jeudi 30 octobre 2008

French . The most Practical Foreign Language

The Most Practical Foreign Language

Richard Shryock
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
(Virginia Tech)

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The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language 2008 Survey indicates that more students are interested in studying French than any other foreign language in the United States.

The most recent survey by the Modern Languages Association (2006) shows that French enrollments in the United States are on the rise.

While any language will be useful for some jobs or for some regions, French is the only foreign language that can be useful throughout the world as well as in the United States. French as a foreign language is the second most frequently taught language in the world after English. The International Organization of Francophonie has 51 member states and governments. Of these, 28 countries have French as an official language. French is the only language other than English spoken on five continents. French and English are the only two global languages.

When deciding on a foreign language for work or school, consider that French is the language that will give you the most choices later on in your studies or your career.

French, along with English, is the official working language of

  • the United Nations
  • NATO
  • Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
  • the International Labor Bureau
  • the International Olympic Committee
  • the 31-member Council of Europe
  • the European Community
  • the Universal Postal Union
  • the International Red Cross
  • Union of International Associations (UIA)

French is the dominant working language at

  • the European Court of Justice
  • the European Tribunal of First Instance
  • the Press Room at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium

One example of the importance of French can be seen in a recent listing of international jobs (8/25/08) distributed by the US State Department: 78 required or preferred French, 27 a UN language (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish), 17 Spanish, 10 Arabic, 5 Russian, and 3 German, 1 Chinese.

Of the various types of professional positions for which international organizations recruit, five required French, two Spanish, one Portuguese, and one Arabic, according to the fact sheet released by the UN Employment Information and Assistance Unit Bureau of International Organization Affairs U.S. Department of State, December 1, 2000.

The Economics of French and France

  • French is the foreign language spoken by our largest trading partner (Canada).
  • The province of Quebec alone is the sixth largest trading partner of the United States with approximately $72 billion in trade in 2006.
  • In 2006, the United States exported and imported more to countries having French as a national language than to countries having any other foreign language. Exports to Canada alone in that year were greater than the combined exports to all countries south of the United States.
  • From 2003 to 2006 trade between France and the United States increased by 75% with one billion dollars of transactions taking place every day.
  • The U.S. and France share many trade similarities, particularly their global standing as the world's top 2 exporters in 3 very important sectors: defense products, agricultural goods, and services. Franco-American trade is also remarkable for its symmetry, as 6 of the top 10 exports are the same each way.
  • France has the sixth largest economy in the world after the U.S., Japan, Germany, China and England. In 2006, the French GDP was $2.231 trillion and China's was $2.668 trillion.
  • France is the second largest exporter of agricultural products in the world after the U.S.
  • In recent years, the U.S. has been the largest direct investor in France. France is nearly tied with Japan, Germany and the Netherlands as the second largest foreign investor in the U.S.
  • The world invests in France: in 2006, France was the third largest destination of foreign investment in the world.
  • French companies employ approximately 500,000 Americans, and US companies employ nearly 600,000 people in France. Among foreign countries doing business in the US, France employs the third largest number of Americans.
  • French is one of the languages spoken in the US: 1.9 million Americans speak French in the home. (2000 US Census)
  • Overall, the French export more per capita than the Japanese and more than twice as much as the Americans. France is overall, the fourth largest exporting nation of the world.
  • France is the world's leader in the production of luxury goods.
  • More tourists visit France than any other country in the world.
  • France gives more foreign aid per capita to developing nations than does the US.

Science and Technology

  • France will be the site of the world's first nuclear fusion reactor, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor
  • Seven of France's top ten exports to the U.S. are industrial or high technology products.
  • France is the fourth largest producer of automobiles in the world (Renault, Peugeot, Citroën) and the third largest exporter.
  • France is fourth in research among countries of the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (after Japan, Germany, and the US).
  • France is a major world research center in the field of high energy physics.
  • The French are a world leader in medical research: the AIDS virus was first isolated by French doctors.
  • The French are a leader in medical genetics (the Human Genome Project is located in Paris).
  • The French are the world's third manufacturers of electronics equipment.
  • European leader in aerospace (Aérospatiale, Arianespace, Airbus...).
  • Most commercial satellites are put into space on French Ariane rockets.
  • The fastest train (TGV) is French.
  • The smart card was used on a large-scale basis in France.
  • The ocean liner Queen Mary II was built in France.
  • France is the world's third military power (after the US and Russia), and has the world's second largest defense industry (i.e. exocet missiles, radar technology.)
  • The French have nearly 15,000 troups on peace-keeping duties in 15 countries including Afghanistan, the Balkans, and the Ivory Coast.
  • France is the world's second largest builder and exporter of civilian and military aircraft and helicopters (Airbus is the world's second largest fleet of commercial airliners, and many of the US Coast Guard helicopters are made by Aérospatiale in Toulouse.)
  • France has one of the most advanced systems of telecommunications in the world. Fiber optics were invented in France.
  • Importance of French in school and work

    Historically France and the French language have had an enormous influence over American society. France was the United States' first ally. French thought played a dominant role among the founders of the United States in the 18th century, and it continues to shape America today through the influence of such intellectual currents as post-structuralism and post-modernism. In the humanities and the social sciences, many of the most important writings have come from France. Students and researchers who know French have access to these works for several years before they are translated into English. Many significant works are never translated and remain accessible only to those who know the language. In addition, most graduate schools require knowledge of at least one foreign language, and French remains the most commonly used language after English.

    When employers and universities look at applicants, they do not start looking at the bottom of the list to see who has done only the minimal amount of requirements necessary or taken the easiest route available, they start at the top of the list and look for those students who have risen above the rest. High school students should consider studying at least four years of a foreign language. College students should seek to earn a minor in French or have French as a primary or secondary major. With French they have access to the most widely spoken foreign language in the world after English and they become familiar with a culture that significantly influences our own. The French economy is one of the strongest in the world and is increasingly a leader in technological innovation. In sum, French is the language of the future.

