French Alliance Day 2016
Michael Scullin address Valley Forge French Alliance May 1 2016:
I bring greetings and salutations from Ambassador Araud and Consul General Charbonnier in Washington. As many of you know, I have participated in this ceremony several times, and it is always a distinct pleasure to return to Washington Memorial Chapel for French Alliance day.
It is an honor to follow in the steps of so many distinguished individuals who have spoken at this service in the past.
We commemorate today that date in May of 1778, when the troops at Valley Forge, after a terrible winter, learned that the King of France had entered a treaty of Alliance with the Americans. Benjamin Franklin, our adopted native son, had spent over a year in France charming and beseeching the King to intercede on behalf of the rebels, an unusual alliance in the making. Eventually Franklin prevailed, and the King’s support was won.
This news undoubtedly ignited the troops, boosting morale at a crucial time. It also meant a dramatic change in the war. Previous support from the Marquis de Lafayette had been substantial and important. But the French soon arrived en masse under the command of the Compte de Rochambeau, with thousands of troops, and matériel, and silver. Many of you know the story of the march of Rochambeau’s troops from Rhode Island to Yorktown, the scene of the final and decisive events of the American quest for independence. Admiral de Grasse and his French fleet had come up from the islands to block any British exit by sea. It is has been observed that there more French troops at the siege of Yorktown than there were American troops. Quite simply this revolution would not have ended the way it did had it not been for the support and sacrifice of the French. I recognize that as an appreciative American.
When you look at the timeline of history, you can see waves of interaction between France and the United States. The move for independence in the Americas was inspired in part by the great minds of the French Enlightenment. Likewise, Lafayette was motivated by the American experience to support gradual changes in France.
Our two countries have been inexorably linked ever since– our cultures merging, mirroring and contrasting– but when it comes down to defending individual freedom in the face of domineering government or against existential threats, the French and the Americans are united in their resistance.
The Americans, for their part, made monumental sacrifices in two wars in the 20th Century. The French know that the liberation of France and Europe began when the Allied Armies landed on the beaches of Normandy and rushed amid the crossfire and climbed those deadly cliffs. The French understand and will always remember and appreciate the price that was paid. The American and Allied cemeteries in Normandy serve as a permanent reminder of those terrible days when grief from death and destruction went hand in hand with France’s newfound liberty.
Those of you who have heard previous speakers from the group “The French Will Never Forget” know that the French to this day profoundly appreciate these sacrifices and the liberation of France from outside domination.
And with World War II over, it was with the political and economic support of the United States, under the Marshall Plan, that the European Nations were able to start healing their wounds, rebuild their economies and turn the ruins of war into the prosperity of peace.
It is an amazing observation that despite all of this fighting alongside each other, which continues today in a number of places around the world, these are two countries that have never been at war against each other. In part, that is because of their shared tradition of values and culture. And because of that tradition, those values, they continue to defend against threats, especially those of radical terrorists who seek to destroy our culture, our liberty, our freedoms, our way of life.
We have fought together against terrorism, side by side. We do so because we know from a long past that the interests of our two countries are best served when we act together.
As the French reacted in solidarity to the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, the Americans react to the senseless attacks this year, in Paris and elsewhere.
We truly appreciate this resolution, the solidarity it continues to show and its rededication to the longstanding relationship between these two great countries.
Michael E. Scullin
Honorary Consul in Philadelphia
for the French Republic
Robert Troppman address: TOUSARD’S contributions French Alliance service
Remarks for French Alliance Day
Washington Memorial Chapel at Valley Forge
May 1, 2016
The important contributions to the United States of Chevalier Anne-Louis Tousard (1749-1817): Little-known hero of the War of American Independence
On behalf of Superintendent Kath Hammond, and all of us at Valley Forge National Historical Park, it is indeed an honor to welcome you to the annual French Alliance Service.
As a historical interpreter at the park, I have frequent opportunities to inform the visiting public concerning the crucial role which France played in the cause of American liberty. Allow me to take just a minute or two to introduce one of the fine young French officers who aided to infant United States; the Chevalier Anne-Louis Tousard.
Young Tousard was schooled at the artillery school in Strasbourg and came to America in 1777, with other young French officers. He accompanied the Marquis de Lafayette to up-state New York, to meet with the chiefs of the Oneida Indian Nation, whose chief’s had just signed a treaty agreement with the Patriot government. Tousard’s organizational and diplomatic skills were in evidence when he oversaw the enlistment and movement of Oneida and Tuscarora warriors to Valley Forge in the spring of 1778. Many of us know some details of the Oneida presence at the Valley Forge encampment, but how many are aware of the important role which the twenty-one year-old French artillery officer played in this story?
Tousard and the approximately fifty warriors arrived at Valley Forge in mid-May, after an almost 250-mile march through the heavily-forested regions from the north. Colonel Tousard acted as translator for the Oneida when they were introduced to General Washington. The young French officer must have had an affinity for languages for he had studied the Oneida tongue for only a short time. The commander-in-chief told the young warriors that the United States welcomed and appreciated their help in the struggle for liberty. The artillery chief, General Henry Knox, then ordered thirteen of his guns to salute our new allies. Tousard accompanied General Lafayette, the Oneida warriors and over 2,000 American troops in the military action at Barren Hill, where the Indian scouts distinguished themselves.
In the following year Tousard lost an arm while fighting the British in the Battle of Rhode Island, near Newport.
Upon his return to France at war’s end, King Louis XVI awarded Tousard the coveted Order of St. Louis. We are all acquainted with the role of General Von Steuben in the writing of the first United States Army infantry manual, but how many of us know that Tousard later wrote two very influential books which aided the American military: 1) one included a proposal for a school for officers that became a blueprint for the United States Military Academy at West Point. And the other was a manual for American artillery officers that became a standard in the young American army.
We salute not only Tousard, but all the French soldiers and diplomats who contributed so much in the cause of American independence.