ALLIANCE DAY 2003
225th anniversary of the Treaties signed in Paris
on 6 February 1778.

The above contemporary Lemire porcelain has Louis XVI presenting
the American representative, Franklin, the 1778 Treaty.

COMMEMORATIVE EVENTS IN PARIS, FRANCE
The signing of the Franco-American treaties was commemorated in Paris by a series of formal ceremonies organized by The State Society in France of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) [Société des Fils de La Révolution Américaine, Branche Française]. The SAR rules permit dual membership, and the French Society promotes membership not only in Europe, but welcomes American Resident 'Compatriots', already members of the SAR, but who might be interested in following the SAR activities in this sister nation.

The ceremonies offered participants from the United States and France to share the official Alliance Day observance. Detailed program, can be accessed by clicking on the official SAR Alliance Day website at http://www.allianceday.org. The following is a brief report:

Flame ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe
6 February 2003
de gauche à droite :
Le chef d'escadrons JEDRAZIAK, de l'état-major militaire du président du Sénat.
Monsieur le sénateur Jacques HABERT.
Le général de division de BOUTEILLER, représentant le Ministre de la Défense.
Le représentant des Ingénieurs de France.
Mr. B. Rice ASTON, President General Sons of the American Revolution.
Monsieur Hélie de NOAILLES, duc d'AYEN, président de la Société en France des Fils de la Révolution Américaine.
Le général de corps d'armée COMBETTE, président du Comité de la Flamme.

Parade and wreath laying at
Place de la Concorde

6 February 2003
de gauche à droite :
Mrs Renée EARLE, Ministre conseiller aux affaires culturelles, représentant SE Howard H. Leach, ambassadeur en France des États-Unis d'Amérique.
Monsieur Hélie de NOAILLES, duc d'AYEN, président de la Société en France des Fils de la Révolution Américaine.
Mr. B. Rice ASTON, President General National Society Sons of the American Revolution.
Le contre-amiral GUILLAUD, représentant le Président de la République.
Le comte de TRENTINIAN, Executive vice-president de la Société en France des Fils de la Révolution Américaine.

In front of
l'Hôtel de Marine.

6 February 2003
Les autorités passent en revue les drapeaux des vétérans et des associations patriotiques

 

Of additional note for year around visits to Paris: There is a published guide to visiting Paris' sites that relate to the American Revolution, many of which are pertinent to the signing of the Alliance. This is a booklet suitable for carrying while walking the streets of Paris. It was prepared by Daniel and Alice Jouve, and Alvin Grossman and is titled: Paris: Birthplace of the USA; A Walking Guide For The American Patriot (Daniel Jouve, 9 Place Vauban, Paris, 1955).

This pocket guide-book of Paris focuses on 23 locations closely related to the birth of the U.S.A. as an independent country over 200 years ago. The booklet can be ordered at the website A Walking guide for the American Patriot.

For background on the Franco-American Alliance, see the webpage The Franco-American Alliance of 1778-1800 for a brief summary and for links to further in depth material.

 
COMMEMORATIVE EVENTS IN USA
6 FEBRUARY 2003
COMMEMORATION of the 1778 ALLIANCE at CARPENTERS' HALL, PHILADELPHIA.
The program consisted of two sessions.
The morning session reviewed the importance of the December 1775 secret meetings at Carpenters' Hall between the French agent, Julien Achard de Bonvouloir, Benjamin Franklin and a few other members of US Congress' secret committees. These meetings set in motion the series of specific actions that led to the formal alliance in 1778.
The evening session heard talks by:
Mr. John A. Nagy (of the Philadelphia American Revolution Round Table) on "French Spies in the American Revolution."
Dr. Robert Selig (a principal scholar on the French in the American Revolution) on "225 Years ... The French Alliance in American History." See: text of this presentation.


15 FEBRUARY 2003
SYMPOSIUM on THE FRENCH ALLIANCE , YORKTOWN, VIRGINIA.
The symposium was sponsored by the Colonial National Historical Park, National Park Service. The purpose was to provide an overview of the French Alliance, its impact on the siege at Yorktown, and the effects of the French army occupation of Yorktown and Williamsburg in the months following the siege. Four distinguished scholars gave presentations:

From left to right: Dr. Gregory D. Massey, Dr. Robert Selig, Mme. Claude-Anne Lopez, and Dr. Samuel F. Scott.

