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     The garrison of Fort Orange on the tiny Dutch island of St. Eustatius, against the wishes of the States General of the Netherlands, fired an eleven gun salute to the USS Andrea Doria. The Andrea Doria was flying the flag of alternating red and white stripes authorized by the Continental Congress. There was no mistaking the fact that the ship represented the fledgling United States of America. The meaning of the salute given by the guns of Fort Orange was also unmistakable; such a salute was only permitted if the ship of a sovereign state was recognized. Therefore, the salute was the first official recognition of the independence of the American colonies by a foreign nation._

"The Island of St. Eustatius taken by the English fleet in 1781" by Johann B. Bergmuller
(Library of Congress, Washington, DC)

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