When the United States Spoke French: Five Refugees Who Shaped a Nation

When the United States Spoke French: Five Refugees Who Shaped a Nation

Language: English

Pages: 512

ISBN: 0143127454

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

“A bright, absorbing account of a short period in history that still resounds today.” —Kirkus Reviews

Beautifully written and brilliantly argued, When the United States Spoke French offers a fresh perspective on the tumultuous years of America as a young nation, when the Atlantic world’s first republican experiments were put to the test. It explores the country’s formative period from the viewpoint of five distinguished Frenchmen who took refuge in America after leaving their homes and families in France, crossing the Atlantic, and landing in Philadelphia. Through their stories, we see some of the most famous events of early American history in a new light—from the battles with Native Americans on the western frontier to the Haitian Revolution, the Whiskey Rebellion to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.













Mississippi near New Orleans: “Eighty men and a captain are charged with the defense of these different forts, which would require at least a thousand.”21 Collot’s map of the Mississippi River. On the other hand, the strategic value of Saint Louis greatly impressed Collot. It was located across the river from the former Native American city of Cahokia, at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers; few towns on the continent were better situated. “This place will be, en grand,

Mar. 5, 1794, and Branson, Fiery Frenchified Dames, 67; Southwark Theatre: Robert C. Alberts, The Golden Voyage: The Life and Times of William Bingham, 1752–1804 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1969), 241. 22. Genet to Lebrun, June 19, 1793, CFM, 217–18; “Philadelphia, August, 1793. All Able Bodied Seamen Who Are Willing to Engage in the Cause of Liberty, and in the Service of the French Republic, Will Please to Apply to the French Consul, at No. 132, North Second-Street” (n.p., n.d.). 23. Theater

NETWORKS AND POLITE ATLANTIC SPACES 1. Lansdowne to Washington, Mar. 2, 1794, Lansdowne folder, case 9, box 33, Gratz Autograph Collection, HSP. 2. J. Cuthbert Jun. to Benjamin Rush, Feb. 19, 1794, and Benjamin Vaughan to Benjamin Rush, Feb. 20, 1794, Rush Papers, HSP; Benjamin Vaughan to John Vaughan, Feb. 20, 1794, and Feb. 27, 1794, Madeira-Vaughan Collection, APS (photostat copy in Gratz Autograph Collection, case 8, box 19, HSP); Angelica Church to Elizabeth Hamilton, Feb. 4, 1794, PAH,

still-smoldering city of Cap-Français in Saint Domingue to pick up desperate refugees fleeing the island. As the “Ship of Death” cruised out of Saint Domingue and north along the North American coast—past the Outer Banks of the Carolinas, past the majestic entrance to the Chesapeake Bay, past Cape Henlopen on the tip of the Delaware River and into the Delaware Bay—the mosquitoes down below continued their deadly work. Finally, the Hankey docked along the wharves of Philadelphia’s northern

Pennsylvania land—roughly one-seventh of the state. Their landholdings were princely, even by the standards of French aristocrats, but both men were wildly overleveraged and looking for investors to share the financial burdens. When Noailles had arrived in Philadelphia some two years earlier, it was a perfect match. Morris and Nicholson persuaded him to partner with them, and together they organized the colony of Asylum as a refuge for French émigrés.4 Le Grand Barbet, the breed of Liancourt’s

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