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Humpday History Highlight

By Wyatt Earp | December 17, 2008

<i>Benjamin Franklin at the Court of France</i>

Benjamin Franklin at the Court of France

December 17, 1777 - France Formally Recognizes The United States

On this day in 1777, the French foreign minister, Charles Gravier, count of Vergennes, officially acknowledges the United States as an independent nation. News of the Continental Army’s overwhelming victory against the British General John Burgoyne at Saratoga gave Benjamin Franklin new leverage in his efforts to rally French support for the American rebels. Although the victory occurred in October, news did not reach France until December 4th.

Franklin had quickly mustered French support upon his arrival in December 1776. France’s humiliating loss of North America to the British in the Seven Years’ War made the French eager to see an American victory. However, the French king was reluctant to back the rebels openly. Instead, in May 1776, Louis XVI sent unofficial aid to the Continental forces and the playwright Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais helped Franklin organize private assistance for the American cause.

It took the impressive and long-awaited victory at Saratoga to convince Louis that the American rebels had some hope of defeating the British empire. His enthusiasm for the victory paired with the foreign minister’s concern that the loss of Philadelphia to the British would lead Congress to surrender, gave Franklin two influential allies with two powerful–if opposing–reasons for officially backing the American cause. A formal treaty of alliance followed on February 6, 1778. (H/T -

And they started being rude to Americans the very next day.

Topics: HHH |

One Response to “Humpday History Highlight”

  1. Morgan Says:
    December 18th, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    And they started being rude to Americans the very next day.

    Ain’t it the truth! They got better, though, in the 1880’s when they gave us the Statue of Liberty, and then again in 1917 and in the 40’s when we came over to help drive the Germans out. The rest of the time they’ve been suffering a superiority complex, and I know that must be the case because they eat snails for gosh sake!