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Spanish diplomatic policy and contribution to the United States independence, 1775-1783

by Emmanuelli, Loliannette

Abstract (Summary)
Studies of the future contribution to the independence of the United States frequently emphasize France's participation, whereas that of Spain is either relegated to a secondary role or ignored entirely. This investigation concentrates on Spain's diplomatic policy and contributions to the United States during the American Revolution, 1775-1783. It analyzes Spain's role during the reign of Carlos III and under the influence of his ministers, Marquis de Grimaldi and Count de Floridablanca. From 1775 to 1777, Spain supported intervention in the war and aid to the colonies. However, its policy was cautious and neutral, in a consistent attempt to avoid open confrontation with England. In 1777 Count de Floridablanca assumed the position of Prime Minister, bringing about a new phase of intervention. Even while offering limited help to the rebellious colonies, Spain was attempting to reach an agreement with England. And while negotiating the possibility of recovering lost territory from her traditional adversary, Spain was looking to gain time to arm her troops and prepare for the possibility of war with the British empire. However, England's refusal to accept the conditions led Spain to join France during this conflict and on June 22, 1779, Spain declared war on England. Even then, Spain was not inclined to favor the British colonies' cause of independence. The decision to declare war was motivated more by the desire to avenge the countless humiliations inflicted by Britain. Although the policy carried out by Spain during this conflict was ambiguous, this was due to a large extent, not to Spain's inability to take a position, but rather to a directed strategy. Spain hoped to recover lost territory, control the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, and build its prestige in Europe and America, while maintaining an image of integrity. The Spanish territories in America played a critical role during the American Revolution. Cuba, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, and Louisiana, helped to meet some of the indispensable needs of the United States' independence. Spain's aid, though cautious and reserved, made a significant contribution in money, manpower, and war supplies to the independence of the United States.
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School:University of Massachusetts Amherst

School Location:USA - Massachusetts

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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Date of Publication:01/01/1990

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