    Are you looking to study French in a the context of a strong liberal arts program or the possibility of combining French with business, information technology, international studies or a variety of other areas? Please visit the web site of our program in French at Virginia Tech.

    Richard Shryock
    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
    (Virginia Tech)
    Dept. of Foreign Languages and Literatures
    Blacksburg, VA 24061-0225

    ©1997-2008 Richard Shryock. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.
    If you wish to cite or reproduce this article in part or entirely, please refer to the following notice. When quoting from this page, please be so kind as to indicate the author and the web address.

    Special thanks to Dr. Eric DuPlessis of Radford University who contributed information.

    Last update September 7, 2008

    mercredi 22 octobre 2008

    Bonsoir Soeur Emmanuelle et Merci....

    France - Soeur Emmanuelle is dead

    by Johnny Summerton | October 20, 2008 at 03:18 am | 636 views | 9 comments

    Tributes have been paid across France after the news that one of the country's most remarkable and much-loved women is dead.

    Soeur Emmanuelle, who dedicated her life to helping the poor and was often compared to Mother Therese. died on Monday morning at the age of 99.

    She died peacefully in her sleep at the home where she was being cared for in Callian in the south of France, the president of the association "Asmae-Association Sœur Emmanuelle" Trao Nguyen announced.

    The comparison to Mother Therese is one Soeur Emmanuelle - born Madeleine Cinquin in Brussels, Belgium - repeatedly downplayed with the comment that she was "no saint".

    But hers was a rich life that included setting up an association for unmarried mothers, working in Turkey and Tunisia and then at the age of 63 in the slums of Cairo, where she remained for 21 years.

    Even when she returned to France at the age of 85 - supposedly to retire - she continued working with the homeless, and made a number of television appearances to promote humanitarian causes.

    For the past decade she spent most of her time in a retirement home in Callian, receiving visitors but not leaving the village.

    Apart from many memories, Soeur Emmanuelle also leaves behind a series of books including one published in August "J'ai 100 ans et je voudrais vous dire " (I'm 100 years old and I would like to tell) in which she not only outlined what she considered her many faults but also left us with the thought that, "Without helping others and without sharing, humanity cannot progress."

    The French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner was among one of the first to respond to the news.

    "My Soeur Emmanuelle is dead, she would have been 100 years old, always young, admirable and beautiful, and I have a very heavy heart" he said in a statement.

    "I always remember what a joy it was to work alongside her. I will always keep the memory of the life force she gave and her ability to make mountains move," he added.

    "A woman of the streets. An incredible force who would tenderly tell you off."

    Even though she was sometimes at odds with the conventional thinking of the Catholic church - she spoke out in favour of the clergy being allowed to marry and even wrote to Pope John-Paul II telling him she thought contraception should be allowed - the Vatican was also quick to respond to news of her death.

    A spokesman for the Vatican, Father Federico Lombardi, said the church had lost "one if the greatest examples of Christian charity."

    "Her life showed how Christian charity could succeed regardless of national, racial or religious differences," he said.

    Soeur Emmanuelle made many appearances on French television and radio over the years, and as recently as July in a poll of this country's most popular people, she ranked sixth.

    There is simply too much to say about an exceptional woman who made such a difference to the lives of so many, and televised tributes have already been announced for the coming days.

    According to her wishes there will be a simple funeral ceremony in the village of Callian on Wednesday.

    But perhaps the last word for the moment is best left with the woman herself.

    "I've had a good and happy life," she said in her recent book

    "I can only keep repeating that it's necessary to give others optimism , the will and love."

    samedi 18 octobre 2008

    12 eme sommet de la Francophonie

    Just copy and paste
    Official Website:

    samedi 11 octobre 2008

    LE CLEZIO....Bravo...enfin! Toutes nos felicitations.

    J.M.G. Le Clézio (1940-)

    One of the most translated modern French authors, whose first novel appeared when he was only 23 years old. Due to his early experimentalist approach to novel, Le Clézio has been counted among the avant-garde writers, but actually his work is difficult to pin down. Le Clézio's themes are cross-cultural. He moves freely, without restriction, from one continent to another, fusing ideas and images from different kinds of literature and culture. Le Clézio was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2008.

    "La guerre a commencé. Personne ne sait plus où, ni comment, mais c'est ainsi. Elle est derrière la tête et elle souffle. La guerre des crimes et des insultes, la furie des regards, l'explosion de la pensée des cerveaux. Elle est là, ouverte sur le monde, elle le couvre de son réseau de fils électriques, Chaque seconde, elle progresse, elle arrache quelque chose et le réduit en cendres." (from La Guerre, 1970)

    Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio was born in Nice in 1940. Le Clézio's father, born in Mauritius, was a doctor, who moved from England to British Guyana, and then to Nigeria. Before the family was reunited, he lived years in Africa.

    Le Clézio was raised in France. His early childhood Le Clézio spent in Roquebillière, a small village near Nice. At the age of eight Le Clézio started to write poetry and read comics. In 1947 he traveled to Nigeria with his mother and brother, spending there a happy year without school. Later the author depicted his childhood in the semi-autobiographical novel Onitsha (1991), in which a young boy sails with his mother to Africa, where his English father is chasing his own dreams.

    Le Clézio was educated at schools in Nice, where his mother settled during the war. In 1957 Le Clézio passed his baccalauréat in literature and philosophy. He then studied at the Bristol University, at the University of London, and Institut d'Études Littéraires in Nice. In 1964 he received his M.A. from the University of Aix-en-Provence. Le Clézio obtained his doctoral degree from the University of Perpignan.

    Le Clézio married in 1960 Rosalie Piquemal, half-French, half-Polish; they had one daughter. After divorce Le Clézio remarried. From this marriage he has also one daughter.

    As a writer Le Clézio made his breakthrough with his first novel, Le procès-verbal (1963), which was awarded the Théophraste Renaudot Prize. The work introduced one of his central themes, the flight from commonly accepted ways of thought into extreme states of mind. Adam Pollo, the protagonist, is a sensitive youg man, who wanders around the town, much like a stray dog, and after making an agitated speech to an apathetic crowd eventually ends up in a mental hospital for a period. The mood of the novel has been compared to that of Camus's Stranger and Sartre's Naisea.

