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The French Immigration In The United States And Their Contribution To This Country.

2399 words - 10 pages

This assignment encouraged me to inquire into the historic significance the French immigrants had upon the United States. I would like to develop this aspect starting with the early French settlements and terminate by discussing their contributions to the United States.

The United States is an immense country, with many residents and citizens descending from immigrants who have influenced many customs, traditions, behaviors and ways of life. Unlike many old world nations, the United States does not have a homogenous population or a traditional homeland. However, American culture can be interpreted as being largely based in Western Europe with influences from the Native Indians, Africans, Asians, and elsewhere.

The love story between France and America began well before the colonists called their country the United States. As early as 1523, 31 years after Columbus, Giovanni da Verrazanoi, an Italian sailor from France, traveled to the new world with a crew of Frenchmen under the banner of Francis I, King of France. They reached the Carolinas, passed New York and a year later returned to France. France was lagging behind the other great nations of Europe in exploring that new mass of land. Though France was tardy in arriving in the new world, and even though she did not try to set up colonies for many years, the men she sent out to explore America were truly pathfinders and trailblazers. Their main concern was finding a water route around or through this continent, which was blocking their attempts to sail west to reach India for trade. Another French explorer, Jacques Cartier, set off on voyages along the St. Lawrence River and claimed territories in the name of France. He did not find a Northwest Passage but he did lay claim to vast new lands which were to be the foundation for "New France." For almost 60 years after this, the French explored the new territories for fur trade. They began to trade with Indians which established fur-trading posts (see sources # 1, 2, 3, 4, 14).

In the 1600s the men who came were not permanent settlers or empire-builders; they were explorers and adventures. Among them are Jean Nicolet, Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette who explored the land by the Great Lakes and the Mississippi Valley. Thousands of other men and women followed the French trailblazers into the Ohio Valley, the Mississippi Valley and, the regions by the Great lakes, finding a place for themselves in the New World. Sieur de La Salle, who is buried just west of Alto, and Robert Cavelier remained two of the greatest explorers of all time who gave form and substance to New France. In a series of explorations, La Salle, who has been called the Prince of Explorers found Ohio, traveled down to the Mississippi river, then to the Gulf of Mexico. Here, on the stands of the Gulf, he took possession of all the lands drained by the Mississippi in the name of the King of France. In honor to his king, Louis XIV, he named the...

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