1780: Russian and Ottoman Empires Helped the Americans in the War of Independence

1780: Russian and Ottoman Empires Helped the Americans in the War of Independence
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical Event
  • 11 March 1780
  • The powerful Russian empress Catherine the Great helped George Washington in an indirect way, by obstructing the British blockade of the United States. It is interesting that Catherine the Great and U.S. President George Washington were actually contemporaries (they were born in a span of less than three years, and died about three years apart).

On this day the Russian Empire declared its so-called “armed neutrality” during the American War of Independence. That meant confronting the UK in an attempt to isolate the United States from foreign trading partners. Indirectly, by this act Russia sided with the United States, or more precisely – opposed the UK, which was trying to prevent the United States from becoming an independent country.

It is interesting that the measure was introduced by Russian empress Catherine the Great. Sometimes the fact that Catherine the Great and U.S. President George Washington were actually contemporaries (born in a span of less than three years, and died in a span of about three years) sounds strange. Indeed it was also a time when the Austrian empress Maria Theresa was still alive.

The decision of the Russian empress was supported by other European powers, so an entire “League of Armed Neutrality” was formed. Namely, the League was joined by Denmark, Sweden, Prussia (King Frederick the Great), the Netherlands, Portugal, Holy Roman Empire (Empress Maria Theresa) and even the Ottoman Empire.

However, it is interesting that the British Royal Navy was greater than all the listed fleets together! The League of Armed Neutrality could not seriously threaten the British supremacy at sea, but had a considerable diplomatic and psychological impact. The United Kingdom really remained quite lonely in its attempt to prevent the American independence. Most of the countries turned their backs to it, and France even gave military assistance to the U.S.

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