France invades the American Colonies? We rejoice? (LONG backstory)

The backstory:

At another board I frequent related to one of my hobbies (see the Hobbies thread in MPSIMS) a thread was started about a program on the history channel on the Battle for Fallujah. Someone made a comment abut how US troops aren’t being represented in the media. Politics are strictly forbidden on this board so I made a comment about how a statement like that could easily get political so we should drop it.

I then get attacked in the thread by… let’s just say… an idiot. He picks a fight with me over politics and I kindly ask him to respect the rules of the board and take it to private messages.

So some back and forth follows and it’s quite clear this guy is…let me repeat… an idiot.

Then he made this statement in relation to the war in Iraq.

“Let’s look at it another way. What if France had invaded the US prior to the American Revolution with only the pretext of liberating the colonies to govern themselves? It doesn’t matter when Lafayette sailed in, we would have welcomed him. Because they shared the same Democratic philosophy.”

… Wow. Now I’d like to respond to this in the most vicious way possible… but that serves little good… I would like to request the aid of my fellow Dopers in tearing this idea apart with simple facts. I can point out basic things that knock holes in the leaky boat this guy is in by using my basic understanding of the period… But like I said, it is only basic. I can bring up the French and Indian War or that France wasn’t a democracy but to give details, to give more indepth analysis to shut this guy up would be nice.

And I just realized that this kind of sounds like a creative way to get you guys to do my homework for me… That’s not my intention. It’s just that this is one of those online debates that is moving quickly and I’m looking for quick help.

I’ll buy anyone a coke who helps me out… next time I see them.

A bunch of English ex-pats would have welcomed a French invasion? And after fighting a vicious war with them (French and Indian War)? Somehow I’m not seeing it…even if this was prior to our own revolution. The colonists would have fought the French tooth and nail…sort of how we ended up fighting the British when they invaded. (BTW, I doubt that France COULD have invaded the US post-Revolution…not until Napoleon came along anyway, and by then France had other priorities).

You should have taken this to the pit though. :slight_smile:


Historically, has it happened before in general where country A invaded country B with the pretext to liberate B to govern itself?

In those cases,

  1. Did a majority of the citizens of B welcome the invasion?
  2. Did B end up better off or worse off, in the long run (if enough time has passed to make such a judgement)

I admit I’m not strong on history, so there may be very obvious examples of this that I simply cannot think of.

(FYI, this is likely better suiter for IMHO, in my humble opinion)

The biggest problem with your “friend’s” argument is the idea that the French government shared our commitment to the same democratic philosophy. Nice thought, but a bit early, given that France was still a monarchy and the French Revolution didn’t begin until 1789.

Is this Pit material?

Stripped of the backstory I would say it is good GQ material.
I felt the need to add the backstory to make the necessity and aim of the thread more clear.

Ahhh… you’re probably right… Then we could have said the F-word more.

First, France saved us in the Revolution. We would likely not have won without France’s sending in its navy.

Second, France did this even though it was still a monarchy and its revolution was several years in the future. Individuals like Lafayette indeed were committed to revolutionary ideals even back then. But the real reason the French government got involved was because France and Britain were at war and had been for many years. Sometimes it was “hot” war, as in the French and Indian War, and sometimes it was a “cold” war, as it was during the period of the revolution, but they were deadly enemies the whole time.

France saw a wonderful opportunity to screw Britain by coming to our aid, even though it took them close to five years to do so. The British could have continued the fight even after Yorktown but realized that the real fight was against France and fighting both France and the colonists an ocean away made no political or military sense.

Now, back to pre-1776. The colonists were mostly still pro-British. It took years of provocation to get even a sizable minority of colonists to think about rebellion. Even so, the colonial leaders spent years literally pleading with the British government to treat them just a little better so that they wouldn’t have to break away. They saw themselves as good British citizens and just couldn’t understand why Parliament and the King didn’t sympathize more. About a third of colonists kept this attitude throughout the revolution.

Given all this, what is the likelihood of our welcoming the French as liberators in 1774 rather than in 1780? Small, I suspect. The French and Indian War was as recent as Gulf War I was to Gulf War II. We - and most especially the colonial leaders - were culturally totally British. Outside of New England there was far less enthusiasm for active rebellion.

It was only the British putting forces into the colonies and the subsequent killing of Americans that drove the colonies into full revolutionary mode. It was the invasion that led to the French - the enemy - being embraced.

That’s the lesson we should be applying today.

Ahh snap! Thank you.

I have seen the belief that the French revolution inspired or affected the American one in several places. I am not entirely sure how it came about.

My mom though that until I corrected her one night after we went to Les Mis.

That’s the other way around. The American revolution helped inspire the French one.

I love to debate that we could have dragged the war on longer even without the French, but yes, the French gave us valuable support in terms of supplies, manpower, and navalpower. For example, Yorktown wouldn’t have been a success had Admiral Comte d’Grace (IIRC) and his squadron not been able to blockade the city, preventing the nearby British squadron from evacuating or supporting Cornwallis.

Also worth pointing out that in the treaties under which the French and Spanish helped us against the British, we were expected to support them in their war with England even after our independence had been secured. However, once the British agreed to recognize our independence, we were more than happy to let the French and Spanish fend for themselves (and, I understand, the British were able to clean up with their attention undivided after that).

A decade or so later, and our ships were fighting the revolutionary French in the Atlantic and Carribean alongside the British navy during the Quasi War.

Yes, I think Bandit is surely aware of this. But I’ve encountered this odd belief myself, from a French friend of mine who thought that the French Revolution influenced the American one. Or so he did until I came to his rescue anyway.

Thing is, he even knew the right dates (1776 versus 1789), but for whatever reason had never noticed their correct ordering, apparently.

There was already a revolution going on in the colonies when the French got involved. There was no revolution or war going on in Iraq when the U.S. invaded.

Also, the French gave military help to the American revolutionaries, but they didn’t take over and try to run things (even temporarily) once the British were defeated. The colonists certainly wouldn’t have accepted this, as they were fighting for independence, not just to get rid of the Brits.

France, 1944. I think it’s fair to say the majority of French citizens welcomed the arrival of US, British, Canadian, and Australian troops. And for all of France’s problems, they ended up in better shape under DeGaulle, Mitterand, et al than they would have been under a sustained Vichy government.

I think your hypothetical question applies to about a dozen other nations that were liberated from the Germans/Japanese/Italians during World War II. The Phillipines, for example, or even Italy and Germany themselves. Would Italy have been better off under the facist government of Mussollini? Would Germany have prospered if the Nazis remained in power?