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Independence Day in England, France and Russia

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Question: Do they have a Fourth of July in England?
Answer: Yes, but they do not celebrate Independence Day.

Here is a brief look at what was going on in other parts of the world during the American Revolution.

England: There was at least a six weeks’ time lag in finding about the Declaration of Independence because that’s how long the fastest ships could deliver the news. During the months before the Declaration and hearing about it, King George III and Lord North the head of government, expected to crush any rebellion by those “ungrateful monsters” quickly. The famous literary figure Dr. Samuel Johnson wanted the traitors condemned unheard without a trial. The Earl of Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty, referred to the Americans as “raw, undisciplined, cowardly men.” The British government hired 18,000 Russian and German mercenaries to fight the rebels and mobilized much of its industries. However, there was considerable sentiment for the Colonialists and at least nine prominent generals and admirals turned down the command before General Howe accepted it.

BTW, The Earl of Sandwich did invent the sandwich. He was a compulsive gambler and rather than leave the gaming tables for his meals, he started placing a slice of meat between two pieces of bread which became known as a “sandwich.”

In the years before the Revolution, Benjamin Franklin lived in London and befriended Joseph Priestley, the discoverer of Oxygen. By a twist of fate, Priestley and his family emigrated to the United States in 1794. Franklin spent about 18 years living in London spread over three voyages prior to the Revolution. He not only became well known there, but he met almost every important person of that time who lived in or visited England.

France: Benjamin Franklin, at age 70, left to go to France on October 26, 1776, to represent the rebelling Colonies seeking an alliance and funds. He was later joined by John Adams and Arthur Lee. Franklin was immediately hailed as a famous scientist and as “the man that tamed lightning” and became an oddity as a sage from a “backwoods” county.

Franklin found a hearty welcome from the French Foreign Minister, Comte de Vergennes and his friend and undercover agent, Beaumarchais, author of The Barber of Seville, who had already been lobbying to have France support the American Patriots. While King Louis XVI was inclined to keep France out of the conflict, Vergennes motive was revenge for Britain stripping France of most of its American colonies after the French and Indian War.

In March 1779 when Benjamin Franklin was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to France, he forbade the interception or molestation of British Captain James Cook’s circumnavigation voyage and scientific endeavor. For Franklin scientific pursuits were inviolate. However, if was for naught since Cook had been killed in February in the Sandwich Islands.

Russia: When England reached out to the Russians for soldiers to fight in America they dealt with Empress Catherine II and her Adjutant General Potemkin. Two historic figures from that time.

This is some of what was going on in other parts of the world. Some of the information in this blog was obtained from a “July 4, 1776” Special 1776 Issue of Time magazine.

P.S. Fly the flag this weekend

If you have any business or financial issues you want to discuss please do not hesitate to contact me at emendlowitz@withum.com.

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