In a web exclusive, John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” wished us a Happy July 4th and explains, as only a Brit could, what America has missed since “unceremoniously kicking Britain out 240 years ago.” “But the thing Americans are really missing out on is pessimism. Americans are optimistic people who believe the …
Tag: 4th of July
Jul 04 2010
In the USA, we tend to selectively omit (or at least not accurately reflect) true historical facts in our collective understanding of history.
Our revolution being funded by King Louis XVI and the French monarchy is not the first thought we have when we watch fireworks on the 4th of July. Nor do we think of the direct causal effect of American War funding with King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette losing their lives due to US war funding bankrupting France… but let’s revisit our history.
The French government regarded the American revolution as an opportunity to weaken the British empire. Since its defeat in the Seven Years’ War, France had been rebuilding its military power and mending diplomatic fences.
Humbling the arrogant British would be sweet revenge and would have the practical advantage of evening out the balance of power in Europe.
The French foreign minister, Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes, saw the potential advantages of aiding the American rebels. A prudent statesman, he would not lightly risk the possibility of a disastrous war with Britain. Differences of opinion within the French government also inclined him to caution.
King Louis XVI was dubious about helping enemies of a monarch with whom he was at peace. The Comptroller General of Finances, Baron Turgot, passionately declared that a war with Britain would push France into bankruptcy.
Vergennes persuaded the King and his fellow ministers to agree to a policy that he considered both practical and safe, providing covert assistance to the Americans. A sum of 1 million livres was set aside for this purpose.