February 6, 1778 — The Treaty of Alliance with France — aka: the Franco-American Treaty — was a defensive alliance between France and the United States of America.
Formed in the midst of the American Revolutionary War, it promised America of French military support in case of attack by British forces indefinitely into the future. Delegates of King Louis XVI of France and the Second Continental Congress, who represented the United States at this time, signed the treaty along with a Treaty of Amity and Commerce at the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris on February 6, 1778.
The Franco-American alliance remained in effect until the 1800 Treaty of Mortefontaine, despite being annulled by the United States Congress in 1793 when George Washington gave his Neutrality Proclamation speech, announcing that America would stay neutral in the French Revolution.
The treaty was negotiated by the American diplomats Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee, the Treaty of Alliance required that neither France nor the United States agree to a separate peace with Great Britain, and that American independence be a condition of any future peace agreement. In addition to the Treaty of Alliance, the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with France was signed on February 6, 1778, promoting trade and commercial ties between the two countries.
Words of Wisdom for February 6, 2017
“I have made a rule, whenever in my power, to avoid becoming the draughtsman of papers to be reviewed by a public body. I took my lesson from an incident which I will relate to you. When I was a journeyman printer, one of my companions, an apprentice hatter, having served out his time, was about to open shop for himself.
“His first concern was to have a handsome signboard, with a proper inscription. He composed it in these words, ‘John Thompson, Hatter, makes and sells hats for ready money,’ with a figure of a hat subjoined. But thought he would submit it to his friends for their amendments. The first he showed it to thought the word ‘Hatter’ tautologous, because followed by the words ‘makes hats,’ which showed he was a hatter. It was struck out.
“The next observed that the word ‘makes’ might as well be omitted, because his customers would not care who made the hats. If good and to their mind, they would buy them, by whomsoever made. He struck it out. A third said he thought the words ‘for ready money’ were useless, as it was not the custom of the place to sell on credit. Every one who purchased expected to pay.
“They were parted with, and the inscription now stood, ‘John Thompson sells hats.’ ‘Sells hats!’ says the next friend. ‘Why, nobody will expect you to give them away. What then is the use of that word?’ It was stricken out, and ‘hats’ followed it, the rather as there was one painted on the board. So the inscription was reduced ultimately to ‘John Thompson,’ with the figure of a hat subjoined.”
— Thomas Jefferson recalling a story that Benjamin Franklin told him as members of Congress picked away at the draft of the The Treaty of Alliance, 1778.