Benjamin Franklin signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and the Treaty of Alliance with France in 1778. The first treaty formally recognized the United States as an independent nation and the latter created an alliance with France against Great Britain. It could be argued Franklin, who enjoyed immense popularity in France, single handedly won the Revolution by securing the assistance of French Foreign Minister Comte de Vergennes despite General Washington's defeats in New York during the early campaigns of the war.
Between 1778 and 1782 the French supplied arms, equipment and troops in support of the United States. The most infamous was the Marquis of Lafayette, a close friend of Washington. It is estimated France supplied approximately 12,000 soldiers and 32,000 sailors in support of the American war effort. One of France's major contributions was defeating the British Royal fleet around Yorktown, allowing for an effective blockade and ensuring the surrender of General Cornwallis.
The loans supplied by France were key to the fledging United States government which did not have a concrete way of raising funds for the war effort. The loans provided the economic ability to pay for goods and services of the colonists. Many in the colonies were in favor of independence, but there were also some who were undecided. The work of building ships, making uniforms and food still had to be paid. The French loans enabled the government to pay for these provisions.