An unnamed 36-gun frigate was launched on 28 April 1778 along the bank of the Merrimack River at Salisbury, Massachusetts. Reputedly a fast sailor, she would become a favorite among her officers and crew.1
Nearly 12 weeks earlier, on 6 February, the French had entered the War of Independence allied with the Americans. In honor of this coalition, the Salisbury frigate was named the Alliance on 29 May. She would provide long and important service to the fledgling country.
A French immigrant, Captain Pierre Landais, took the helm as the vessel's commander after her christening.2 Landais had smuggled arms to America as an agent of playwright-entrepreneur-arms merchant Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais and now, through the influence of Samuel Adams was an honorary citizen of Massachusetts.3 The appointment of Landais, who had served in the French Navy, flattered America's new ally, as did the name of the frigate.