College of Arts and Sciences


Master of Arts in History - Thesis (MA)


D. Jonathan White


George Washington, France, Franco-American alliance, Colonial, American Revolution, Seven Years War, French and Indian War, Enlightenment, Slavery, Lafayette




This thesis looks at how George Washington was able to overcome his personal animosity towards France and ally himself with them during the American Revolution. This animosity originates with Washington’s early interactions with the French during the French and Indian War. It examines how the events during Washington first miliary mission and journey to Fort Le Boeuf, his first military conflict and surrender at Jumonville Glenn, and his service under General Braddock all helped develop that animosity. However, the overcoming of these early negative feelings for Washington was the culmination of three key factors. The first major guiding force was Washington’s pragmatic need for external aid. The second was the positive behavior and attitudes of Lafayette and Duportial. The final reason was that Washington’s personal beliefs and paradigm were influenced by the Enlightenment which caused him to rethink his views of France. Had Washington not been able to fight alongside the French, the American Revolution might have ended differently. His acceptance of this alliance is a core causality in the emergence of the United States of America.

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