PROGRAM:
"History of the French Alliance," Robert Selig, PhD. See: text of this presentation.
"Winning the Hearts, Minds – and the Treasury, – of the French," Claude-Anne Lopez.
"John Laurens; His 1781 Mission to Paris," Greorgy D. Massey, PhD.
"The Aftermath of Victory: the French Army in Virginia after Yorktown," Samuel F. Scott, PhD.
A scheduled 'Walking Tour of French Occupied Yorktown', Mr. John Short, Park Ranger was cancelled due to weather.


5 FEBRUARY 2003
THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION ROUND TABLE of the District of Columbia PROGRAM on the FRENCH and AMERICAN 1778 ALLIANCE , FORT MYER, VIRGINIA.
The 5 February 2003,"The French-American Alliance Treaty of 1778". The program commemorated the 225th Anniversary of the French and American Alliance signed in Paris on 6 February 1778. The ARRT was honored to have two guests from the French Embassy in Washington, DC: Major General Daniel BASTIEN, the Defense Attaché, and Colonel Patrick TICHIT, Assistant Army Attaché.

General Bastien (left) addresses the ARRT on the continuing spirit of the French-American Alliance, following a presentation by Mr. Jack Bowler (center) of the paperweight mementos with the ARRT's logo to the general and to Colonel Tichit (right).

The speaker, Albert D. McJoynt, described the Alliance's origins, motives of the participants, essential ingredients, and the nature of its duration. In so doing, the speaker countered some misconceptions and misunderstandings about the alliance that are often repeated in popular literature on the American Revolution.

The speaker made the point that the French began preparing to support a possible rebellion in the British colonies in North America from the time the 1763 Treaty of Paris was signed that ended the Seven Years' War [‘French and Indian War']. At that time, France had written off the loss of Canada, to the extent that it had secretly transferred its remaining Louisiana territory claims to Spain in 1762. Rather than intending to regain the old ‘New France', the French were most concerned about protecting their remaining fishing areas off Newfoundland, and lucrative trading and sugar islands in the West Indies. Both of these possessions were vulnerable to a highly probable conquest by the North American colonists assisted by the resources of the British navy.
Whereas the colonists had an appreciation for the British navy, they saw little need for the payment of taxes to support the retention of British troops in the colonies after the withdrawal of France in 1763. British heavy handed taxation of their North American colonies, followed by thoughtless, coercive acts against the colonists' demonstrations played into the French grand scheme to support a separation of the North American colonies from Britain. French agents kept the Paris court appraised of the state of the emerging rebellion in the colonies. Meanwhile, France launched military reforms and initiated an aggressive warship building program, while British authorities let their naval assets languish, and were slow to appreciate the magnitude of the emerging rebellion as well as the possibility of the American colonies seeking French aide.
In 1775, the rebellion reached a stage where the Second Congress sent Silas Deane as a ‘commissioner' to Paris to obtain military aid. In late 1775, the French deployed an undercover agent to hold secret talks in Philadelphia with Benjamin Franklin and a few other key members of the US Congress' special committees set up to seek foreign war supplies. By early 1776, the French began sending covert military supplies; one robust scheme was through the subterfuge trading entity of Beaumarchais' Hortalez et Cie. The 4 July 1776 Declaration of Independence was a statement not only to the citizens of the colonies, it was a response to the French requests that the Americans make an irrevocable break from England before France commit itself more overtly. By the end of 1776, French military engineers were on their way to join the US Continental Army, while Benjamin Franklin was sailing to France as another commissioner.
While the popular perception is that the American victory at Saratoga (October 1777) ‘brought the French into the war'; the reality is that France had provided about ninety percent of the gunpowder and a significant number of the muskets used by the Americans at that battle. Whereas, Saratoga certainly offered a comfortable moment for the French to commit openly to war with England, some scholars believe that the more important reason in late 1777 was that the French warship inventory had reached its long planned goal for such a challenge. France would have been more comfortable if it were joined by Spain's sizable navy, but the Bourbon sister country was not yet prepared to do so. Throughout 1777, Franklin worked closely with the French foreign minister, Vergennes, to realize the three-part Treaty of Alliance signed in Paris, February 1778. The first treaty was basically an economic trade pact that effectively recognized the united colonies as an independent political entity. The second part was a mutual defense treaty that addressed the inevitable war between France and England that would soon come. The third part was a ‘secret and separate' treaty which allowed for Spain to join the pact at a future time.
The 1778 Treaty of Alliance between France and the American rebels was of significant importance in the winning of American Independence. It provided the vital underpinning of many military operations in North America, and defined the broader, world wide political and economic aspects of the war. Effectively the treaty ended with the Americans winning Independence in 1781. However, it ‘technically' had a formal, non functional, existence until 1800. It's shadow would be resurrected in spirit during the great wars of the twentieth century.


