France and the United States signed the first two treaties ever negotiated by the American government, and which formally recognised the independence of the United States.

Keen to exact revenge on Britain for the Seven Years’ War, France had begun to send secret military aid to the American Continental Army even before the Continental Congress declared independence. With French finance and equipment coming in through the fictitious Roderigue Hortalez and Company, founding Father John Adams began to draft a possible future treaty with France. Confident of securing a formal alliance with King Louis XVI, the Continental Congress sent a delegation to France under Benjamin Franklin in late 1776.

Franklin first met with the French Foreign Minister, Comte de Vergennes, on 28 December where he sought to obtain further French support for the fledgling American government. However, he struggled to secure a formal alliance due to French concerns over recent British victories in the New York and New Jersey campaign.

The British defeat at the Battle of Saratoga in October the following year caused the French government to reconsider their position and reopen talks with the United States. These negotiations led to the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and the Treaty of Alliance.

Signed in Paris on 6 February 1778, the first of these documents formally recognised the independence of the United States and established a trading relationship that defied the Navigation Acts which had restricted colonial trade to England. The Treaty of Alliance was consequently signed to provide mutual military support in case the Treaty of Amity and Commerce caused Britain to break its existing peace agreement with France and go to war.

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