I remember being taught both in the middle school and in high school that Croatia, then with the capital in Dubrovnik and called Ragusan Republic, was the first (or at least one of the first) country to recognize the sovereignity of the USA. Allegedly, they did that because they were expecting the US to send military help in return, to help Croatia fight against the Ottoman empire. However, as has happened in South Vietnam a century and a half later, the expected military help from the USA didn't come, and Croatia lost the war.

Is there any truth to this story? Nothing like that is claimed on Wikipedia, as far as I can tell. Wikipedia claims that Morocco was the first country to recognize the sovereignity of the USA, that the date at which Croatia recognized the USA is unknown, and it doesn't mention anything about Croatia expecting the military help from the USA that didn't come.

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    What school teaches this? Calling the then-Croatia to be equivalent to the Ragusa Republic is... well.. quite a stretch. If anything, Kingdom of Croatia existed at that time (it even included the Kingdom of Slavonia), even if not as a sovereign country. Commented Jun 19 at 9:21
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    There's so much fantasy in there that it smells strongly of something made up recently. The USA at the time had a very rag-tag "army", and could barely support themselves. The idea that anyone at the time thought they'd be capable of sailing across the Atlantic, through the British fleet, to attack the Ottoman Empire would have been seen as utter lunacy at the time. However, I could see a modern person, looking at the modern power of the USA, with complete ignorance of the historical situation at the time, might dream this up.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jun 19 at 17:41
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    Wait, wasnt the current Croatia part of the Habsburg empire at the time, without any recognization even as a land area? Afaik they conquered it not long from the Turkish back.
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented Jun 19 at 23:20
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    @T.E.D. and the part about "as has happened in South Vietnam a century and a half later, the expected military help from the USA didn't come" is pretty absurd, too. I've got to wonder if this is a troll question.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jun 20 at 14:05
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    @RonJohn Could be a troll question, could the product of a propagandist education system. Commented Jun 21 at 7:11

4 Answers 4

No, the Dutch did that

The first country to recognize the USA was the Republic of the Netherlands in 1776. A gun battery on St. Eustasius gave a salute to the USS Andrew Doria. This was not official, but informal.

Nevertheless, the British were not amused. This incident is known as the First Salute. It caused the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War, which the Dutch lost.

If you go for official diplomatic acknowledgement, that would be Morocco. Ragusa is 7th on that list.

Allegedly, they did that because they were expecting the US to send military help in return, to help Croatia fight against the Ottoman empire.

Sorry, that is completely fabricated. The USA wasn't a serious power at that time. In fact, the First Barbary War wasn't something to celebrate in a hymn.

  • That's funny. The Wikipedia article says the Dutch were second.
    – Joshua
    Commented Jun 20 at 18:37
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    True, that was the official acknowledgement.
    – Jos
    Commented Jun 21 at 0:11

This seems like a Tall Tale with a lot of historical mistakes. It confuses the US-as-global-superpower today with the historically quite weak state of the US after their inception, "presentism".

Let's go through each point to see why...

Croatia, then with the capital in Dubrovnik and called Ragusan Republic

The image below shows the Republic against modern Croatia.

(Grey is modern Croatia, Red is the historical Republic, Blue is water).

enter image description here

It's quite the stretch to claim that the Republic of Ragusa was a predecessor state to modern Croatia. It doesn't even span all of Dalmatia, most of that being held by Venice at the time.

Allegedly, they did that because they were expecting the US to send military help in return, to help Croatia fight against the Ottoman empire.

The Republic was not at war with the Ottoman Empire at the time. They had been at peace for almost 100 years.

they were expecting the US to send military help in return

With what? The US did not have much of a navy to speak of during the war, a handful of frigates and sloops, nothing to stand up to a maritime power like the Ottoman Empire. Immediately after their Revolutionary War the US had 11 ships, and in 1785 they disbanded their navy and a new navy was not founded until 1794.

The US Continental Army was similarly in a poor state and largely demobilized after the war in keeping with the US's distrust of standing armies.

Maybe some ambassador oversold the US's military capability, they did just defeat the greatest global super power (with a lot of help).

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    @Schwerm At that time Croatia was a kingdom, and the King of Croatia at that time was Joseph II, Elected Emperor of the Romans. The Republic of Ragusa was an entirely eeperate state from the Kingdom of Croatia. And whydo yu claim thet Graet Britain was the greatest globoal superpwoer at the time?
    – MAGolding
    Commented Jun 20 at 5:17
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    It would be nice to explain the colors on the map for those of us who do not have a great understanding of the layout of 18th century Eastern Europe. Blue, I presume is water, is red the Republic in the late 1700, while grey is current Croatia?
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jun 21 at 11:32
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    @FreeMan Sure thing, done.
    – Schwern
    Commented Jun 21 at 19:19

The list of countries recognizing American independence in Wikipedia cites, in the case of the Republic of Ragusa, an article from 1956 by a Jugoslav historian:

Muljačić, Žarko (1956-06-04). "Odnosi Dubrovnika i Sjedinjenih Američkih Država". NAŠE MORE: Znanstveni časopis za more i pomorstvo. 3 (1): 65–70.

