Spain played a significant role in the outcome of the American Revolution by providing economic support and opening war fronts to fight the British in Europe and North America. Spain’s support for the revolutionaries was a strategic mistake for its government, for it was not in Spain’s national interests as a colonial power to do this.
Neither France nor Spain helped the North American colonies to gain independence from Great Britain for altruistic reasons. Instead, both countries were eager to retaliate against Great Britain, which had become the undisputed global power after these countries’ defeat in the Seven Years War...However, Spain, unlike France, still possessed extended and rich territories throughout the two American continents. This caused Spain to cautiously approach involvement in the American Revolution. Being a colonial power like Britain, Spain did not want the seed of independence to spread throughout its own colonies; therefore the country never officially recognized U.S. independence during the time of the American Revolution. Instead, and as a result of the Bourbon Family Compact with France, Spain declared war on Great Britain in 1779, but it would never fight within the Thirteen Colonies.
Nevertheless, and despite the inherent risk, Spanish ports were opened to American ships, and Spain provided, initially by secret means through Paris and New Orleans and later on in a more straight way, financial support to the American cause in the form of money and supplies since 1776. Spanish money also financed expeditions such as De Grasse’s Fleet in 1781 and the Washington’s army on its march to the south that were decisive in the Yorktown victory. Moreover, Spain fought the British in the Spanish areas of interest, including West Florida, Central America, the Caribbean, and Europe, thereby opening several fronts which the British could not simultaneously manage, and threatening vital sea lines of communications of the global naval power.