Common Interests, Common Goals; A History of Friendship. France and the U.S. (Part 1)

The friendship between North Americans and French citizens predates the creation of the United States of America. Before the thirteen colonies unified to throw off the yoke of British control French traders had long established relationships with many Native American tribes, from the bustling port of New Orleans to the snowy lands of Quebec in modern day Canada.

The French explorer Jacques Cartier left the northwest coast of France in spring 1534 headed for the New World. He arrived off the coast of Newfoundland and was the first European to map the gulf of Saint Lawrence. He and his crew sailed the inlet, hopelessly looking for a passage to Asia. Yet, before returning to France in September of the same year, Cartier traded with the friendly Micmac tribe on the Gaspé Peninsula.1

In the 1660’s Louis XIV offered protection to the area of Canada called New France sending “more than 3000 colonists … including a due proportion of girls of marriageable age” to grow the colony.2  This influx of people, and new families contributed to territory expansion, even south of the Great Lakes into modern day USA.

Shortly thereafter, in 1718,

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, founds New Orleans along the Mississippi River. This trade-friendly location later becomes the capital of the French colony of Louisiana and shapes the future of the United States as a headquarters for commercial land development.3

Just a generation later, in 1775, France secretly sent supplies to Revolutionary colonists who sought freedom from British oppression in the 13 colonies. The generosity of France helped the Revolutionary Americans defeat their British overlords, and weaken the British empire. Early French participation in the war was not direct. Instead King Louis XVI fought alongside the revolutionaries in what some might call a proxy war against Britain. Silas Deane, Benjamin Franklin, and Arthur Lee spent years in France seeking aid, and French strategists took “vacations” to help the fledgling Revolutionary forces coordinate goods and troop movements. Following the Battle of Saratoga (in modern day New York) France officially recognized the United States as an independent nation.4


  4. The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People p.163.

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