When America was French

When America was French

We often tend to forget it, but North America was not always Anglo-Saxon. It was even, along with India, the first French colonial empire, from Quebec to New Orleans. From the beginning of the 16th century, courageous and intrepid explorers roamed the New World, from the mouth of the St. Lawrence to the marshy delta of the Mississippi through the Great Lakes region, in search of a hypothetical passage to the east. Soon followed by settlers from western France and missionaries, they founded New France, a huge colony that then covered more than half of the North American continent.

The history of New France begins in 1524. King François I decides that it is high time to tease his rival Charles V overseas, and commissions an expedition which is entrusted to the Italian Verrazano. This one goes up the Atlantic coast from Florida, in search of a passage towards China, discovering on the way Acadia, in the east of Canada. A few years later, François I entrusted Jacques Cartier with the mission of continuing to explore this region and to found a colony there. Cartier explores the mouth of the St. Lawrence and then ascends the river, but his expedition is swept away by diseases, and he fails to establish a colony.

Entangled in the wars of religion, the French royalty quickly lost interest in this hostile country where no gold was found. The few settlement attempts that followed lasted the second half of the 16th century were hardly more fruitful, but would be rich in lessons for the expeditions which resumed more seriously under the reign of Henry IV. Comptoirs were created in Acadia, which would later be the object of a fierce struggle between the English and the French, and Samuel de Champlain founded the city of Quebec in 1608. To consolidate a precarious position and protect the fur trade, Champlain forges an alliance with Indian tribes including the Hurons, attracting the animosity of their Iroquois rivals.

Stuck in the midst of rivalry between Indians, this embryo of colonization, whose economy relies on fishing, agriculture and the fur trade, is struggling to develop due to a lack of sufficient settlers. There were only a few hundred of them when Champlain died in 1635 when the English, fleeing religious persecution, settled by the thousands on the east coast of the United States. A new dynamic is driven by a company of missionaries who founded the city of Montreal in 1639, which strengthens the French presence by adding a religious and social vocation.

The rise of New France really began in 1663 under Louis XIV, who transformed the colony into a royal establishment under his direct control and that of Colbert. A governor and an intendant are appointed by the king to administer the colony, now defended against the Indians and the English by a royal regiment. The predominantly male local population is strengthened by the sending of the "King's Daughters," a contingent of young orphans endowed by the sovereign and sent to the New World. Coming mainly from the west of France, the candidates for departure remain few. The French peasant is hardly enthusiastic about the idea of ​​crossing the seas to find in these harsh regions a lord and a priest, in the midst of more or less friendly Indians

Thus, despite these more or less voluntary attempts to immigrate, New France remains an underpopulated vastness, made up mainly of counters and military forts, and under constant threat from the English and the Iroquois. A rivalry that escalated in 1670 with the rapid development of the English colonies settled on the coast and which progressed towards the interior of the continent, trying to capture the fruitful fur trade. A tension that escalates when French colonization progresses towards the southwest with the discovery and possession of the territories of the Mississippi and the founding of Louisiana by Cavelier de la Salle in 1682, which blocks the expansion of the colonists English west.

In 1690 hostilities spread in conjunction with European conflicts. The French barely stopped the English before Quebec, but the French had to cede Acadia, Newfoundland and Hudson's Bay after the Treaties of Ryswick (1697) and Utrecht (1713). The noose tightened around New France, which, however, during the first half of the 18th century, experienced a relative period of peace and prosperity. But the local standard of living almost higher than that of the metropolis still does not manage to attract migrants in sufficient numbers to counter the English expansion (2 million English and Dutch against 100,000 French colonists and slaves from Africa) .

Faced with the imminence of conflict, the English proceeded in 1754 with the massive expulsion of French settlers from Acadia, a region that had come under their control forty years earlier. This tragic episode is known under the modest name of "great disturbance". Once the region had been plundered and massacred, the local population was deported to the English colonies in the south. Badly accepted, decimated, their families dismembered, their children kidnapped to make them good subjects of his majesty, the survivors fled to Louisiana where they went to found a colony. In their wandering, many will die of grief and misery. A formal ethnic cleansing recognized by England in ... 2003.

War broke out in 1755. Despite heroic French resistance under Montcalm's leadership, Canada was quickly overwhelmed by English troops, especially since the metropolis sent no reinforcements. Louis XV, the "moron king" to use Jean-Claude Barreau's witticism in "the roots of France", preferred to get tangled up in the uncertain 7-Year War, neglecting his colonial empire. Quebec and Montreal having been taken, the colony in English hands awaited the outcome of the conflict in the European theater. This was the catastrophic "Treaty of Paris" of 1763. In addition to India, France ceded almost all of its North American possessions to England.

Yet France, the leading European power and having as good a navy as the "perfidious Albion" would have had the means to defend its colonial empire. But unlike England for whom dominance of the seas was vital, France had remained viscerally anchored in a continental vision of the issues of the time, looking with contempt on Canada's "acres of snow". Partially recovered in 1800 to be immediately sold 3 years later in the United States by a Napoleon hardly more inspired than the 15th Bourbon, New France and its population fell to the loss and profit of the history of France. There remains Quebec of course, drowned in an Aglo-Saxon ocean, family names and city names along the missippi that resonate familiarly in our ears.

