Monday, October 19, 2009

It's Thank You, France Day

Posted By on Mon, Oct 19, 2009 at 1:50 PM

We delved into history last week to cover the NASCAR Hall of Fame picks, and today we go back farther in time, to the beginnings of the United States. Today is the anniversary of the surrender of Gen. Cornwallis to Gen. George Washington at Yorktown, Va., in 1781, which led to negotiations for U.S. independence. Kinda makes you all patriotic and teary-eyed and, of course, grateful to the French, right? Yes, the French. Despite conservatives’ kneejerk dislike of the French because they had the wisdom to not go along with Dubya’s Iraqi adventure (remember the “freedom fries” silliness?), an independent United States of America would not – repeat, would not – be here, if not for the funding, soldiers, ships, and strategies “donated” to our revolutionaries by France.

Yorktown, in particular, was at least as much a French victory as an American one, which you can read about in more detail here. Historians calculate that France gave the present-day equivalent of $8 billion to the fledgling American government during the Revolution. Needless to say, French involvement was inspired more by their desire to smack the British around than in our independence, but hey, they sure came through for the United States. Which brings up another anti-French whine you always hear: “They don’t appreciate what we did for them in World War II, we saved their asses,” etc., etc. Ask someone in France who knows his or her history about it, and they will likely point out their role in our revolution and suggest that maybe WWII means the two countries are now even.

Gen. George Washington and Major-Gen. de Lafayette at Valley Forge
  • Gen. George Washington and Major-Gen. de Lafayette at Valley Forge

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