    Le Clézio's writing is simultaneously clear and intensive, impressionistic and controlled, nostalgic and contemporary. In an interview Le Clézio once said, that his favorite novelist are Stevenson and Joyce – noteworthy both exiled writers. Often his protagonists are loners, who try to find ways to cope with the modern life and technology, or come into conflict with urban surroundings.

    Le procès-verbal was soon translated into several languages, among others into Finnish. In spite of his international fame, Le Clézio chose to stay away from fashionable literary circles, saying in an article in 1965: "Not yet sure if writing is a good way of expression." He taught at a Buddhist University in Thailand in 1966-67, at the University of Mexico, and at the Boston University, University of Texas, Austin, and the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. From 1973 Le Clézio and his Moroccan wife Jemia divided their time between France, the U.S. and the island of Mauritius; Le Clézio has called Mauritius his "little fatherland". Le Clézio has also traveled in Nigeria and Japan and published translations of Mayan sacred texts. The last years Le Clézio has lived mainly in New Mexico.

    Through Le Clézio's novels the sun and the sea, light and water, are recurrent images. From 1969 to 1973 Le Clézio lived among the Embera Indians in Panama. Haï (1971), written during this period, is a lyrical account of the author's experience which, as he has confessed, changed his whole life. On the whole, the natural environment, animate and inanimate, forms a kind of philosophical, unifying ground for Le Clézio's themes.

    Le Clézio's constant travels are reflected in the settings of his books. Through his own experience he has described the clash of cultures, and the unequal side of globalization, the domination of Western rationalism. In Désert (1980), which received the Grand Prix Paul Morand, a young nomad woman, Lalla, from the Sahara becomes a famous photo model, but she returns to the desert to give birth to her child. A parallel story tells of the crushing of the Tuaregs in the beginning of the 20th century by the French colonizers.

    For further reading: Conversations avec J.-M. G. Le Clézio by P. Lhoste (1971); World Authors 1950-1970, ed. by John Wakeman (1975); J.-M. G. Le Clézio by Jennifer Waelti-Walters (1977); Contemporary World Writers, ed. by Tracy Chevalier (1993); Le Clézio ou la quête du désert by Simone Domange (1993); Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century, vol. 3, ed. by Steven R. Serafin (1999) - For further information: Intersected Pasts and Problematic Futures by Karen D. Levy

    Selecter works:

    • Le Procès-Verbal, 1963 - The Interrogation (tr. Daphne Woodward, 1964) - Raportti Aatamista (suom. Olli-Matti Ronimus)
    • Le Jour où Beaumont fit connaissance avec sa douleur, 1964
    • La Fièvre, 1965 - Fever (tr. Daphne Woodward, 1966) - Kuume (suom. Leila Adler)
    • Le Déluge, 1966 - The Flood (tr. Peter Green, 1968)
    • L'Extase matérielle, 1966
    • Terra amata, 1968 - Terra Amata (tr. Barbara Bray, 1969)
    • Le Livre des fuites, 1969 - The Book of Flights (tr. Simon Watson Taylor, 1972)
    • La Guerre, 1970 - War (tr. 1973)
    • Haï, 1971
    • Les Géants, 1973 - The Giants (tr. Simon Watson Taylor, 1975)
    • Mydriase, 1973
    • Voyages de l'autre côté, 1975
    • translator: Les Prophéties du chilam Balam, 1976
    • Voyage aux pays des arbres, 1978
    • L'Inconnu sur la terre, 1978
    • Vers les Icebergs, 1978
    • Mondo et autres histoires, 1978 - film: Mondo (1996), dir. by Tony Gatlif, starring Ovidiu Balan, Philippe Petit, Pierrette Fesch, Jerry Smith
    • Désert, 1980 - Autiomaa (suom. Marjatta Ecaré)
    • Trois Villes saintes, 1980
    • Lullaby, 1980
    • La Ronde et autres faits divers, 1982 - The Round & Other Cold Hard Facts = La ronde et autres faits divers (translated by C. Dickson)
    • Celui qui'n avait jamais vu la mer; La Montagne du dieu vivant, 1984
    • translator: Relation de Michocan, 1984
    • Le Chercheur d'or, 1985 - The Prospector (tr. by Carol Marks)
    • Villa aurore; Orlamonde, 1985
    • Balaabilou, 1985
    • Voyage à Rodrigues, 1986
    • Les Années Cannes, 1987
    • Le Rêve mexicain, ou, La Pensée interrompue, 1988 - Mexican Dream (tr. by Teresa Lavender Fagan)
    • Printemps et autres saisons: nouvelles, 1989
    • Sirandanes; Un Petit Lexique de la langue créole et des oiseaux, 1990
    • Onitsha, 1991 - Onitsha (tr. by Alison Anderson) - Kaupunki nimeltä Onitsha (suom. Annikki Suni)
    • Pawana, 1992
    • Étoile errante, 1992 - Wandering Star (tr. by C. Dickson) - Harhaileva tähti (suom. Annikki Suni)
    • Diego et Frida, 1993
    • La Quarantaine, 1995
    • In the Eye of the Sun: Mexican Fiestas, 1996 (with Geoff Winningham)
    • Poisson d'or, 1997
    • La fête chantée, 1997
    • Enfances, 1997 (with Christophe Kuhn)
    • Hasard suivi de Angoli Mala, 1999
    • Fantômes dans la rue, 2000
    • Coeur brûlé et autres romances, 2000
    • Révolutions, 2003
    • Mondo et autres histoires, 2005
    • Ourania, 2006
    • Raga: approche du continent invisible, 2006
    • Ballaciner, 2007
    • Ritournelle de la faim, 2008

    lundi 21 juillet 2008

    Bastille day English & French

    Bastille Day
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    The Champs-Élysées decorated with flags for Bastille Day
    The Champs-Élysées decorated with flags for Bastille Day
    Eiffel tower on Bastille Day
    Eiffel tower on Bastille Day

    Bastille Day is the French national holiday, celebrated on 14 July each year . In France, it is called Fête Nationale ("National Celebration") in official parlance, or more commonly quatorze juillet ("14 July"). It commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération, held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789; the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress-prison was seen as a symbol of the uprising of the modern French nation, and of the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic, during the French Revolution.

