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====Secret Committee created to Communicate with Potential Allies====
American colonists hoped for possible French aid in their struggle against British forces. The Continental Congress established the
[[What was the purpose of the Committee of Secret Correspondence during the American Revolution?|Secret Committee of Correspondence ]] to publicize the American cause in Europe. Committee member Benjamin Franklin wrote to contacts in France with encouraging accounts of colonial resistance. The French had suffered a defeat by the British during the Seven Years’ War and had lost North American territory under the 1763 Treaty of Paris. As the French and the British continued to vie for power in the 1770s, French officials saw an opportunity in the rebellion of Britain’s North American colonies to take advantage of British troubles. Through secret agents, the French Government began to provide clandestine assistance to the United States, much of which they channeled through American trader Silas Deane.
As the members of the Continental Congress considered declaring independence, they also discussed the possibility and necessity of foreign alliances and assigned a committee to draft a Model Treaty to serve as a guide for this work. After Congress formally declared independence from Great Britain in 1776, it dispatched a group of several commissioners led by Benjamin Franklin to negotiate an alliance with France. When news of the Declaration of Independence and the subsequent British evacuation of Boston reached France, French Foreign Minister Comte de Vergennes decided in favor of an alliance. However, once news of General George Washington’s defeats in New York reached Europe in August of 1776, Vergennes wavered, questioning the wisdom of committing to a full alliance.
With the consent of Vergennes, U.S. commissioners entered negotiations with Britain to end the war, and reached a preliminary agreement in 1782. Franklin informed Vergennes of the deal and also asked for an additional loan. Vergennes did complain about this instance but also granted the requested loan despite French financial troubles. Vergennes and Franklin successfully presented a united front despite British attempts to drive a wedge between the allies during their separate peace negotiations. The United States, Spain, and France formally ended the war with Britain with the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
Although European powers considered their treaty obligations abrogated by the French Revolution, the United States believed it to be in effect despite President Washington’s policy of neutrality in the war between Britain and France. The Citizen Genêt Affair erupted partially because of clauses contained in the alliance treaty that violated the neutrality policy. The Treaty of Paris also remained technically in effect during the undeclared Quasi-War with France and was formally ended by the Convention of 1800 which also terminated the Quasi-War.