We often tend to forget it, but theNorth America was not always Anglo-Saxon. It was even, with India, the location of first French colonial empire. Soon followed by settlers from western France and missionaries, they founded the New France, a huge colony which then covered almost half of the North American continent.

First French establishments in America

The history of New France begins in 1524. The king Francis I decides that it is high time to compete with his rival Charles V in the New World, and sponsors an expedition which is entrusted to the Italian Verrazano. This one goes up the Atlantic coast from Florida, looking for a passage to China, discovering on the way Acadia, in eastern Canada. A few years later, François I confided to Jacques Cartier the mission of continuing to explore this region and found a colony there. Cartier explores the mouth of the St. Lawrence and then ascends the river, but his expedition is swept away by diseases, and he fails to establish a colony.

Entangled in the wars of religion, the French royalty quickly lost interest in this hostile country where no gold was found. The few attempts at settlements that followed during the second half of the 16th century were hardly more fruitful, but would be rich in lessons for the expeditions which resumed more seriously under the reign of ’Henry IV. Comptoirs were created in Acadia, which would later be the object of a fierce struggle between the English and the French, and Samuel Champlain founded the city of Quebec in 1608.

To consolidate a precarious position and protect the fur trade, Champlain entered into an alliance with Indian tribes, including the Hurons, thus attracting the animosity of their Iroquois rivals. Stuck in the middle of rivalries between Indians, this embryo of colonization, whose economy is based on fishing, agriculture and the fur trade, is struggling to develop, lack of settlers in sufficient numbers. There were only a few hundred when Champlain died in 1635 as the English, fleeing religious persecution, settled by the thousands on the east coast of the United States. A new dynamic is driven by a company of missionaries who founded the city of Montreal in 1639 and which reinforced the French presence by adding a religious and social vocation.

New France royal colony

The rise of New France really began in 1663 under Louis XIV, which transformed the colony into a royal establishment under his direct control and that of Colbert. The predominantly male local population is reinforced by the sending of the "king's daughters," a contingent of young orphans endowed by the sovereign and sent to the New World. The French peasant is hardly enthusiastic at the idea of ​​crossing the seas to find in these harsh regions a lord and a priest, in the midst of indiscriminate Indian.

Thus, despite these more or less voluntary immigration attempts, New France remains a underpopulated vastness, consisting essentially of counters and military forts, and under constant threat from the English and Iroquois. A rivalry that escalated from 1670, with the rapid development of the English colonies installed on the coast and which progressed towards the interior of the continent, trying to capture the successful fur trade. And the tension worsened even more as French colonization progressed towards the southwest with the discovery and takeover of the Mississippi territories and the founding of the Louisiana through Cavelier of the Hall in 1682, which blocked the expansion of English settlers to the west.

In 1690, hostilities spread in conjunction with the European conflicts. The French barely stopped the English before Quebec, but they had to cede Acadia, Newfoundland and Hudson's Bay after the Treaties of Ryswick (1697) and Utrecht (1713). The noose tightened around New France, which during the first half of the 18th century experienced a relative period of peace and prosperity. But the local standard of living almost higher than that of the metropolis still does not manage to attract migrants in sufficient numbers to counter the English expansion (2 million English and Dutch against 100,000 French colonists and slaves from Africa) .

The tragic end of French America

Faced with the imminence of conflict, the English proceeded in 1754 with the massive expulsion of French settlers from Acadia, a region that had come under their control forty years earlier. This tragic episode is known under the modest name of " great inconvenience ". Once the region had been plundered and massacred, the Acadians were deported to the English colonies in the south. In their wandering, many will die of despair and misery. A formal ethnic cleansing recognized by England in ... 2003.

War broke out in 1755. Despite heroic French resistance under the leadership of Montcalm, Canada was quickly overwhelmed by British troops, especially since the metropolis sent no reinforcements there. Louis XV, the "moron king" to use the joke of Jean-Claude Barreau in "the roots of France", preferred to get tangled up in uncertainty 7 years war, neglecting his colonial empire. It was the catastrophic " Treaty of Paris Of 1763. But, unlike England for whom the domination of the seas was vital, France had remained viscerally anchored in a continental vision issues of the time, considering with contempt "the arpents of snow" of Canada (Voltaire). Partially recovered in 1800 (Louisiana) to be immediately resold three years later in the United States by a Napoleon who hardly had the means to worry about his fate, New France and its population passed to the losses and profits of the history of France. Quebec of course remains from this epic, drowned in an Aglo-Saxon ocean, as well as family names and city names along the St.Lawrence and Mississippi, which resonate familiarly in our ears, sustaining the nostalgia for a bygone era.

Bibliography

- History of French America by Gilles Havard. Champs History, 2008.

- Quebec: Capital of New France 1608-1760 by Raymonde Litalien. Beautiful letters 2008.


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