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Tag: History

andre-roussimof-geant-catch-documentaire-hbo
A Documentary on the French Giant of American Wrestling

Frenchman André René Roussimoff was worshipped in the United States as the greatest wrestler in living memory. He passed away in 1993, and remains a figure shrouded in mystery. In an HBO documentary beginning on April 10, American director Jason Hehir offers an intimate portrayal of the man everyone knew as "André the Giant." Twenty-five years following his death, André...

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Gwenn ha Du, the Breton Cousin of the Stars and Stripes

At the Saint Patrick’s Day parade held every March 17 on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, it is common to see Bretons flying their black and white flag, which is in fact inspired by the Star-Spangled Banner of the United States. The French and American flags share the same colors, but the Stars and Stripes actually have more in common with...

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The Great Cat Massacre: French History Revealed by the Americans

In 1730 in Paris, two apprentice printers staged a trial for their masters’ cats, condemned them to death by hanging, and carried out the sentence. This tragic event in the history of France continues to fascinate American historians and actors today. The Great Cat Massacre on the Rue Saint-Séverin was, in the words of the perpetrators, "the funniest thing that ever...

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The Gruesome Origins of Valentine’s Day

Let’s take a look at the origins of Valentine’s Day, which over the years has been a pagan festival, a Catholic celebration, a sordid medieval custom, a romantic tradition, and a commercial ritual marketed by U.S. postcard vendors. The United States has a taste for festivities, and far more so than France. Americans constantly move from one event to the...

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Bessie Coleman: Black Wings Over France

On June 15, 1921, Bessie Coleman became the world’s first Afro-American woman pilot. At a time when no school in America was ready to admit a colored student, she earned her license from Le Crotoy in Northern France. Seen today as a pioneer of emancipation of women and Blacks, Bessie Coleman is a legend in the United States. In 1915,...

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The Invention of Santa Claus: From Thomas Nast to Coca-Cola

Père Janvier, Father Christmas, Christkindl, Santa Claus…Whatever name you happen to give him, Father Christmas and his origins still spur controversy. Coca-Cola may have claimed ownership of the symbol and widely circulated the image of a bearded and smiling Father Christmas, yet the brand didn’t actually invent anything. Much earlier, the American cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840-1902) fashioned Father Christmas’s image...[Subscriber]

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In Search of the Franc-Comtois People of America

Billy Fumey dreamed of being a cowboy when he was a child, but the young man has actually become an American "emissary" for his native French region of Franche-Comté. Guitar in hand, he tours Missouri, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, following in the footsteps of the first Franc-Comtois settlers. The inhabitants of Besançon in Eastern France know that their city shares...

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Remembering the Americans Who Gave Their Lives for France

A U.S. government agency founded in 1923 with offices outside of Paris continues to preserve the memory of the 67,629 American soldiers killed during the two World Wars and buried in France. The 150 students from the elementary school in Charly-sur-Marne have just left, and the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery falls silent once again. This military cemetery covers 42 acres of...

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The French Revolution and the Birth of American Feminism
OZY

On January 24, 1793, when France officially broke ties with England during a bloody revolution that had just seen the beheading of King Louis XVI, cannons rang out in Boston to celebrate the new French Republic’s first victory. Although the American government did not support the revolution, everyday Bostonians celebrated their allies across the Atlantic. Exceptionally, women gathered and rejoiced...

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The Harlem Hellfighters: African-American Fighters in French Uniforms

Some 4,500 Black American soldiers, victims of segregation laws in force in the U.S. army, fought in French uniforms during World War I. Nicknamed the Harlem Hellfighters, these soldiers displayed exceptional valor in combat. Here is their incredible yet little-known story. "Up the wide avenue they swung. Their smiles outshone the golden sunlight […]. New York turned out to tender...[Subscriber]

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The First Transatlantic Flight is French, Claims Paris

The city of Paris claimed that two French pilots were the first to make a non-stop flight between mainland Europe and America, a title that for decades has belonged to American legend Charles Lindbergh. In the 16th arrondissement of Paris, a plaque in the street named after French aviators Charles Nungesser and François Coli has been recently changed to read...

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The Struggle of 19th Century Women Artists in Paris

Despite the challenges, aspiring female artists flocked to Paris in the second half of the 19th century to seek careers as painters. In the face of societal and institutional pressures, these women created non-traditional paintings that played to their unique strengths. A selection of these will be shown in "Women Artists in Paris 1850-1900", an exhibition sponsored by the American...[Subscriber]

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Are Statues Historical or Political Symbols?
Bloomberg

The French have stories to share with the U.S. in their current struggle over Confederate statues and symbols. The tension caused by figures such as Southern general Robert E. Lee resembles the attitude of the French toward the French Revolution or later, the emperor Napoleon. In an op-ed for Bloomberg, Francis Wilkinson draws parallels between Confederate monuments in America and...

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Urban Revolts, from Detroit to Clichy-sous-Bois

Caroline Rolland-Diamond is a historian at Nanterre University near Paris, and is specialized in American social movements. She is currently drawing parallels between the Detroit riots of 1967 (whose 50th anniversary will be commemorated this summer) and civil disturbance in the French suburbs. On July 24, she will be taking part in a conference held at Wayne State University in...

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Anne Morgan, an American Heart

Anne Morgan, daughter of U.S. banking tycoon J.P. Morgan, was certainly from a “good family,” but was anything but faint-hearted. From 1917 to 1924, she led major private fundraising campaigns and recruited an army of 350 U.S. women volunteers to help civilians in war-ravaged France less than 30 miles from the front. A touring exhibition on the life of the...

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Revolution as Play in France

On July 14, Americans celebrate Bastille Day. On this day, the French celebrate more than their National Day or the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille: They celebrate the everlasting spirit of the 1789 Revolution. “The French are better at fighting revolutions than making reforms”, wrote Alexis de Tocqueville in his notes in 1848. As a Deputy of the Manche...

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WBUR
Cheating, an Old Tour Tradition

This year’s Tour de France, which began on July 1, drew scandal once again when veteran Portuguese cyclist Andre Cardoso was suspended after testing positive for a prohibited drug, one also used by Lance Armstrong when he won the seven Tour titles that were taken away when his cheating was discovered in 2012. But cheating has actually been a part...

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Jazz, a Transatlantic Love Story

The arrival of the ocean liner Queen Mary II in New York harbor, on Saturday, July 1, marks the return voyage of the first American soldiers who fought in France during Wold War I, but also the birth of a new form of music, jazz. A number of African-American musicians took advantage of the French infatuation with this new American art form and...

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Château de Blérancourt Restored with Two Million Dollars from U.S. Patrons

The Franco-American museum, Château de Blérancourt, in Picardy, has been closed for renovation for 12 years, and will reopen on Sunday, June 25. This major project was made possible by a U.S. charity, the American Friends of Blérancourt. The Executive Director of the American Friends of Blérancourt, Larry Horne, is preparing for the big day in his office, located on...

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A Monument in Honor of the Native American Soldiers of D-Day

A memorial stone was inaugurated in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer in the Calvados département on June 5, 2017, to honor the Native American soldiers who died during the Normandy Landings on Omaha Beach in 1944. A chapter of history that deserves to be remembered. Almost 25,000 Native American soldiers fought in World War II. History (and Hollywood) have remembered the role played by Navajo...

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300 Years of French Culture in Alabama

Sixteen years before they founded New Orleans, the French established a settlement on the Gulf of Mexico, a town now called Mobile, in Alabama. To celebrate the bi-centennial of its annexation by the United States, Alabama is organizing a symposium on its French heritage this weekend. We asked Steve Murray, director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, to...