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French Colonial America

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  Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: French Colonial America
    Posted: 01-Sep-2005 at 09:13
Just thought that was a good occasion, now that New Orleans and Biloxi are in the focus of all news, to consider the French influence in America, specially in North America and the Caribbean. Many of the modern names of cities an regions not just of Canada but of the USA come from French colonization, though only a few were truly important.

The French built a very extense overseas empire but very scarcely populated. Initially France costed explorations of North American Atlantic coasts by Verrazzano and Cartier, this last made a claim on the Gasp peninsula in 1534 but the claim was not backed with colonization till much later, remaining the are only as a seasonal fishery for Basque and Breton fishermen.

The first French offshore colonies were a total failure: first Huguenots exiles attempted to create a colony named Fort Caroline (modern Jacksonville, Florida) as early as 1562. Then, the first attempts to build a colony in New France (Canada) were also failures: Sable Island, Tadoussac, le-Sainte-Croix and Port Royal were succesively abandoned. Only the foundation of Qubec  in 1608 would give solidity to the new colony, based in fur trading. Still, in 1640 only a few hundreds colonists lived in the town. Richelieu wished to reinforce the colony but his ultra-Catholic policies discouraged Hugenot settlers that migrated to the English colonies instead. The semifeudal system stabilished didn't help either to favor migration. Still the colony grew with the succesive foundations of Trois-Rivires in 1634 and Ville-Marie (Montreal) in 1640. Jesuit missionaires also pentrated into the Great Lakes region converting the Hurons to Catholicism. But english-backed Iroquois (who sought to control the fur trade) destroyed largely the Franco-Huron culture soon after.


New France in 1667.

Meanwhile, France had achieved some consolidation in the Caribbean region. From the bucaneer outpost of Tortuga (la Tortue), the French achieved to control the Western Part of Hispaniola (Hait). In 1632, they founded a would-be major base in Martinique, and later in Guadaloupe, St. Lucia, Dominica, Tobago, Grenada and St. Croix.

From this Caribbean platform they soon aimed to connect the two halves of their offshore empire by means of controling the Mississippi valley, which had been explored by La Salle in 1682. In 1699, the Colony of Louisiana with capital initially in Biloxi and then in New Orleans was created. Many outposts were stabilished along the Mississippi river and the coasts of the Great Lakes, some of them would be the foundations of modern important US cities: St. Louis, Fort Detroit, Fort Erie, Fort Chicago...

The French and Indian War, colonial name of the European Seven Year's War ended in 1763, with France ceding Canada and the disputed territories east of the Mississippi to England, while the rest of Louisiana passed temporarily to Spain, that was unable to enforce its authority there.




New France and Louisiana before the Treaty of Paris.



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  Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Sep-2005 at 10:26

Maju:

Interesting topic.....and not well known.

The French efforts in the New World were affected by two main things:

The eight French Wars of Religion, 1562-1598 (including war w/Spain)

France's continental position being "outflanked" by the Habsburgs.

Also, colonial emigration was not so attractive to the French, and goes a long way to explaining why so few French went to the New World.

France, comparatively, was a wealthy country with sufficient food, etc. (until the crises in the XVII c.).  Also, as Huguenots were viewed with some suspicion, there was no movement to colonial territories for religious freedom.  They were not trusted.  In any case, many Huguenots were merchants or soldiers and profit for them was more available in Europe.  More left for Holland or Brandenburg or the Scandinavian kingdoms.

The religious wars diverted French attention and capital from the exploration and settlement in the XVI c.  The Florida settlement was eliminated by Spain, and trading/colony interests could not raise the money needed.  Not until France recovered after 1600 was some presence in Canada (New France) established and sustained.

From the beginning, French interest was mostly in trade with the Indians and in fishing off Canada, with some agriculture.  Eastern Canada was so heavily forested, and the growing season so short, that the few French who went there were mostly at subsistence level.  There were never enough of them to change that, unlike the English further south.

The Mississippi and Ohio valleys were certainly recognized as important, and settlements (mostly trading posts and Catholic missions) popped up accompanied by French royal claims.  The posts were sparsely populated and separated by hundreds of miles.

France never supported Canada very strongly, being constantly embroiled in European politics and wars.  For France, North America was an afterthought, and after the Seven Years War the French lost interest in overseas empire building until Algeria in the 1830s....closer to home.

The retrocession of Louisiana to France ended when it was purchased from Napoleonic France by the U.S. (1803?)

As part of the imperial struggle between England and France, when England assumed control of the Canadian maritimes, (French "Acadia"), many of the French there were relocated to what became New Orleans.  There are many descendants of them in Louisiana, and French names and place names are widespread.

Many of the fisherman and shrimpers as well as others call themselves "Cajuns," a corruption of "Acadians."  They have a distinct and recognizable culture including dialects, music and really, really spicy food!

Incidentally, although the basis of law in the United States is English common law in 49 states, the basis in Louisiana is the Napoleonic code.     



Edited by pikeshot1600
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  Quote Jalisco Lancer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Sep-2005 at 13:33


France tried to stablish a protectorade in Mexico back in 1862.
Plus, due international arbitration, Mexico had to give the Isla de La Pasion ( Clipperton Island ) to France.

It was a previous french attempt to conquer Sonora and Baja California back in 1853.

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  Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Sep-2005 at 13:43
Yes, though I left aside Late Modern history intentionately: post-Revolutionary France, specially that of Napoleon III, wasn't much like classical France and their almost sympathetic fur-traders of Canada.