    Festivities are held the morning of 14 July, the largest on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris in front of the President of the Republic.

    The parade opens with cadets from the École Polytechnique, Saint-Cyr, École Navale, and so forth, then other infantry troops, then motorised troops; aviation of the Patrouille de France flies above. In recent times, it has become customary to invite units from France's allies to the parade; in 2004 during the centenary of the Entente Cordiale, British troops (the band of the Royal Marines, the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, Grenadier Guards and King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery) led the Bastille Day parade in Paris for the first time, with the Red Arrows flying overhead.[1]

    Traditionally, the students of the École Polytechnique set up some form of joke.

    The president used to give an interview to members of the press, discussing the situation of the country, recent events and projects for the future. Nicolas Sarkozy, elected president in 2007, has chosen not to give it. The President also holds a garden party at the Palais de l'Elysée.

    Bastille Day falls during the Tour de France and is traditionally a day on which French riders try to take a stage victory for France, working harder than they might otherwise.

    Article 17 of the Constitution of France gives the President the authority to pardon offenders, and since 1991 the President has pardoned many petty offenders (mainly traffic offences) on 14 July. In 2007, President Sarkozy declined to continue the practice[2].

    [edit] History

    [edit] The storming of the Bastille
    Prise de la Bastille, by Jean-Pierre-Louis-Laurent Houel
    Prise de la Bastille, by Jean-Pierre-Louis-Laurent Houel

    On 5 May 1789, Louis XVI convened the Estates-General to hear their grievances. The deputies of the Third Estate representing the common people (the two others were clergy and nobility) decided to break away and form a National Assembly. On 20 June the deputies of the Third Estate took the Tennis Court Oath, swearing not to separate until a constitution had been established. They were gradually joined by delegates of the other estates; Louis started to recognize their validity on 27 June. The assembly re-named itself the National Constituent Assembly on 9 July, and began to function as a legislature and to draft a constitution.

    In the wake of the 11 July dismissal of Jacques Necker, the people of Paris, fearful that they and their representatives would be attacked by the royal military, and seeking to gain arms for the general populace, stormed the Bastille, a fortress-prison in Paris which had often held people jailed on the basis of lettres de cachet, arbitrary royal indictments that could not be appealed. Besides holding a large cache of arms, the Bastille had been known for holding political prisoners whose writings had displeased the royal government, and was thus a symbol of the absolutism of the monarchy. As it happened, at the time of the siege in July 1789 there were only seven inmates, none of great political significance.

    When the crowd (legend says it was organised by descendants of the Knights Templar)— eventually reinforced by mutinous gardes françaises — proved a fair match for the fort's defenders, Governor de Launay, the commander of the Bastille, capitulated and opened the gates to avoid a mutual massacre. However, possibly because of a misunderstanding, fighting resumed. Ninety-eight attackers and just one defender died in the actual fighting, but in the aftermath, de Launay and seven other defenders were killed, as was the 'prévôt des marchands' (roughly, mayor) Jacques de Flesselles.

    The storming of the Bastille was more important as a rallying point and symbolic act of rebellion than a practical act of defiance.

    Shortly after the storming of the Bastille, on 4 August feudalism was abolished and on 26 August, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen proclaimed

    Fête nationale française
    Un article de Wikipédia, l'encyclopédie libre.

    La fête nationale française a lieu chaque 14 juillet depuis 1880. Elle commémore la fête de la Fédération, qui fêtait elle-même sans le savoir le premier anniversaire de la prise de la Bastille qui est souvent confondue avec cette fête, et marquait la fin de la monarchie absolue. C'est un jour férié, chômé et payé.


    Célébrations [modifier]
    Icône de détail Article détaillé : Défilé militaire du 14 juillet.

    Le 14 juillet donne lieu à un défilé des troupes sur les Champs-Élysées, à des défilés ou des cérémonies militaires dans la plupart des communes, et à des feux d'artifices. (Bien qu'en général ces feux d'artifices ont lieu dans la nuit du 14 au 15 Juillet, ils peuvent parfois être vus durant le soir du 13 au 14.)

    Instauration comme fête nationale [modifier]

    Le 21 mai 1880, le député Benjamin Raspail dépose la loi faisant du 14 juillet la fête nationale annuelle en commémoration du 14 juillet 1790, (fête de la Fédération). Le 14 juillet 1789 (prise de la Bastille) ayant été une journée jugée sanglante où des Français massacrèrent des Français, cela ne pouvais pas être une « fête » nationale (de surcroît) ainsi, c’est la Fête de la fédération qui emporta les suffrages. C'est finalement le 14 juillet 1790 seul qui est commémoré.

    La loi, signée par 64 députés, est adoptée par l'Assemblée le 8 juin et par le Sénat le 29 juin. Elle est promulguée le 6 juillet 1880.

    La lecture du rapport de séance du Sénat du 29 juin 1880[1] établissant cette fête nationale éclaire le débat sous-jacent portant sur laquelle de ces deux dates est commémorée le 14 juillet :

