The American Revolutionary War: Allies


Figure 1.--.

The Americans did not fight the Revolutionaru War alone. They had allies. Ironically the Allies were mostly not others who believed in republicanism and the ringing slogans of the Declaration of Independence, but rather European monarchies who were ruled as absolutist soverigns--the very system the Americans were challenging. Of course this was only true in part. The Colonists were challenging the European monsrch with limited powers and actually Parliament as much as the King. For the Europeans, it was opposition to the growing power of Britain that attracted them to the American cause. The French and Spanish saw the opportunity for both revenge as as well as gains. And French opinion beyond the Court had been powerfully changed by the Enlightenment. Benjamin Franklin as the American Commisioner masterfully played a role designed to take full advantage of Enlightenment thinking. The Dutch were different, They were a small republic, but they had also suffered at the hands of Britain's growing naval and mercantile power. Ironically, while America would gain areat deal from the Revolution, each of its three allies would suffer substantially despite the American victory. In sharp contrast, the British were fighting alone, except for German mercinaries they could pay. This was a sharp departure for Britain which usually fought its land wars with allies. Almost all of the famous wars which Britain and England before it fought on the continent were fought with allies. The Revolutiinary War was a rare exception. And in contrast to many smaller wars the British fought, the Revolutionry war after Saratoga morphed into a world war that streached Britains considerable resources.

America

The Americans did not fight the Revolutionaru War alone. They had allies. Ironically the Allies were mostly not others who believed in republicanism and the ringing slogans of the Declaration of Independence, but rather European monarchies who were ruled as absolutist soverigns--the very system the Americans were challenging. Of course this was only true in part. The Colonists were challenging the European monsrch with limited powers and actually Parliament as much as the King. For the Europeans, it was opposition to the growing power of Britain that attracted them to the American cause. The French and Spanish saw the opportunity for both revenge as as well as gains. And French opinion beyond the Court had been powerfully changed by the Enlightenment. Benjamin Franklin as the American Commisioner masterfully played a role designed to take full advantage of Enlightenment thinking. The Dutch were different, They were a small republic, but they had also suffered at the hands of Britain's growing naval and mercantile power. Ironically, while America would gain areat deal from the Revolution, each of its three allies would suffer substantially despite the American victory.

France

France was a divine right monarchy from which most Americans were grateful that the British had protected them in the French and Indian War which developed into the Seven Years War in Europe. France was a reluctant ally, but was attracted by the opportunity for revenge against the British after the stunning defeat in the French and Indian war. The prospects for American victory at first seemed remote. Franllin and Adams worked to secure French assistance. Franklin proved especially adroit. It was the stunning news of the Colonists destruction of an entire British field army at Saratoga decided the matter (October 1777). France and America signed a Treaty of Alliance along with The Franco-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce at the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris (February 6, 1778). France would be America's key ally in the War. A French fleet arrived off Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island (July 29, 1778). They supported a Colonist effort to take bacxk Rhode Island. The effort failed, largely because a storm damaged the French fleet. Even so, crtically important assistance flowed to Washington's Continental Army. The Americans succeeded in their struggle in large part because they were aided by a French monarchy that was opposed to offering the same liberties to his people that the Americans were demanding from their king. In the end, aid to American virtualy bankrupted the monarchy. This and the stirring example of the American Revolution led directly to the French Revolution.

(The) Netherlands

The Dutch were the third former enemy of England to support the Colonies and declare war on Britain. The Dutch people had favored the Colonies from the very beginning of the War. The Colonial naval hero, John Paul Jones, found refuge in the Netherlands. The United Provinces was considering involvement in the League of Armed Neutrality. Several European powers were conducting 'neutral trade' during the war. The Dutch were the most important, larfely because their Caribbean ports provided useful trabsshiping points. St. Eustatius was a particular sore point and provided much of the Continental Army's supplies. The British struck the Dutch to prevent this (1780). The result was the another Anglo-Dutch War (1780-84). This proved devestating for the Dutch. It was ruionous for their mercantil economy. As a result, the Dutch were no longer a major naval power. In the aftermath the Batavian Republic developed.

Spain

King Carlos III of Spain was a virtually absolute monarch, but he was also a man of the Enlightenment and open to new ideas. And he came to champion the American cause. Much more attention is given by historians to the French alliance and with good reason because it was key to the American victory. nd tge French fought alongside Washington at Yorktown. The Spanish alliance, however, should not be ignored. Spanish participation was also important. Here count Aranda played a critical role championing the Americans at court. The Spanish asked for Gibraltar from the British in exchange for sideing with Britain. When Briain refused, Spain declared war on Britain (1779). The Spanish both provided financial assistance to the American cause as well as supplies and engaged in military action. Spanish military actions were conducted in Europe, the Caribbean, Central america, the American South and Midwest. Wjile actual joint operations with Americanswere limited, the extensive operations against the British diverted substanbtial forces that could have been used against the Colonists. Jorge Ferragut lead military campaigns against the British in North Carolina. Benjamin Franklin is best known for his role in France, but he was also the Continental Congress' Commissioner to Spain. He helped convince King Carlos to send money, uniforms, and military equipment to the Americans. The Spanish help finance the siege at Yorktown. Bernardo de Gálvez helped divert Royal Navy units at Pensacola assisting in Washington's victory at Yorktown (1781). Combat between the Americans and British essentially ceased after Yorktown. This was not the case with the Spanish. Spanish military actions after Yorktown, helped convince the British to make peace.

Britain

In sharp contrast, the British were fighting alone, except for German mercinaries they could pay. This was a sharp departure for Britain which usually fought its land wars with allies. Almost all of the famous wars which Britain and England before it fought on the continent were fought with allies. The Revolutiinary War was a rare exception. And in contrast to many smaller wars the British fought, the Revolutionry war after Saratoga morphed into a world war that streached Britains considerable resources. Once the French came intotheWar, much more was in play than the thirteen colonies. In particulat, he Caribbean was in play and the Caribbean sugar islands were the most valuable realestate in the world. This meant that Britain could not concentrate its strengh against the rebelious American colonies.







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Created: 2:38 AM 3/24/2015
Last updated: 2:00 AM 7/5/2015