8 FEBRUARY 2003
COMMEMORATION of the 225TH ANNIVERSARY of the FRANCE-U.S. TREATY of AMITY and COMMERCE at the THE ROBINSON HOUSE in CLAYMONT, DELAWARE.
The opening began with a procession led with the flags used by the US and France in 1778.

Program of Events:
  • An "official" welcoming ceremony beginning at 12:30 p.m., with 'General Lafayette' escorted in by an honor guard, militiamen, and a fife and drum corps.
  • Gen. Lafayette's speach was followed by a fife and drum corps mini-concert.
  • Dr. Robert Selig, a nationally recognized scholar on the Franco - American efforts of the American Revolution spoke on the Alliance.
  • A chamber music concert of French and American music ended the the program.

Kim Burdick, a prominent historical consultant in the area, was the Program Chairperson. The program was organized by The Washington - Rochambeau Revolutionar Route (W3R) - Delaware Committee (Ray Hester, Chairperson), and supported with contributions by New Castle County Council, the Delaware Heritage Commission. The Claymont Historical Society & the Darley Society provided use of the Robinson House. Dr. Selig's talk can be viewed at text of this presentation.
Report of this event was provided by Ralph Nelson (Delaware Society, SAR), who sponsors the The Washington - Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Historic Trail Association website.

A full photo-report on the event is available at http://amrevandfrance.com/w3r-de/feb08-de.htm


6 FEBRUARY 2003
COMMEMORATIVE CELEBRATION of the 1778 TREATY BETWEEN FRANCE and THE UNITED STATES HELD at the RESIDENCE OF THE CULTURAL SERVICES of the FRENCH EMBASSY, NEW YORK CITY.

Event was hosted by the New York City Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), French Consul General Richard Duqué, and Monsieur Jean René Gehan. Post opening ceremonies reception was conducted by the New York Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) and the American Society of Le Souvenir Français, The Hudson River Valley Institute, which helped to plan the event has posted a webpage that describes the program; see http://www.hudsonrivervalley.net/AllianceDay.php

Among the attendees were a number of early supporters of the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (W3R) historic trail initiative. Some shown here gathered around the comte de Rochambeau's portrait.


6 FEBRUARY 2003
COMMEMORATION CONDUCTED at the OLD STATE HOUSE, HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT

[Report pending]


3-4 May 2003
COMMEMORATION CONDUCTED at VALLEY FORGE, PENNSYLVANIA

Valley Forge National Historical Park's 225th Anniversary of the French Alliance was a series of programs that included visits to the encampment grounds, demonstrations of military marching and musket firing, panel discussions, and speeches. The overall program was a particular commemoration of the event directed by George Washington in May 1778.

Given the prevailing international political situation today, this was a particularly challenging time for the commemoration at such a ‘high visibility' national heritage site. Rumors of possible protests did not prove accurate. Timidity exhibited by some of the organizers was dispelled by the initiatives of many, including the French Embassy, the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (NSAR), and local re enactment units, which all resulted in a great success. Historical perspective and understanding of fundamentals triumphed over parochial rashness and sensational popularism. With some irony, the very celebration of the 1778 Alliance and its reception in the newly emerging nation of the United States is almost a perfect focus for reflection upon the frustrations being experienced 225 years later.

Group outside the Washington Memorial Chapel, from left to right :
H. Lynn Breaux, Ambassador to France of the NSAR; Col Stewart Boone McCarty, Jr. USMC (Ret), NSAR; Major General Daniel Bastien, French Defense Attaché to the US; (seen from the back) Reverend R. James Larsen, Rector of the Washington Memorial Chapel; Jean-Loup Archawski, commander, French naval reserve.



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Return to main webpage on The Franco-American Alliance of 1778-1800.
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This page is sponsored by The Expédition Particulière Commemorative Cantonment Society .
Page created 11 November 2002; revised 12 February 2004.