    M. le rapporteur (Henri Martin) : - « Il y a eu ensuite, au 14 juillet 1789, il y a eu du sang versé, quelques actes déplorables ; mais, hélas ! dans tous les grands événements de l’histoire, les progrès ont été jusqu’ici achetés par bien des douleurs, par bien du sang. Espérons qu’il n’en sera plus ainsi dans l’avenir (« très bien » à gauche, interruptions à droite).
    À droite. - Oui, espérons !
    M. Hervé de Saisy. - Nous n’en sommes pas bien sûrs !
    M. le rapporteur. - Nous avons le droit de l’espérer. Mais n’oubliez pas que, derrière ce 14 juillet, où la victoire de l’ère nouvelle sur l’ancien régime fut achetée par une lutte armée, n’oubliez pas qu’après la journée du 14 juillet 1789 il y a eu la journée du 14 juillet 1790 (« très-bien ! » à gauche).
    Cette journée-là, vous ne lui reprocherez pas d’avoir versé une goutte de sang, d’avoir jeté la division à un degré quelconque dans le pays, Elle a été la consécration de l’unité de la France. Oui, elle a consacré ce que l’ancienne royauté avait préparé. L’ancienne royauté avait fait pour ainsi dire le corps de la France, et nous ne l’avons pas oublié ; la Révolution, ce jour-là, le 14 juillet 1790, a fait, je ne veux pas dire l’âme de la France – personne que Dieu n’a fait l’âme de la France – mais la Révolution a donné à la France conscience d’elle-même (« très-bien ! » sur les mêmes bancs) ; elle a révélé à elle-même l’âme de la France »

    4 juillet - Fraternite des armes-Francais

    1778-1783 : la fraternité des armes
    La cour de Versailles avait suivi avec intérêt les signes annonciateurs de la révolte américaine. Quand, en 1776, les treize colonies proclamèrent leur indépendance, Vergennes, secrétaire d’Etat aux Affaires étrangères, y vit [’occasion rêvée de prendre une revanche sur l’Angleterre et conseilla au roi d’aider les rebelles. Louis XVI, lui-même souverain absolu, n’était guère porté à soutenir une rébellion contre la monarchie. Malgré une opinion plutôt favorable aux Insurgents, le soutien de la France était donc loin d’être acquis lorsque Benjamin Franklin arriva à Paris, le 27 décembre 1776, pour prêter main-forte à son compatriote Silas Deane, un riche commerçant du Connecticut, qui, dépêché comme ambassadeur par les Insurgents, n’avait, jusque-là, guère obtenu de résultats. La réputation de l’illustre savant, sa simplicité, son esprit eurent raison des réserves de la Cour.

    Bientôt, [’aide aux rebelles s’organisa. D’abord discrète, puis ouverte, tandis que les volontaires affluaient pour mettre leur épée au service des Insurgents. Tout, en effet, attirait la jeunesse française vers l’Amérique : I’attrait des idées nouvelles, la soif d’en découdre avec l’ennemi héréditaire anglais, le besoin d’aventures et le dépaysement offert à cette génération préromantique par les vastes déserts du Nouveau Monde.

    Quelques mois plus tard, Silas Deane put écrire : « La rage de s’engager au service de l’Amérique va croissant et la conséquence est que je suis inondé d’offres, dont beaucoup viennent de personnes de haut rang… » Le roi lui-même dut intervenir lorsque le comte de Noailles et le comte de Ségur, deux des plus grands noms du royaume, voulurent partir aux côtés du jeune marquis de La Fayette, au risque de compromettre prématurément la France. Noailles et Ségur s’inclinèrent, mais La Fayette acheta secrètement un bateau, la Victoire, et s’enfuit à Bordeaux puis en Espagne d’où il fit voile vers Georgetown, où il débarqua en juin 1777. Beaucoup de volontaires furent pourtant déçus en arrivant à destination : ne parlant pas anglais, pour la plupart, ils ne pouvaient s’imposer à des troupes qui ne ressemblaient en rien aux armées régulières d’Europe. Et les préjugés de leur classe les empêchèrent souvent de s ’adapter à la sensibilité démocratique des citoyens-soldats de George Washington. Accueilli sans grand enthousiasme à Philadelphie, La Fayette s’obstina, allant jusqu’à proposer de servir à ses frais, et comme simple soldat. Mais Franklin avait, entre-temps, expliqué au Congrès qu’il convenait de s’attacher les jeunes étrangers venus en Amérique, dans la mesure où [’influence de leur famille pouvait se révéler décisive à Versailles. La Fayette finit donc par obtenir un brevet de major général… Rejoignant le front au moment où le général anglais Howe marchait sur Philadelphie, il fut blessé à Brandywine, avant de suivre Washington à Valley Forge, où le commandant des Insurgents avait installé son quartier général. L’hiver de 1777-1778 fut très difficile pour les Américains : mal nourris, mal vêtus, mal armés, ils ne devaient plus qu’à l’énergie indomptable de leur chef d’être encore debout, et une attaque anglaise, à ce moment, aurait sans doute changé le cours de l’Histoire.

    A Paris, Franklin se dépensait donc sans compter pour transformer [’attitude bienveillante de la France en alliance officielle. Mais Vergennes, prudent et surveillé de près par l’ambassadeur de Sa Gracieuse Majesté, Lord Stormont, voulait être sûr du soutien espagnol avant de franchir ce pas décisif. Annoncée en novembre 1777, la capitulation de l’anglais Burgoyne à Saratoga fit définitivement percher la balance en faveur des Insurgents. Et dès le 17 décembre, Vergennes, soucieux de devancer une éventuelle paix de compromis anglo-américaine, informa Franklin que Louis XVI avait décidé de reconnaître indépendance des Etats-Unis et de signer avec eux un traité de commerce et d’amitié. Ce sera chose faite le 6 février 1778.

    La France aide les Insurgents

    La situation des Insurgents était alors si critique que les Français auraient pu abuser de la situation. Ils n’en firent rien, comme l’explique Vergennes lui-même, dans une missive datée du 17 mars 1778 à son ambassadeur àLondres : « Nous n’avons voulu nous procurer aucun avantage de commerce que d’autres nations pourraient jalouser et que les Américains pourraient se reprocher, par la suite des temps, de nous avoir accordé. » Une semaine plus tard, le ministre précisait : « Les députés autorisés des Etats-Unis étaient disposés à nous accorder les privilèges exclusifs que nous aurions exigés. Nous ne l’ignorions pas, mais le Roi a voulu faire un ouvrage solide qui passât à la postérité et qui donnât à ses conventions avec ces Etats toute la solidité et la durée dont les transactions humaines sont susceptibles. » Ce qui vaudra à la France ce compliment de Benjamin Franklin, grand connaisseur de la nature humaine : « La vérité est que cette nation aime la gloire, particulièrement celle de protéger les opprimés. » Sur le théâtre des opérations, les Britanniques commençaient à comprendre que le temps jouait contre eux. Après avoir pris Philadelphie, ils s’y étaient installés sans tenter de porter le coup de grace à l’ennemi. C’est donc avec la ferme intention d’en finir une fois pour toutes en profitant des divisions du camp adverse -notamment de la rivalité entre Washington et Gates, le vainqueur de Saratoga - que le général Clinton prit la succession du général Howe, démissionnaire. Craignant un blocus français du Delaware et une attaque des milices américaines sur la ville, il fit mouvement vers New York.

