How a conversation between the King of France and his advisers might have been like in 1778.
THE KING: Gentlemen, Dr Franklin continues to petition us (pester us) for more help for the American rebels. They want weapons, money, our fleet to unblockade their ports and take on the English fleet and even soldiers to stand with them against the English. What should I do?
The foreign minister: We do not know who these rebels are. There are merchants and planters and then there are ragtag workingmen, rabble from the cities and peasants from the farms.
The finance minister: We cannot afford this adventure once we start giving them help they will want and need more and the costs to us will go up. Your majesty will have to either raise taxes or cease giving things to the aristocrats -- we should worry about France first.
The ambassador: Our allies are skeptical of this revolution. The Czarina Catherine of Russia says she supports them but can’t do anything to help them. The Netherlands says it might lend them money and might recognize them but not yet. Spain says it will help us if we fight England but won’t help the Americans
The minster of war: These rebels probably can’t win, maybe not even with our help. They control only one of the five coastal cities (Boston) and that because the English left and it is the northernmost of the cities. The English control three (Savannah, Charleston and New York). And the so called capital seesaws back and forth between the two forces (Philadelphia). When the rebels win a town they then lose it or leave it.
The General: These revolutionaries are untrained. They wouldn’t know what to do with weapons if we gave them anything but the most elementary of rifles. They have no army just what are called militias who turn and run whenever the English stand and shoot.
The King’s Attorney: They have no government to recognize. There are 13 Governors and 13 legislative bodies and innumerable committees of correspondence and local councils. They come together in a Continental Congress but it talks and has no power.
The Cardinal: Their radical ideas and writings by men like Paine and Jefferson, Deists who don’t believe in the Christian Church, will infect people here in our country, and if we send soldiers they will return with these ideas, this will come back to haunt us and maybe cripple the monarchy.
The philosopher: Your majesty these Americans are on the right side of History - so should be France.
THE KING: Gentlemen I’ve heard all of you and made my decision. We will send arms to the rebels. We will send the French Fleet to end the blockades and create a level playing field. We will send soldiers to stand with their militias and train their troops so they can defeat the English. And when they create a government we will recognize it. And who knows perhaps some day they will return the favor and help France.
Louis XVI sent aid to the American rebels who in 1781 at Yorktown won their independence. (Louis lost his life during the French Revolution which was inspired by the American Revolution.) It was 163 years later when thousands of young Americans stormed the beaches of Normandy and died to liberate France from the Nazis. In 1781 France was on the right side of history as was America in 1944.