General Washington's 1778 Valley Forge
Alliance Day Proclamation

The Treaty of Alliance between France and the United States was concluded at Paris, 6 February 1778. No one could have appreciated more what the French open participation meant to the war than General George Washington. The general, at his winter camp at Valley Forge (PA) learned 13 April of the initial signing of the Alliance treaty that took place in Paris, and was now on its way to be ratified by the US Congress. On 5 May, General George Washington issued the following general order:

"It having pleased the Almighty Ruler of the universe to defend the course of the United States, and finally raise up a powerful friend among the princes of the earth, to establish our Liberty and Independence upon a lasting foundation, it becomes us to set apart a day for gratefully acknowledging the Divine goodness, and celebrating the important event which we owe to His Divine interposition. The several brigades are to assemble for this purpose at nine o'clock tomorrow morning, when their chaplains will communicate the information contained in the postscript of the Pennsylvania Gazette of the 2nd instant, and offer up a thanksgiving and deliver a discourse suitable to the event. At half past ten o'clock a cannon will be fired which is to be a signal for the men to be under arms. The Brigade Inspectors will then inspect their dress and arms, and form the battalions according to the instructions given them, and announce to the commanding officers of the brigade that the battalions are formed. The commanders of brigades will then appoint the field officers to the battalions, after which each battalion will be ordered to load and ground their arms. At half past seven o'clock a second cannon will be fired as a signal for the march; upon which the several brigades will begin their march by wheeling to the right by platoons, and proceed by the nearest way to the left of their ground by the new position. This will be pointed out by the Brigade Inspectors. A third signal will then be given, on which there will be a discharge of thirteen cannon; after which a running fire of the infantry will begin on the left of the second line and continue to the right. Upon a signal given, the whole army will huzza, 'Long Live the King of France.' The artillery then begins again and fires thirteen rounds; this will be succeeded by a second general discharge of musketry, in running fire, and a huzza, 'Long Live the Friendly European Powers.' The last discharge of thirteen pieces of artillery will be given, followed by a general running and huzza, 'The American States.'"

Washington's exuberance upon the arrival of the good news extended even to pardoning two soldiers awaiting execution in camp -- An unusual act by this Commander-in-Chief who rarely reversed his courts martial decisions.

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