Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1778

Franco-American alliances signed

During the American War for Independence, representatives from the United States and France sign the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and the Treaty of Alliance in Paris.

The Treaty of Amity and Commerce recognized the United States as an independent nation and encouraged trade between France and the America, while the Treaty of Alliance provided for a military alliance against Great Britain, stipulating that the absolute independence of the United States be recognized as a condition for peace and that France would be permitted to conquer the British West Indies.

With the treaties, the first entered into by the U.S. government, the Bourbon monarchy of France formalized its commitment to assist the American colonies in their struggle against France’s old rival, Great Britain. The eagerness of the French to help the United States was motivated both by an appreciation of the American revolutionaries’ democratic ideals and by bitterness at having lost most of their American empire to the British at the conclusion of the French and Indian Wars in 1763.

In 1776, the Continental Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee to a diplomatic commission to secure a formal alliance with France. Covert French aid began filtering into the colonies soon after the outbreak of hostilities in 1775, but it was not until the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777 that the French became convinced that the Americans were worth backing in a formal treaty.

On February 6, 1778, the treaties of Amity and Commerce and Alliance were signed, and in May 1778 the Continental Congress ratified them. One month later, war between Britain and France formally began when a British squadron fired on two French ships. During the American Revolution, French naval fleets proved critical in the defeat of the British, which culminated in the Battle of Yorktown in October 1781.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Elizabeth becomes queen

On this day in 1952, after a long illness, King George VI of Great Britain and Northern Ireland dies in his sleep at the royal estate at Sandringham. Princess Elizabeth, the oldest of the king’s two daughters and next in line to succeed him, was in Kenya at the time of her ...read more

Mussolini fires his son-in-law

Wary of his growing antiwar attitude, Benito Mussolini removes Count Galeazzo Ciano, his son-in-law, as head of Italy’s foreign ministry and takes over the duty himself. Ciano had been loyal to the fascist cause since its inception, having taking part in the march on Rome in ...read more

Of Mice and Men is published

On this day, John Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men, the story of the bond between two migrant workers, is published. He adapted the book into a three-act play, which was produced the same year. The story brought national attention to Steinbeck’s work, which had started to ...read more

Austrian superstar Falco dies

The bus accident that killed Johann Hölzel went largely unnoticed in the English-speaking world, but in the Strasses and Allees of his native Vienna, February 6, 1998, was something like the Day die Musik Died. Johann Hölzel, after all, was not the name by which most of the world ...read more

Ronald Reagan born

As the 40th president of the United States, the former movie star was called the “Great Communicator” for his ability to get through to ordinary Americans and give them hope and optimism for their own future and that of their country. Despite his lifelong opposition to “big” ...read more

John Pegram killed

On this day in 1865, Confederate General John Pegram, age 33,is killed at the Battle of Dabney’s Mill (also called Hatcher’s Run), Virginia. Pegram graduated from West Point in 1854, and served in various posts in the West before resigning his commission at the start of the Civil ...read more