In September, 1776, the Continental Congress, after weeks of deliberation, adopted an elaborate plan of a treaty to be proposed to France
They wanted France
to engage in a separate war with Great Britain
, and so give the Americans
an opportunity for establishing their independence.
They renounced in favor of France
all eventual conquests in the. West Indies
, but claimed the sole right of acquiring British Continental America, and all adjacent islands, including the Bermudas, Cape Breton and Newfoundland
They proposed arrangements concerning the fisheries; avowed the principle of Frederick
that free ships made free goods, and that a neutral power may lawfully trade with a belligerent.
Privateering was to be restricted, not abolished; and while the Americans
were not willing to make common cause with the French
, they were willing to agree not to assist Great Britain
in the war on France
, nor trade with that power in goods contraband of war. The commissioners sent to negotiate the treaty were authorized to promise that, in case France
should become involved in the war, neither party should make a definitive treaty of peace without six months notice to the other.
, and Lee
were United States
commissioners at the French Court at the close of 1776.
The Continental Congress had elaborated a plan of a treaty with France
, by which it was hoped the States might secure their independence.
The commissioners were instructed to press for an immediate declaration of the French
government in favor of the Americans
Knowing the desire of the French
to widen the breach and cause a dismemberment of the British Empire
, the commissioners were to intimate that a reunion of the colonies with Great Britain
might be the consequence of delay.
was then unwilling to incur the risk of war with Great Britain
When the defeat of
was made known at Versailles
, assured thereby that the Americans
could help themselves, the French Court were ready to treat for an alliance with them.
The presence of an agent of the British
ministry in Paris
, on social terms with the American
commissioners, hastened the negotiations, and, on Feb. 6, 1778, two treaties were secretly signed at Paris
by the American
commissioners and the Count de Vergennes
on the part of France
One was a commercial agreement, the other an alliance contingent on the breaking out of hostilities between France
and Great Britain
It was stipulated in the treaty of alliance that peace should not be made until the mercantile and political independence of the United States
should be secured.
The conciliatory bills of Lord North made the French
monarch anxious, for a reconciliation between Great Britain
and her colonies would thwart his scheme for prolonging the war and dismembering the British Empire
; and he caused the secret treaties to be officially communicated to the British
government, in language so intentionally offensive that the anonuncement was regarded as tantamount to a declaration of war, and the British
ambassador at the French Court was withdrawn.
Because the treaties with France
had been repeatedly violated; the just claims of the United States
for the reparation of injuries to persons and property had been refused; attempts on the part of the United States
to negotiate an amicable adjustment of all difficulties between the two nations had been repelled with indignity; and because, under the authority of the French
government, there was yet pursued against the United States
a system of predatory violence infracting those treaties, and hostile to the rights of a free and independent nation—Congress, on July 7, 1797, passed an act declaring the treaties heretofore concluded with France
no longer obligatory on the United States