Catalog Record]

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  October 29, 2013
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