French Immigrants and Pioneers in the Making of America


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About the Book

Americans have long had a rich if complicated relationship with France. They adore all things French, especially food and fashion. They visit the country and learn the language. Historically, Americans have also been quick to blame France at certain times of international crisis, and find fault with their handling of domestic issues. Despite ups and downs, the friendship between the countries remains very strong. The author explains the strength of Franco-American relations lies in the diplomatic ties that extend back to the founding of the United States, but more importantly, in the French DNA that is imprinted on American culture. The French were the first Europeans to settle the regions now known as Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas—and Frenchman remained in Louisiana after the land was purchased by the United States. This book explores the effects that France has had on American culture, and why modern Americans of French descent are so fascinated by their ancestry.

About the Author(s)

Marie-Pierre Le Hir is a professor emerita of French at the University of Arizona in Tucson. She has published several books and dozens of articles in French studies.

Bibliographic Details

Marie-Pierre Le Hir

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 298
Bibliographic Info: 19 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8442-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4485-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 3
Chapter I. Voyages of Exploration During the Renaissance 9
1. The Primacy of Land in the Economy of Western Europe 9
2. The Renaissance Spirit of Adventure 12
3. Verrazano, Cartier: First Steps in North America for the French 15
4. Escaping the Wars of Religion: Brazil, Florida, Carolina 18
5. Tips for Further Investigations 23
Chapter II. The Rise of the French Colonial Empire, 1600–1660 24
1. The Founding of New France, 1600–1617 25
2. New France Under Louis XIII and Richelieu, 1617–1643 31
3. French Pioneers of Champlain’s Period: Brûlé, Nicollet, De Quen, and Brébeuf 35
4. Settling in the West Indies 37
5. Tips for Further Investigations 41
Chapter III. French America, 1661–1683 42
1. Absolutism in the Making 42
2. Colonial Policies Under Louis XIV 44
3. New France Under Colbert 47
4. Exploring North America 53
5. Tips for Further Investigations 59
Chapter IV. The Sun King’s Colonial Empire, 1684–1715 60
1. Louis XIV’s Politics of Prestige and War 60
2. Royal Edicts on Religion and Slavery 64
3. New France During the War of the Grand Alliance, 1688–1697 67
4. New France during the War of the Spanish Succession, 1701–1714 70
5. Tips for Further Investigations 77
Chapter V. France’s American Colonies, 1715–1755 78
1. Banking on Louisiana: John Law and the Company of the West (1717–1720) 78
2. Settling Louisiana: The 1720s, 1730s, and 1740s 83
3. Upper Louisiana: The Illinois Country 88
4. Trouble in Acadia, 1744–1748 92
5. Tips for Further Investigations 99
Chapter VI. North America Won and Lost, 1756–1783 100
1. Decline of the Absolute Monarchy in France 100
2. The Seven Years’ War, 1756–1763 103
3. North America After 1763 111
4. France’s Role in the War of Independence, 1775–1783 115
5. Tips for Further Investigations 119
Chapter VII. Franco-American Relations in the Age of Revolutions, 1784–1800 121
1. Friends: Franco-American Relations During the French Revolution of 1789–1792 121
2. The French Republic and Its Enemies 124
3. Seeking Refuge in America: French Immigration to the United States 129
4. Foes: The Genêt Affair, the Jay Treaty, and the ­Quasi-War 136
5. Tips for Further Investigations 141
Chapter VIII. ­Franco-Americans in ­Antebellum America 143
1. Napoleon and Slavery: Prelude to the Louisiana Purchase 143
2. The Louisiana Purchase 146
3. French Guides to the Wild West 149
4. French Explorers and Settlers of the Wild West 155
5. Tips for Further Investigations 160
Chapter IX. French Idealists, Gold Seekers, and Soldiers in the Young United States 162
1. French Political Refugees in ­Antebellum America 163
2. Utopian Communities 171
3. The French and the Gold Rush 174
4. ­Franco-Americans During the Civil War 177
5. Tips for Further Investigations 182
Chapter X. The Western and the Statue: Franco-American Relations in the National Age 183
1. Becoming Minority Cultures: Quebec, the Old Illinois Country, and Louisiana 183
2. Creating the Nation: The Western, Facts and Fiction 188
3. American Francophilia in the 19th Century: A High Society Phenomenon 193
4. Franco-American Relations and National Stereotypes in the Age of Mass Culture 200
5. Tips for Further Investigations 204
Epilogue 205
Chapter Notes 211
Bibliography 257
Index 277