"The great aim of this treaty is declared to be 'establishing the liberty, sovereignty, and independency, absolute and unlimited, of the United States.'" - Benjamin Franklin
[American Revolution]. Treaties of Amity and Commerce,
and of Alliance Eventual and Defensive, between his most Christian
Majesty and the Thirteen United States of America.
Philadelphia: John Dunlap, 1778. First edition. Quarto
(approximately 9.5 x 8 inches. ). , 10, , 12-34 pages.
Contemporary plain wrappers rebacked, original stabholes. Some
foxing to general title-page. Chemised in quarter morocco clamshell
case. Near fine.
First edition of the Treaty of Alliance with France, a milestone in American history, the first treaty between the United States and another country, and the decisive event of the American Revolutionary War. With this treaty, the United States achieved its first recognition by a foreign government and acquired the ally that helped bring it independence. "According to this first military treaty of the new nation, the United States would provide for a defensive alliance to aid France should England attack, and neither France nor the United States would make peace with England until the independence of the United States was recognized." (Our Documents: 100 Milestone Documents from the National Archives 4).
In late 1776, Congress sent Benjamin Franklin, America's leading citizen, to secure an alliance with France. The Treaty of Alliance was finally signed on February 6, 1778. Reporting the success of his mission with diplomats Silas Deane and Arthur Lee, Franklin wrote, "The great aim of this treaty is declared to be 'establishing the liberty, sovereignty, and independency, absolute and unlimited, of the United States.'"
George Washington wrote to the Continental Congress that "no event was ever received with a more heart felt joy." He proclaimed the glorious news to his soldiers at Valley Forge on May 5, "It having pleased the Almighty ruler of the Universe propitiously to defend the Cause of United American-States and finally by raising us up a powerful Friend among the Princes of the Earth to establish our liberty and Independence upon lasting foundations, it becomes us to set apart a day for gratefully acknowledging the divine Goodness & celebrating the important Event which we owe to his benign Interdisposition."
In addition to the Treaty of Alliance, a Treaty of Amity and Commerce with France was signed on the same day to promote commerce between the two countries. The Treaty of Alliance is here accompanied by the first American edition of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, which had been published by the French. The French had wished to keep the alliance treaty's terms secret until they had informed Spain of its provisions. As a result, the first publication of the alliance treaty was made by the Americans. On March 17, the British government was informed of the treaty, and it immediately declared war on France. The French sent a squadron of sixteen ships to blockade the British in America, and the British evacuated Philadelphia, consolidating their forces in New York. French naval involvement crippled the British war effort in America over the succeeding years, and proved decisive at Yorktown, where the French navy cut off the British retreat and forced the surrender of Cornwallis. Rare. Only one copy has appeared at auction in the past fifty years. Evans 16146.
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