    Washington se lança à sa poursuite et l’attaqua à Monmouth - une audacieuse manœuvre qui auralt pu lui apporter une victoire décisive, si Charles Lee, commandant de [’avant-garde, désobéissant à ses ordres formels, n’avait inexplicablement reculé alors qu’il avait l’avantage. Traduit en cour martiale, Lee, que certains accusaient même de trahison, fut révoqué, mais le mal était fait et Washington, contraint de renoncer à [’offensive, dut prendre ses quartiers à New Brunswick tandis que Clinton se cantonnait à New York.

    Arrivée à pied d’oeuvre en juillet 1778, la flotte française de l’amiral d’Estaing avait entamé une manoeuvre combinée avec le général américain Sullivan pour prendre Newport. Mais cette première coopération d’envergure entre les nouveaux alliés avait échoué à cause d’une tempête, et d’Estaing reprit le large pour hiverner aux Antilles. Ce demi-échec risquait fort de refroidir les ardeurs de Paris au moment même où le besoin de renforts se faisait le plus sentir… A la fin de 1778, La Fayette obtint donc du Congrès un congé pour se rendre à Versailles. II y fut bien reçu et sut convaincre Maurepas et Vergennes de jeter tout le poids de la France dans la bataille. Parmi les plans qui avaient été préparés figurait un débarquement outre-Manche et une flotte avait été concentrée dans ce dessein au Havre et à Saint-Malo. Projet mort-né, mais qui rendait envisageable l’envoi d’un corps expéditionnaire dans le Nouveau Monde comme le demandait La Fayette.

    Mais s’il était techniquement possible de convoyer des milliers de soldats vers l’Amérique, les réserves politiques demeuraient fortes : on s’inquiétait des dissensions des Insurgents et l’on craignait que l’Espagne de Charles III, pourtant alliée de la France contre la Grande-Bretagne, ne vole d’un mauvais oeil une victoire trop nette de forces révolutionnaires aux portes de son vaste empire colonial. On décide cependant d’envoyer plus de 5 000 hommes, choisis parmi les meilleurs, au général Washington. La Fayette étant encore trop jeune pour en prendre la tête, on le dépêcha outre-Atlantique pour annoncer l’arrivée prochaine de ces troupes, dont on confia le commandement au comte de Rochambeau.

    Ils arrivent !

    Parti de Brest, le convoi parvint le 11 juillet 1780 en vue de Newport (Rhode Island). Parmi les officiers qui débarquèrent figuraient quelques-uns des plus grands noms de France : Montmorency, Custine, Chartres, Noailles, Lauzun… Mais l’espoir que l’arrivée des Français avait fait renaître dans le coeur des Insurgents fut de courte durée : I’arrivée peu après, à Newport, d’une importante flotte britannique, commandée par les amiraux Arbuthnot et Rodney, vint ruiner les plans d’une attaque rapide contre New York, et la rencontre de Hartford, organisée par La Fayette entre Rochambeau et Washington, ne put déboucher que sur une nouvelle demande de renforts : seul l’envoi par la France d’une force navale capable de faire échec aux Anglais pouvait désormais débloquer la situation. Pour couronner le tout, quand Washington revint à son quartier général de West Point, ce fut pour y apprendre la trahison de Benedict Arnold, l’un des plus brillants chefs militaires des Insurgents, qui venait de passer à l’ennemi. Devenu le conseiller du général Clinton, Arnold le pressait d’agir vite pour tirer avantage de la faiblesse ennemie. Victimes du blocus, les soldats américains n’étaient en effet, ni payés, ni nourris, ni vêtus et Rochambeau s’inquiétait légitimement des capacités de « ces gens à bout de ressources ». Une fois de plus, Louis XVI et Vergennes répondirent aux attentes de leurs alliés et, le 16 mai 1781, malgré l’état déplorable des finances publiques, un vaisseau français, la Concorde, apportait six millions de livres à Washington. Celui-ci voulait en profiter pour attaquer immédiatement New York. Rochambeau était plutôt d’avis de porter le fer au sud, où le général anglais Cornwallis ne parvenait pas à remporter une victoire décisive sur l’Américain Greene, qui, menant d’habiles actions de guérilla, l’entraînait toujours plus loin de ses bases. Ignorant ces hésitations, Clinton ordonna à Cornwallis de rallier Yorktown, sur la baie de la Chesapeake, avec ses 7 000 hommes, de tenir cette position en s’appuyant sur la Navy et de lui envoyer des renforts à New York où, pensait-il, se livrerait l’affrontement principal. Yorktown ainsi defendu paraissait nettement moins redoutable que New York, et Washington se laissa d’autant plus facilement convaincre de changer d’objectif que l’amiral de Grasse qui arrivait à la rescousse après ses belles victoires aux Antilles, lui avait fait connaître sa préférence pour la baie de la Chesapeake, plus profonde et propice aux manoeuvres que la baie de l’Hudson.

    Le 19 août, traversant le New Jersey et franchissant le Delaware, les troupes alliées fonçaient vers la Virginie. Entrés triomphalement dans Philadelphie le 30 août, Washington et Rochambeau arrivèrent peu après devant Yorktown à la tête de plus de 18 000 hommes : 9 000 Américains et 5 000 Français, auxquels se joignirent, quelques jours plus tard, les 3 300 soldats du marquis de Saint-Simon, embarqués à Saint-Domingue par de Grasse.

