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Saber and Scroll

Abstract

The Founding Fathers knew that to defeat Britain they needed the help of another foreign power to provide money, arms, provisions, troops, naval power, and, most importantly, international recognition as an independent nation. To achieve the goal of a diplomatic, commercial, and military foreign alliance, Congress courted several nations of Europe whose interests in supporting America were known. The problem for Congress was that foreign recognition and allegiance against Britain was not automatic. France in particular needed proof of American commitment and military capability before it committed itself to support the new republic. Diplomatic treaty negotiations during the Revolutionary War held an intrinsically symbiotic bond with that of military achievement on the battlefield, and vice versa. While diplomatic and military policy were often subservient to the ministries of government, those policies frequently determined the fate of the respective ministry enforcing them, as the British ministry found out in early 1783.

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