Alliance: "America is most impatiently expecting us to declare for her"

This is a sketch of three soldiers operating a cannon.

Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, better known simply as the Marquis de Lafayette, had a fascination with the colonial conflict brewing in the Americas. In April 1777, Lafayette sailed to North America, desperate to serve as a military leader in the Revolution, despite a royal decree prohibiting French officers from serving there at that time. Shortly after arriving, the Continental Congress commissioned him a major general and he became a member of George Washington’s staff. Lafayette hoped for an alliance between France and America, and this excerpt from a letter to his wife offers this thoughts on that diplomatic and military partnership. He wrote this letter as the Continental Army entered winter camps at Valley Forge, and the French-American Alliance would be signed in Europe in February 1778.

Excerpt from a letter, December 16, 1777.

"America is most impatiently expecting us to declare for her, and France will one day, I hope, determine to humble the pride of England. This hope, and the measures which America appears determined to pursue, give me great hopes for the glorious establishment of her independence. We are not, I confess, so strong as I expected, but we are strong enough to fight; we shall do so, I trust, with some degree of success; and, with the assistance of France, we shall gain, with costs, the cause that I cherish, because it is the cause of justice,—because it honors humanity,—because it is important to my country,—and because my American friends, and myself, are deeply engaged in it. The approaching campaign will be an interesting one. It is said that the English are sending us some Hanoverians; some time ago they threatened us with, what was far worse, the arrival of some Russians. A slight menace from France would lessen the number of these reinforcements. The more I see of the English, the more thoroughly convinced I am, that it is necessary to speak to them in a loud tone."


Memoirs, Correspondence and Manuscripts of General Lafayette Volume 1, Published in 1837. Pages 131-132.