Our New Best Friend French Alliance Celebration

Published: April 26, 2011

Valley Forge National Historical Park to Celebrate
American Revolution Game-Changer
Our New Best Friend: French Alliance Celebration Set for May 7

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. - The thunderous roar of muskets and cannon echoed across the rolling hills of Valley Forge in May of 1778, but none was fired in anger. Instead, it signaled the joyous celebration of a young America's new and promising strategic relationship with France - in today's vernacular, BFF: Best Friends Forever.

On the 233rd anniversary of the French Alliance, representatives of and re-enactors from America's oldest allies will gather Saturday, May 7 at Valley Forge National Historical Park for day-long, family-friendly festivities.

The fledgling nation's first friends, the Oneida Indians, carried corn 300 miles to nourish General Washington's hungry soldiers at Valley Forge, then, fought beside them in the battles of Oriskany and Saratoga. Members of today's Oneida Indian Nation will encamp from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Park's Muhlenberg Brigade area and, with Continental Army re-enactors, talk about their ancestors' experiences at Valley Forge and the significance of the French Alliance to our quest for independence.

During the first years of the war, France supplied the colonial rebels weapons, ammunition and other equipment, but the February 1778 signing of the "Treaty of Amity and Commerce" brought the French much deeper into the American Revolution. This new alliance, negotiated by Benjamin Franklin and fellow diplomats, meant the full weight of the French army and navy would be brought to bear against the British.

When the news reached Continental Army troops at Valley Forge in May 1778, some 10,000 cheering soldiers fired their muskets in a "feu de joie" (celebratory firing) that will be replicated at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday. Immediately prior, Park rangers will lead informational quarter-mile walks from the Visitor Center to the Muhlenberg Brigade, at 12:20 p.m. and 2:20 p.m. Throughout the event, children can create tri-corner and French flags inside the Visitor Center.

The celebration is free and open to the public. For more information about Our New Best Friend: French Alliance Celebration 2011, contact the Valley Forge National Historical Park Visitor Center at 610-783-1099 or visit www.nps.gov/vafo. For information on other area attractions and affordable hotel accommodations, visit www.valleyforge.org.

The Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau, Ltd. is a nonprofit, membership-based sales and marketing organization that aggressively promotes the Valley Forge area and Montgomery County as a convention site and leisure visitor destination by encouraging patronage of its 500-plus member hotels, restaurants, attractions and services. The Bureau's Web site, at www.valleyforge.org, serves visitors, meeting planners, tour operators and residents.

About Valley Forge National Historical Park
Valley Forge National Historical Park educates present and future generations of Americans about one of the most defining events in our nation's history by preserving the natural and cultural resources that commemorate the encampment of the Continental Army at Valley Forge in 1777-78. To learn more visit www.nps.gov/vafo.

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