When the United States Spoke French: Five Refugees Who Shaped a Nation
About the Book
François Furstenberg follows these five men --- Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Napoleon’s future foreign minister; theoristreformer Rochefoucauld, the duc de Liancourt; Louis-Marie Vicomte de Noailles; Moreau de Saint-Méry; and Constantin-François Chasseboeuf, Comte Volney --- as they left their homes and families in France, crossed the Atlantic, and landed in Philadelphia --- then America’s capital, its principal port, and by far its most cosmopolitan city and the home of the wealthiest merchants and financiers. The book vividly reconstructs their American adventures, following along as they integrated themselves into the city and its elite social networks, began speculating on backcountry lands, and eventually became enmeshed in Franco-American diplomacy. Through their stories, we see some of the most famous events of early American history in a new light, from the diplomatic struggles of the 1790s to the Haitian Revolution to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
By the end of this period, the United States was on its way to becoming a major global power. Through this small circle of men, we find new ways to understand the connections between U.S. and world history, and gain fresh insight into American history’s most critical era. Beautifully written and brilliantly argued, WHEN THE UNITED STATES SPOKE FRENCH offers a fresh perspective on the tumultuous years of the young nation, when the first great republican experiments were put to the test.