GÉRARD, CONRAD-ALEXANDRE. (1729–1790). First French minister to the United States. He received a doctorate of jurisprudence at the University of Strasbourg (1749). Gérard later served at Mannheim as secretary of legation (1753–1759) and at Vienna as first secretary (1761–1766). In 1766 he was promoted at Versailles to first assistant to the ministry. As trusted adviser of the new foreign minister, Vergennes, he became secretary of the Council of State. There he was intermediary with the Americans on behalf of the French government. Signatory to the treaties with the Americans, he was selected to represent the crown in America and arrived in Philadelphia on 12 July 1778. During the period July 1778–October 1779, Gérard was minister plenipotentiary to the Continental Congress. His forceful efforts to micromanage aspects of American policies led to discontent among some members.
Due to failing health from exhaustion, he was replaced by La Luzerne and returned to France in 1780. That year Gérard was named royal praetor of Strasbourg. He participated in the Assembly of Notables in 1787 and the Assembly of Nobles of Alsace in the election of deputies to the Estates General in 1789, but he was too ill to serve his city and king further.
Meng, John J., ed. Despatches and Instructions of Conrad Alexandre Gérard, 1778–1780: Correspondence of the First French Minister to the United States with the Comte de Vergennes. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1939.
Stinchcombe, William C. The American Revolution and the French Alliance. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1969.
Strong, Ruth Hudson. The Minister from France: Conrad-Alexandre Gérard, 1729–1790. Euclid, Ohio: Lutz, 1994.