Another French curious colonial attempt in America was France Antartique, in northern Brazil. French Hugenots founded the colony of St. Louis, that now is called San Luis. It was something very brief. The only legacy of those South American French attempts is French Guayana, a place that has 40% unemployement rates and lives on state subsidies, like most French surviving colonies (no wonder they don't want to separate from the motherland). It was home to an ill-fated penal colony and nowadays is most famous for having some of the most important European space facilities.

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  Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Sep-2005 at 13:49

Yeah, France had a brain fart thinking the British would have put up with that for very long.  I think it was ridiculous.  What was it's real purpose?  I suppose that is why it is  referred to as the Mexican Adventure.

Any way, drastic changes occurred from 1862 to 1865.  At the end of the Civil War, the U.S. army was 1,100,000 strong and battle tested with experienced generals.  When four army corps were moved to the Rio Grande, the French saw the light....even before the rise of Prussian power 1866-70.

The Mexican War 1846-48 cannot be justified by invocation of the Monroe Doctrine (it probably couldn't have been justified at all).  However, with an army of 1,000,000 men and a navy of almost 1,000 ships, the signal to France was the first true American enforcement of the Doctrine, and not relying on the Royal navy.

BTW, Maju started a thread on French colonial America....let's not get distracted by the Mex.-Am. War.  

 

 

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  Quote Jalisco Lancer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Sep-2005 at 17:45
Pikeshot, the French announced their retire from Mexico before Sheridan stationated troops on the Rio Bravo .
Many historians claimed a major role from the US on the liberation of Mexico. In fact, the Union stablished an embargo on the sales of weapons and ammo to the mexican republicans by trying to avoid a French involment on favor of the CSA.

Mexico was saved by itself. By Pres. Juarez not giving up and the republican generals as Porfirio Diaz, Nicolas Regules, Ramon Corona , Mariano Escobedo and many others.

The Union did not recognized the Mexican Empire and France did not recognized to the CSA. The Mexican Empire did not offered the recognition to the CSA.
It was a political game were the unionist were not happy by having a French Protectorade crossing the Rio Bravo. The French were trying to avoid being pulled into the US Civil War by not granting the official recognition to the Conferedate States. The Puppet Emperor ( Maximilian ) following instructions from Paris, refussed to interview with the CSA Agents.

Before the French Invasion, both the Union and the CSA goverments had approaches with Mexico.
Even before the break of the Union, the US offered to Mexico a loan to solve the financial situation with France, Spain and England. The only warranty requested were the mexican states of Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Sonora, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon and both Baja Californias. If Mexico was not able to pay back to the US within a term of 5 years, then the territories will be annhexed to the US.

Luckily for us, the Civil War erupted,keeping to the US busy on their own internal affairs.

Edited by Jalisco Lancer
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  Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Sep-2005 at 08:21

Originally posted by Jalisco Lancer

Pikeshot, the French announced their retire from Mexico before Sheridan stationated troops on the Rio Bravo .
Many historians claimed a major role from the US on the liberation of Mexico. In fact, the Union stablished an embargo on the sales of weapons and ammo to the mexican republicans by trying to avoid a French involment on favor of the CSA.

Mexico was saved by itself. By Pres. Juarez not giving up and the republican generals as Porfirio Diaz, Nicolas Regules, Ramon Corona , Mariano Escobedo and many others.

The Union did not recognized the Mexican Empire and France did not recognized to the CSA. The Mexican Empire did not offered the recognition to the CSA.
It was a political game were the unionist were not happy by having a French Protectorade crossing the Rio Bravo. The French were trying to avoid being pulled into the US Civil War by not granting the official recognition to the Conferedate States. The Puppet Emperor ( Maximilian ) following instructions from Paris, refussed to interview with the CSA Agents.

Before the French Invasion, both the Union and the CSA goverments had approaches with Mexico.
Even before the break of the Union, the US offered to Mexico a loan to solve the financial situation with France, Spain and England. The only warranty requested were the mexican states of Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Sonora, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon and both Baja Californias. If Mexico was not able to pay back to the US within a term of 5 years, then the territories will be annhexed to the US.

Luckily for us, the Civil War erupted,keeping to the US busy on their own internal affairs.

I stand corrected.  My chronology was wrong on the withdrawal. 

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  Quote Decebal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Sep-2005 at 12:32
A little known fact is that France did keep some colonies in North America, that is the islands of St.Pierre and Miquelon, off the coast of Newfoundland, after 1763. These were important, since they conferred upon France fishing rights in the great banks that surround Newfoundland.

The interest of France in North America were mostly economic. Unlike the English, who were a religiously heterogenous nation where emigration was common, for religiuos reasons, France was more homogenous, and immigrants were rare. Besides, due to the poor nature of the soil and the harsh climate in Canada, these colonies could not hope to compete with the English colonies in terms of agrarian development. While France did try to encourage settlement after 1663, under Colbert, it did not succeed in competeing with the English demographically in Canada or the rest of New France. By 1763, there were only 60,000 French people in North America, compared to almost 3 million English. By that time as well, the importance of the fur trade had decreased, and the sugar-producing Carribean colonies of Martinique and Guadeloupe were much more important economically to France than New France.
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  Quote belleterr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jun-2006 at 18:50

I am trying to find a reference to the french practices related to banishment and exile following criminal convictions in the mid-18th century, particularly as it may connect to migration to the french caribbean colonies.  (Cayenne became a penal colony beginning in the mid 19th century)  Any advice?

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