Commemorative Celebration of the Treaty 
between France and The United States of America 
February 6, 1778


The Hudson River Valley Institute inspired and helped to plan another significant event of the 225th Anniversary of the American Revolution-the signing on February 6, 1778, of a Treaty of Amity and Commerce in Paris by Conrad Alexander Gerard, representing King Louis XVI of France and three American envoys to France, Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee.

Not only did this document recognize the independence from Great Britain of the "United States of North America," it also pledged that the French would be America's principal ally should war develop between her and the British, "their common Enemy." (To read the full treaty, see

For one of the first times in recent history Great Britain would find itself isolated as it pursued what would become a world war. The Continental Congress would ratify the agreement on May 4, 1778, and war would effectively commence between France and England on June 17th when British ships fired on two French frigates off Portsmouth, England. A French fleet under Admiral Charles Hector Théodat d'Estaing would first appear off of New York on July 11th. While his efforts would fail there, at Newport in August, and at Savannah in October 1779, his successor, Admiral François Joseph Paul, Comte de Grasse, and General Jean Bapiste Donatien de Vimeur, Viscount de Rochambeau would play decisive roles in the ultimate defeat of the British with their joint victory with General Washington's Main Army at Yorktown, Virginia, in October 1781. Congress's approval of the treaty will be remembered at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, on May 3-4 with a "Grand Military Formation"; see


To track events related to the French participation in America's War for Independence and the progress of the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route, see

On February 6, 2003, the New York City Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), French Consul General Richard Duqué, and Monsieur Jean René Gehan hosted a reception at the Whitney Mansion, the residence of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, for some ninety guests to celebrate the 225th anniversary of Alliance Day.

Monsieur Duqué welcomed everyone by comparing the nature of the Franco-American Alliance of 1778 with the present and future friendship between the two nations. Regent Barbara Brinkley presided over a short program that included the presentation by Executive Director Richard White-Smith, Heritage New York, of a proclamation signed by Governor George E. Pataki proclaiming February 6, 2003 "as a day on which we officially commemorate the 225th anniversary of the signing of the French-American Treaties of Amity and Commerce and Alliance." Ms. Wilson Kimball, Chief of Staff for the First Lady, represented Mrs. Pataki, who is of French ancestry. Mr. Roland Rogers, President, New York City's 350th Anniversary Committee, read a proclamation from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg designating February 6th as Alliance Day.


Dr. Jacques Bossière, Chairman of the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (W3R) Committee, characterized joint American-French efforts to develop a W3R National History Trail as "the New Alliance" of 2003. Four members of the Veterans' Corps of Artillery honored the attendees with a saber salute. Director Joe Ryan, Living History Education Foundation, dressed as an officer in the French Dillon's Irish Regiment (Wild Geese), and Executive Director Jim Johnson, Hudson River Valley Institute, in the uniform of a private in the 5th New York Regiment, served as the honor guard.


A reception, made possible by Mr. Robert Stackpole of the New York Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) and President Christian Bickert of the American Society of Le Souvenir Français, followed the ceremony. The attendees included French Veterans, members of the DAR, SAR, Hudson River Valley Greenway, Hudson River Valley Institute, and Sons of the Revolution and representatives of the Superintendent of the Unites States Military Academy. Mr. and Mrs. John Young of the Florence Gould Foundation, strong supporters of the W3R, also were in attendance. Mrs. Brinkley summed up the evening in her message of thanks to the organizers: "nous avons fetes L'Anniversaire 225th de l'Alliance avec les plus amiables amis." And so too should the alliance of friendship between the United States and France, forged in the crucibles of the American Revolution and World Wars I and II, continue into the future.


Supporters of the W3R, including Mr. and Mrs. Young of the Florence Gould 
Foundation, stand around a portrait of the Comte de Rochambeau provided by 
Mr. Robert Stackpole.

Delaware's Alliance Day Resolution

Alliance Day 2003 France & America Feb 6th,1778 

NY Governor's Proclamation 

NYC Mayor's Proclamation

Please feel free to reproduce this article and any of the photos in it, providing credit to: Dr. James M. Johnson, Executive Director, Hudson River Valley Institute; photo credit: Chris Pryslopski, Program Director, Hudson River Valley Institute.