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Chapter Forty-Four. Diplomacy of the Revolution, to 1783

Jonathan R. Dull


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The American Revolution was the first successful colonial war of independence. This unprecedented success was achieved against one of the greatest powers of Europe, a nation which indeed could claim to be the greatest naval and financial power in the world. It was not accomplished, however, by American efforts alone. The United States received the direct or indirect assistance of a number of European states which found it to their advantage to weaken Great Britain's position in the European balance of power or to procure territorial or commercial benefits at Britain's expense. The American Revolution thus had a diplomatic impact throughout Europe, an impact much more immediate than the gradual spread of its example to the other nations of the world. The American Revolution posed in itself a question of diplomacy: were the American colonies an inseparable part of the British Empire or were they free to combine into an independent state with its own foreign policy? For Americans who came to believe the latter, the central diplomatic issue was that of procuring British recognition of their independence. This issue did not arise, however, until many months after the Battles of Lexington and Concord. The task of the Second Continental Congress, which convened only weeks after those battles, initially differed little from that of the First Continental Congress of 1774. That task was to ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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