Global France Seminar

François Furstenberg
John Hopkins University

Wed. 11/2/16
4:00 pm

This lecture explores the United States’ formative period in the late eighteenth century from the viewpoint of five distinguished Frenchmen who took refuge in America after fleeing the French Revolution. Their stories connect U.S. history to broader Atlantic currents, helping to reinterpret some of the more famous aspects of early American history from a more international perspective – from politics and cultural life in the nation’s capital to battles with Native Americans on the western frontier, from the Haitian Revolution to the Whiskey Rebellion to the Louisiana Purchase and beyond.


François Furstenberg is a professor of History, John Hopkins University.

His research focuses on the history of the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. His first book, In the Name of the Father: Washington’s Legacy, Slavery, and the Making of a Nation (2006), examined how a complex and evolving image of George Washington in 19th-century print culture promoted U.S. nationalism, and what the image of Washington’s slaveholding had to say about the relationship between slavery and nationalism in the post-revolutionary period.

His second book, When the United States Spoke French: Five Refugees who Shaped a Nation (2014), seeks to connect the U.S. to the French Atlantic World in the 18th-century Age of Revolutions. It follows a group of French émigrés who fled the French Revolution and settled in Philadelphia, where they integrated into some of the most exalted political and financial networks of the young nation. Through these figures—which include the diplomat Talleyrand, the duc de LaRochefoucauld-Liancout, the philosophe Volney, French officer, vicomte de Noailles, and the lawyer and bookseller Moreau de Saint-Méry—the book examines early U.S. political culture, its economic life, and major geopolitical issues bearing on Louisiana and the Caribbean.