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France & Spain against England in the American Revolutionary War

After the victory at Saratoga, the French opened negotiations seriously, not because they now thought the Americans could win, but because they feared that the British government would retaliate and make the Americans an irresistible peace offer and end the war. An independent america would disappear, and a reunited British empire would pose a real threat to France.

France was not widely respected in America prior to making a treaty with the colony. It was suspected that France had territorial ambitions, and there was still anger over the French role in the French and Indian War:

There was an American stereotype of the Frenchman--a mincing, affected dandy, not much good for man's work. If this hypothetical Frenchman took to diplomacy, he was wily and not to be trusted.

There was also a strong feeling remaining of kinship between America and the British. Yet, the alliance with France was seen as a necessity.

As the war progressed, the capitals of Europe watched with interest and tried to develop ways of making political gain from the conflict. The European powers tried to deal with the Revolutionary War through diplomacy, and while these are often thought of as peace efforts or mediation efforts, in fact for each, termination of the war was only one factor in a complication equation involving what each country valued the most. Spain had clear aims in the war--first, securing Gibraltar from the British, and second, gaining exclusion navigation rights on the mississippi River, the return of Florida, and control of the Gulf of Mexico. France wanted to weaken Britain.

While it has been believed by many that the American victory at Saratoga was responsible for the French decision to enter the war, some historians dispute this and find that the importance of this victory has been exaggerated. Certain documents circulated in France indicate that a French war with Britain was inevitable and that such a war would best b...

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France & Spain against England in the American Revolutionary War. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 00:06, August 20, 2017, from
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