History >> American Revolution
The American colonists did not fight the Revolutionary War for independence from Britain by themselves. They had allies who helped them by providing aid in the form of supplies, weapons, military leaders, and soldiers. These allies played a major role in helping the colonists to gain their independence.
Who helped the Americans in the revolution?
A number of European countries assisted the American colonists. The primary allies were France, Spain, and the Netherlands with France giving the most support.
Why did they want to help colonists?
European nations had a number of reasons why they aided the American colonies against Britain. Here are four of the major reasons:
1. Common Enemy - Britain had become the major power in Europe and the rest of the world. Countries such as France and Spain saw Britain as their enemy. By aiding the Americans they were also hurting their enemy.
2. Seven Years' War - Both France and Spain had lost the Seven Years' War against Britain in 1763. They wanted to get their revenge as well as regain some prestige.
3. Personal Gain - The allies hoped to regain some of the territory they had lost during the Seven Years' War as well as gain a new trade partner in the United States.
4. Belief in Freedom - Some people in Europe related to the American fight for independence. They wanted to help free them from British rule.
Battle of Virginia Capes by V. Zveg
The primary ally for the American colonies was France. At the start of the war, France helped by providing supplies to the Continental Army such as gunpowder, cannons, clothing, and shoes.
In 1778, France became an official ally of the United States through the Treaty of Alliance. At this point the French became directly involved in the war. The French navy entered the war fighting off the British along the American coast. French soldiers helped to reinforce the continental army at the final battle of Yorktown in 1781.
The Spanish also sent supplies to the colonies during the Revolutionary War. They declared war on Britain in 1779 and attacked British forts in Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi.
Another ally was the Netherlands which provided loans to the United States and declared war on Britain. Other European countries such as Russia, Norway, Denmark, and Portugal supported the United States against Britain in a more passive way.
Impact of the Allies on the War
Most historians agree that without outside help the colonists likely would not have won the war. The assistance by France especially was crucial in putting an end to the war.
Interesting Facts about American Allies in the Revolutionary War
- Benjamin Franklin served as the ambassador to France during the war. His work in securing French help had a major impact on the outcome of the war.
- The French government went into debt over the war which was later considered one of the major causes of the French Revolution in 1789.
- The main ally for the British during the war was Germany. Britain hired German mercenaries called Hessians to fight for them against the colonists.
- One of the key generals in the Continental Army was the Frenchman Marquis de Lafayette.
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History >> American Revolution