POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica
by David Trumbull - July 21, 2017
Okay, I'll admit it. If it weren't for foreign intervention in America, Donald Trump would likely not be president.
I mean that if the French had not intervened in the Revolutionary War, we likely would not have a president at all. We'd likely be one of the Commonwealth nations with a parliamentary system with a prime minister as head of the government and Queen Elizabeth II as titular head of state.
The American Revolutionary War began April 19, 1775, here in Massachusetts. The war became a fight for independence with the July 1776 adoption by the Americans' Continental Congress of the Declaration of Independence. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, September 3, 1783.
As a young schoolboy, I was taught how the Americans used unconventional fighting methods and had the advantage of fighting, on their own land, for their own land. It helped, too, that their cause was just. Washington's aide, the French aristocrat General Lafayette, was praised, and the contribution of the French mentioned, but just barely. In fact, it is not at all clear that the Americans could have defeated the British without the assistance of the Kingdom of France. We also had support from the Dutch Republic and the Kingdom of Spain.
This year we commemorate the centennial of the United States' entry into World War I, on April 6, 1917. The war in Europe had been grinding on since the late summer of 1914. Just as French arms and men sent to America in the Revolutionary War may been the final necessary element of Patriot victory, so, too, the American Expeditionary Forces -- over a million strong -- under John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing, broke the stalemate of the War to End All Wars.
The popular song, "Good-Bye Broadway, Hello France," (composed by Billy Baskette, with lyrics written by C. Francis Reisner and Benny Davis) -- a huge musical hit exactly one hundred years ago this year -- made clear the connection between French assistance to the U.S. in our war of independence and America's assistance to France in The Great War.
'Vive Pershing' is the cry across the sea.
We're united in this fight for liberty.
France sent us a soldier, brave Lafayette
Whose great deeds and fame we cannot forget.
Now that we have the chance,
We'll pay our debt to France.