From Our Oldest Enemy: A History of America’s Disastrous Relationship with France by John J. Miller and Mark Molesky:

…The tale of Franco-American harmony is a long-standing and pernicious myth. The French attitude toward the United States consistently has been one of cultural suspicion and dislike, bordering at times on raw hatred, as well as diplomatic friction that occasionally has erupted into violent hostility. France is not America’s oldest ally, but its oldest enemy.

The true story of Franco-American relations begins many years before the American Revolution, during the French and Indian Wars. Lasting nearly a century, these conflicts pitted the French and their Indian comrades against seventeenth- and eighteenth-century American colonists. French military officers used massacres as weapons of imperial terror against the hardy men, women, and children who settled on the frontier. At the age of twenty-two, George Washington nearly fell victim to one of these brutal onslaughts and was reviled in France as a murderous villain for many years (an opinion sustained by French propaganda and reversed only when the American Revolution made it politically necessary). Amid this tumult, the first articulations of a recognizably American national consciousness came into being. Indeed, America’s first authentic sense of self was born not in a revolt against Britain, but in a struggle with France.

Although the French provided American colonial rebels with crucial assistance during their bid for independence, direct French military intervention came only after the Americans had achieved a decisive victory on their own at Saratoga. The French crown regarded the principles of the Declaration of Independence as abhorrent and frightening. French aristocrats viewed Lafayette with contempt and branded him a criminal for traveling to America against King Louis XVI’s explicit command. The king and his government overcame their revulsion to the young republic only because they sniffed an opportunity to weaken their ancient rival Britain. To be sure, France did become an ally to the colonists for a few years in the late 1770s and early 1780s when American sovereignty served French geopolitical aims. But then the French believed that double-dealing against their erstwhile friends after Yorktown served their interests as well. During the peace talks, France sought to limit American gains because it feared the new nation might become too powerful. If the French had achieved all of their objectives in the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the United States today might be confined to a slender band of territory along the eastern seaboard, like a North American version of Chile…

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