    Retranché dans la ville avec ses 7 000 Habits rouges, Cornwallis était en mauvaise posture. II se crut tiré d’affaire quand, le 5 septembre a l’aube, apparurent à [’entrée de l’estuaire les 22 navires de l’amiral Graves, venus de New York pour le secourir. Mais de Grasse sauva la situation : rester au mouillage, c’était offrir une cible facile à l’adversaire. Il fallait donc appareiller, et vite. Manoeuvrant brillamment, la flotte française parvint à doubler le cap Henry et à se ranger autour du Ville de Paris, le plus grand vaisseau de l’époque. Lorsque le combat s’engagea, au large, les Britanniques avaient laissé passer leur chance. Quand les canons se turent, ils avaient perdu un navire, et cinq autres étaient gravement endommagés. Côté français, aucun bâtiment n’avait été coulé, et deux seulement avaient été touchés. Graves se retire. La victoire française était complète.

    Cornwallis, misant tout sur le soutien qui devait lui venir de la mer, avait négligé de renforcer ses positions. Le 28 septembre, les alliés se déployèrent avec leur artillerie - les Français à gauche, puis le premier corps d’armée américain, puis le détachement francoaméricain de La Fayette, puis le corps d’armée de Washington et les troupes du général prussien von Steuben, qui combattait aux côtés des Insurgents depuis 1777. Le sort de Yorktown était scellé. Le 17 octobre, anniversaire de la capitulation de Burgoyne à Saratoga, la bannière étoilée était hissée sur la ville. La garnison défaite défila entre les vainqueurs - les Français à droite, les Américains à gauche. Et, quand le général anglais représentant Cornwallis, qui se disait malade, voulut rendre son épée, c’est à Rochambeau qu’il la tendit. Celui-ci lui désigna Washington qui, respectueux du vaincu, la refuse.

    Nouées dès la capitulation de Cornwallis, les négociations qui suivirent aboutirent, le 3 septembre 1783, au traité de paix de Versailles. Acte de naissance officiel des Etats-Unis, ce traité est aussi le symbole de l’amitié franco-americaine. Une amitié pour laquelle les deux nations auront maintes fois encore [’occasion de « donner leur or et verser leur sang ».

    4th of July-Brotherhood English

    Source Ambassade de France aux USA1778-1783: A Brotherhood of Arms
    The court of Versailles followed closely the events leading up to the American Revolution. When, in 1776, the Thirteen Colonies proclaimed their independance, Vergennes, the Foreign Affairs Secretary, saw a perfect opportunity to take revenge on Britain, and thus advised the King to support the rebels. Fearing a war with the British, Turgot, the Minister of Finance, was less enthusiastic. King Louis XVI was not inclined to assist a rebellion which undermined another monarch. Despite popular opinion in favor of the Revolutionaries, France’s support was far from certain when Benjamin Franklin arrived in Paris on December 27,1776. He joined Silas Deane as American Minister to France. Deane was a wealthy Connecticut businessman, who, chosen in haste, had produced no concrete results. Franklin’s reputation as a man of great learning, who lived modestly, greatly pleased the Court. Franklin soon had French support for the Revolutionary cause. Official aid was at first discreet. But the number of volunteers offering to help the Revolutionaries grew rapidly. There was a great deal to draw young Frenchmen to America: the attraction of new ideas, a thirst to fight their hereditary British enemy, a desire for adventure and the chance for exotic travel in the New World. Several months later, Silas Deane wrote, "the rage to sign up to serve with the Americans is continually growing. As a consequence I am inundated with offers, many from persons of consequential rank…" The King himself had to intervene when members of distinguished families wanted to leave for the New World. The count of Noaille and the count of Ségur, two of the most important names in the French kingdom, wanted to leave with the young Marquis de La Fayette. It was feared that these young men would compromise the neutral position of France. Noailles and Ségur bowed to the pressure, but La Fayette stole onto the boat La Victoire which sailed first to Bordeaux, then to Spain, and finally on to Georgetown, where he arrived in June 1777. Many of the volunteers were greatly disappointed in the New World. Most of them did not speak English and they did not understand how the Revolutionary Army, unlike anything in Europe, could function on a battlefield. Furthermore, their social background made it difficult for them to adapt to the democratic style of George Washington’s soldiers. Welcomed with great enthusiasm in Philadelphia, La Fayette even offered to serve in the army as a foot soldier, and to pay his own way. Franklin, however, explained to the Continental Congress that it would be politically advantageous to enlist foreign soldiers whose families could influence the court at Versailles. La Fayette was finally appointed to the rank of General. Returning to the front just as the English General Howe marched on Philidelphia, he was injured at the battle of Brandywine. Soon after, he followed Washington to his headquarters at Valley Forge. The winter of 1777-1778 was a particularly tough one. Badly clothed, badly nourished and badly armed, Washington’s army was on the verge of collapse. At this point, an attack by the English would almost certainly have changed the course of the war. In Paris, Franklin did his best to convince the court to adopt the American cause officially through a formal alliance with the United States.

    The French to the Rescue

    The resulting Treaty of Commerce and Friendship was signed on February 6, 1778. The Revolutionaries’ situation was such that the French could have made any demand in the treaty, taking advantage of the vulnerable United States. Instead the French policy looked far into the future. Vergennes wrote to his ambassador in London on March 17, 1778: ’We did not want to procure any commercial favors that might make other nations jealous, such that the United States might one day accuse us of taking advantage of them." One week later he stated, "The authorized American deputies were open to giving us anyexclusive rights of trade we might have demanded. We were aware of that. But through the recognition of the United States as a member of the family of nations, the King wanted to create a bond that would serve posterity and be as solid and enduring as is possible in human affairs.’ The French policy prompted Benjamin Franklin, a great student of human nature, to say, "The truth is that this nation loves glory and loves to protect the oppressed." Back on the battlefields of North America, the British began to realize that time was against them. After taking Philidelphia they prepared themselves to deliver the death blow to the Revolutionaries. They wanted to quickly exploit tensions within the Revolutionary ranks, notably the rivalry between Washington and Gates, the victor of the battle of Saratoga. General Clinton took command of the British troops after Howe’s resignation. Fearing a French blockade of the Delaware and an attack on the city by the Continental Army, Clinton moved towards New York.

