The French Arrival and Departure

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The French in Newport: An Introduction

On July 11, 1780 a squadron of French warships approached Newport.  It was not the first time the French came to Newport’s waters. The Treaty of Alliance with France was signed on February 6, 1778.   On July 29, 1778 a French squadron sailed into Narragansett Bay. It created a military alliance between the United States and France against Great Britain. On the American side it was negotiated by Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee.  This treaty stipulated that France and America would not negotiate a separate peace with Britain and that American independence would be a requirement before any peace treaty was signed. The Rhode Island Campaign in 1778 was the first French and American operation under the treaty.  This joint action ended prematurely when damage from a storm took the French out of the Campaign.

In 1780 the “Expedition Particuliere” or Special Expedition would be a successful alliance. In July of 1781 Rochambeau’s French troops would leave Newport to join Washington’s army for the ultimate victory over the British in Yorktown.

Rochambeau reviewing French Troops in America
Rochambeau reviews French Troops in America, from the Library of Congress

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