A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America

The majority of the guns fired on the British at Saratoga were French. Four years later, when the British set down their muskets at Yorktown, they surrendered to forces that were nearly equal parts French and American, all of them fed and clothed and paid by France, and protected by de Grasse’s fleet. Without French funds the Revolution would have collapsed; by a conservative estimate, America’s independence cost France more than 1.3 billion livres, the equivalent of $13 billion today.

There are people whose defects become them, and others who are ill served by their good qualities. —La Rochefoucauld