    Washington followed behind and launched an attack at Monmouth - an audacious military manoeuvre that would have been a decisive victory if Charles Lee, the commander of the vanguard, had not inexplicably disobeyed orders and retreated from ground he had captured and held. Court martialled, Lee, accused by some of treason, was finally released. The error had been commited. Washington was forced to stop his offensive, and instead set up headquarters in New Brunswick while Clinton went on to New York. Arriving in July 1778, the French fleet under Admiral d’Estaing came to the aid of the Revolutionaries, for the first time in force. A siege was planned ; Estaing would move in by sea, while the American General Sullivan would arrive by land to take Newport, Rhode Island. Unfortunately a violent storm arose, putting an end to this first attempt at military cooperation between the new allies. Estaing headed south to the West Indies for the winter. This setback did not bode well for the Americans. Paris would not look kindly on a failed military operation; but the Revolutionaries were very much in need of assistance and reinforcements. At the end of 1778, La Fayette obtained permission from the Continental Congress togo to Versailles. He was well received, and knew how to convince Vergennes and Maurepas to throw the weight of France into the battle. Among the plans that had been envisaged was a large-scale landing in Britain. Ships had been prepared for this purpose. The Project never saw the light of day. But the fleet gathered in Saint Malo and Le Havre made it technically possible to send an expeditionary force to the New World as La Fayette requested. Louis XVI was still worried about dissent among the Revolutionaries and feared that Spain’s Charles III, although allied with France against England, would dislike to decisive an Amerlcan victory next door to his overseas empire. Still, France eventually sent to General Washington 5,000 men chosen from their best troops. La Fayette was too young to command the expeditionary force. He was sent back to America to announce the imminent arrival of the long-awaited re-enforcements under the command of Rochambeau.

    America, we are here

    Leaving Brest, the convoy sighted land at Newport, Rhode Island, on July 11, 1780. Among the officers, were some of the most important names in France : Montmorency, Custine, Chartres, Noailles, Lauzun… The hopes raised by the arrival of the French were short-lived : soon after, a large British fleet was sighted. It was under the command of Admirals Arbuth-not and Rodney. It spoiled the plans for a quick attack on New York. The Hartford meeting, organized by La Fayette between Rochambeau and Washington, resulted in another request for more French reenforcements. Only a full-sized naval force could save the situation. To make matters worse, when Washington returned to his camp at West Point, he learned of Benedict Arnold’s treason. One of the Colonels’ most brilliant military minds had gone over to the enemy. Becoming chief counsellor to General Clinton, Arnold pushed for quick action to exploit the weakness of the Continental Army. Victims of the naval blockade, the American soldiers were neither paid, nor fed, nor clothed. Rochambeau began to worry, quite legitimately, about the effectiveness of these 11 men pushed to the limits of their resources." Once moreLouis XVI and Vergennes responded to the needs of the Revolutionaries. On May 16, 1781, despite the terrible state of French finances, the ship La Concorde brought six million pounds to Washington. The American General wanted to attack New York. Rochambeau, however, thought it more prudent to head South, where the English General Cornwallis had not yet managed to win a decisive victory against the American fighter Greene, who used guerilla tactics. Clinton ordered Cornwallis to keep a minimal force in Yorktown, on the Chesapeake Bay, where they had the support of the Navy ; he would then send the remaining troops to reinforce the garrison in New York, where they thought the major battle would take place. Cornwallis was thus left vulnerable and Washington, knowing that de Grasse’s fleet was en-route, was readily convinced to attack Yorktown. Moreover, de Grasse, who was sailing back to the continent after a series of victories in the West Indies, had sent a message to George Washington, telling him that he preferred fighting in the Chesapeake Bay because it was deeper than the Hudson River, and allowed for greater manoeuvrability.

    On August 19th, crossing New Jersey, the Franco-American troops headed toward Virginia. On August 30th, Washington and Rochambeau triumphantly entered Philadelphia. From there they marched on Yorktown with an army of 18,000 men. There were 9,000 Americans and 5,000 French to which were added 3,300 more when the Marquis de Saint Simon arrived from Saint-Domingue with de Grasse’s fleet. Cornered with a mere 7,000 Redcoats, Cornwallis was in a desperate situation. Hope appeared on September 5th, when 22 ships were sighted on the horizon. The fleet, commanded by Admiral Graves, had left New York two days earlier to rescue Yorktown. The tide seemed to be turning against the Revolutionaries, but de Grasse saved the day. In the Bay, the French ships were sitting ducks. De Grasse manoeuvered brilliantly; he slipped his fleet around Cape Henry and set up in formation around the Ville de Paris, the largest vessel of that period. When the battle began in the open seas, the English had already lost. When the canons stopped, one British ship had sunk andfive more were seriously damaged. No French ships were destroyed and only two were damaged. Graves retreated ; the French victory was complete. Cornwallis had counted on the naval re-enforcements to back him up so he hadn’t bothered to protect his positions. On September 28th, the Revolutionaries deployed their forces : the French on the left next to the Americans followed by La Fayette’s Franco-American corps General Washington’s troops ; and finally the troops under the command of Prussian General von Steuben (who had fought with the Revolutionaries since 1777). The fate of the British was sealed. On October 17th, the anniversary of the surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga, the Star Spangled Banner flew over Yorktown. The defeated British garrison marched between two rows of the victors - the French on the left, the Americans on the right. The officer representing Cornwallis, who claimed to be ill, wanted to surrender his sword to Rochambeau. But the French General, gestured toward Washington, who respectfully refused the sword. The fall of Yorktown, which had been their stronghold, forced the British to negociate. The Treaty of Versailles, signed September 3, 1783, ended the American War of Independence. The official birth certificate of a new nation, this treaty was also a symbol of the friendship between France and the United States. It was a friendship for which the two countries would time and again pay for with their lives.