(The text has been scanned with an OCR that had no Serbocroatian dictionary installed, so there might be minor errors. Also, the translation is by Google Translate using its Croatian module, which again might not be precisely the language of the original. Anyone with more understand of the languages involved is invited to correct errors.)

According to his evaluation of letters between the Ragusan consul to Paris, Francesco Favi, and the Ragusan Senate, the 1783 recognition unfolded like this:

Nazalost nije sacuvano pismo Favija dubrovackoj Vladi od 20. II, u kome je ovaj predlagao, da sluzbeno posjeti Franklina i time prizna novu drzavu, Senat mu je odgovorio (Litterae Ponentis, ubuduce skraceno Lp, 115, 65 od 19. V. 1783.) da je njegov prijedlog raspravljen, ali da jo3 nije vrijeme za to, iako je to potrebno. Tek onda kad sve drzave, a osobito Engleska, priznadu slobodu tih kolonija, moze i on poci u posjetu k americkim predstavnicima, preporuciti im dubrovacku plovidbu i moliti slobodan ulaz u njihove luke. Kao sto se vidi, Dubrovnik je nastupao vrlo oprezno, u strahu, da ne izazove protiv sebe gnjev pomorske velesile Engleske i njenih saveznika. Badava je Favi 31. III laskavo pisao o velikoj koristi, koju ce donijeti trgovina sa SAD, te se i Austrija sprema da u ime svojih posjeda u Flandriji (danasnja Belgija) sklopi s Kongresom vrlo povoljan trgovacki ugovor (N. 2795).

U ljeto 1783. otekivalo se potpisivanje mira u Versaillesu, sto je uslijedilo 3. rujna i. g. Sve su drzave vec bile priznale novu republiku. Cujmo, kako je izgledao cin, kojim je Dubrovnik de iure priznao Ameriku. Favi 7, srpnja 1783. javlja (N, 2802):

»Nezavisnost SAD konacno je priznata od sviju. Americki opunomocenici vec su primili dopis, da je Kongres odobrio mirovne preliminarne pregovore, te su posli u protokolarnu posjetu stranim diplomatima, koji ovdje rezidiraju. Ovi su im je, kako je to obicaj, uzvratili. Prema Vasim uputama posao sam k njima i nakon sto sam im izrucio pozdrave Vasih Ekselencija, preporucio sam im brodove podanika Vase Republike izjavivsi, da su i oni Zeljni, da se okoriste prednostima, koje Evropi pruza nezavisnost i sloboda amekanska. Ovo im se jako svidjelo, pa su mi odgovorili, da dubrovaéki brodovi mogu kao i svi drugi brodovi ulaziti u americke luke sigurni, da ce biti lijepo primljeni i da ce naici na sve one pogodnosti, koje uzivaju i lade drugih nacija...

Unfortunately, Favi's letter to the Government of Dubrovnik dated 20 II has not been preserved, in which he proposed to officially visit Franklin and thereby recognize the new state, but the Senate replied to him (Litterae Ponentis, abbreviated Lp, 115, 65 of 19 V. 1783.) that his proposal has been discussed, but that it is not yet time for it, although it is necessary. Only when all the countries, especially England, recognize the freedom of those colonies, he can start visiting the American representatives, recommend to them Dubrovnik ships and ask for free entry to their ports. As you can see, Dubrovnik acted very cautiously, in fear of provoking the wrath of the naval superpower England and its allies. On 31 III, Badava wrote to Favi flatteringly about the great benefit that trade with the USA would bring, and that Austria was also preparing to conclude a very favorable trade agreement with Congress on behalf of its possessions in Flanders (today's Belgium) (N. 2795).

In the summer of 1783, the signing of the Treaty of Versailles took place, which followed on September 3rd of that year. All states had already recognized the new republic. Let's hear what the act was like, by which Dubrovnik de iure recognized America. Favi on 7, July 1783 reports (N, 2802):

»The independence of the USA is finally recognized by everyone. The American plenipotentiaries have already received the letter that the Congress has approved the preliminary peace negotiations, and they went on a protocol visit to the foreign diplomats who reside here. As is their custom, they returned it to them. According to your instructions, I went to them and after I gave them the greetings of Your Excellencies, I recommended to them the ships of the subjects of your Republic, declaring that they are also willing to take the advantages that American independence and freedom offer to Europe. They liked this very much, so they replied that Dubrovnik ships, like all other ships, can safely enter American ports, that they will be well received and that they will encounter all the benefits that ships of other nations enjoy...


Not possible because Croatia became a country in 1991.

There was no "Croatia the country" or "Croatia the kingdom" before that, excluding the WW2 nazi puppet territory.

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