French Americans
Drapeau Franco-Américain.svg
Franco-American Flag
Regions with significant populations
Predominantly in New England, Arkansas and Louisiana with smaller communities in New York, the Midwest, Tennessee, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, California, Florida and North Carolina

English (American English dialects)
French (CajunAcadianCanadian FrenchHaitian FrenchMissouriNew England French)


Predominantly Roman Catholic, minority Protestant

Related ethnic groups

French, French Canadians, French Canadian Americans, Québécois, Cajuns, Acadians, French Haitians

French Americans (French: Franco-Américains) are citizens or nationals of the United States who identify themselves with having full or partial French or French Canadian heritage, ethnicity, and/or ancestral ties. Sometimes referred to as Franco-Americans, members of this group are also those who have declared allegiance either informally or formally to both France and the United States of America.[1][2][3] Citizens of both France and the United States are commonly referred to as "French-Americans".

As of January 2018, the largest population of French American people are in the state of Maine. The state is home to the largest French-speaking population in the country (Lewiston) and the largest concentration of French people (Madawaska). The second largest state housing French Americans is Louisiana. The largest French-speaking population (in terms of percentage of speakers) in the U.S. is found in St. Martin Parish. Country-wide, there are about 10.4 million U.S. residents that are of French[4] or French Canadian descent, and about 2 million[5] speak French at home as of 2010 census.[6][7] An additional 750,000 U.S. residents speak a French-based creole language, according to the 2011 American Community Survey.[8]

While Americans of French descent make up a substantial percentage of the American population, French Americans are arguably less visible than other similarly sized ethnic groups. This is due in part to the high degree of assimilation among Huguenot (French Protestant) settlers, as well as the tendency of French American groups to identify more strongly with "New World" regional identities such as Québécois, French Canadian, Acadian, Cajun, or Louisiana Creole. This has inhibited the development of an unified French American identity as is the case with other European American ethnic groups.


Unlike other immigrants who came to the United States of America from other countries, some French Americans arrived prior to the founding of the United States. In many parts of the country, like the Midwest and Louisiana, they were the founders of some of these villages, cities, and first state inhabitants. While found throughout the country, French Americans are most numerous in New England, northern New York, the Midwest, and Louisiana. French is the fourth most-spoken language in the country, behind English, Spanish, and Chinese. Often, French Americans are identified more specifically as being of French Canadian, Cajun, or Louisiana Creole descent.[9]

An important part of French American history is the Quebec diaspora of the 1840s-1930s, in which one million French Canadians moved to the United States, principally to the New England states, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Historically, the French Canadians in Canada had among the highest birth rates in world history, which is why their population was large even though immigration from France was relatively low. They also moved to different regions within Canada, namely Québec, Ontario and Manitoba. Many of the early male migrants worked in the lumber industry in both regions, and, to a lesser degree, in the burgeoning mining industry in the upper Great Lakes.


Map of New France about 1750 in North America

Louisiana Creole people refers to those who are descended from the colonial settlers in Louisiana, especially those of French and Spanish descent. The term is now commonly applied to individuals of mixed-race heritage. Both groups have common European heritage and share cultural ties, such as the traditional use of the French language and the continuing practice of Catholicism; in most cases, the people are related to each other. Those of mixed race also sometimes have African and Native American ancestry.[10] As a group, the mixed-race Creoles rapidly began to acquire education, skills (many in New Orleans worked as craftsmen and artisans), businesses and property. They were overwhelmingly Catholic, spoke Colonial French (although some also spoke Louisiana Creole French), and kept up many French social customs, modified by other parts of their ancestry and Louisiana culture. The free people of color married among themselves to maintain their class and social culture. The French-speaking mixed-race population came to be called "Creoles of color".

The Cajuns of Louisiana have a unique heritage. Their ancestors settled Acadia, in what is now the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and part of Maine in the 17th and early 18th centuries. In 1755, after capturing Fort Beauséjour in the region, the British Army forced the Acadians to either swear an oath of loyalty to the British Crown or face expulsion. Thousands refused to take the oath, causing them to be sent, penniless, to the 13 colonies to the south in what has become known as the Great Upheaval. Over the next generation, some four thousand managed to make the long trek to Louisiana, where they began a new life. The name Cajun is a corruption of the word Acadian. Many still live in what is known as the Cajun Country, where much of their colonial culture survives. French Louisiana, when it was sold by Napoleon in 1803, covered all or part of fifteen current U.S. states and contained French and Canadian colonists dispersed across it, though they were most numerous in its southernmost portion.

During the War of 1812, Louisiana residents of French origin took part on the American side in the Battle of New Orleans (December 23, 1814 through January 8, 1815). Jean Lafitte and his Baratarians later were honored by US General Andrew Jackson for their contribution to the defense of New Orleans.[11]

In Louisiana today, more than 15 percent of the population of the Cajun Country reported in the 2000 United States Census that French was spoken at home.[12]

Another significant source of immigrants to Louisiana was Saint-Domingue, which gained its independence as the Republic of Haiti in 1804, following Haitian Revolution; much of its white population (along with some mulattoes) fled during this time, often to New Orleans.[13]

Biloxi in Mississippi, and Mobile in Alabama, still contain French American heritage since they were founded by the Canadian Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville.

The Houma Tribe in Louisiana still speak the same French they had been taught 300 years ago.

Colonial era[]

In the 17th and early 18th centuries there was an influx of a few thousand Huguenots, who were Protestant refugees fleeing religious persecution in France. For nearly a century they fostered a distinctive French Protestant identity that enabled them to remain aloof from American society, but by the time of the American Revolution they had generally intermarried and merged into the larger Presbyterian community.[14]:382 The largest number settling in South Carolina, where the French comprised 4 percent of the white population in 1790.[15][16] With the help of the well organized international Huguenot community, many also moved to Virginia.[17] In the north, Paul Revere of Boston was a prominent figure.


From the beginning of the 17th century, French Canadians explored and traveled to the region with their coureur de bois and explorers, such as Jean Nicolet, Robert de LaSalle, Jacques Marquette, Nicholas Perrot, Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, Pierre Dugué de Boisbriant, Lucien Galtier, Pierre Laclède, René Auguste Chouteau, Julien Dubuque, Pierre de La Vérendrye, and Pierre Parrant.

The Trapper's Bride shows a trapper, Francois, paying $600 in trade goods for an Indian woman to be his wife, ca. 1837

The French Canadians set up a number of villages along the waterways, including Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin; La Baye, Wisconsin; Cahokia, Illinois; Kaskaskia, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan; Saint Ignace, Michigan; Vincennes, Indiana; St. Paul, Minnesota; St. Louis, Missouri; and Sainte Genevieve, Missouri. They also built a series of forts in the area, such as Fort de Chartres, Fort Crevecoeur, Fort Saint Louis, Fort Ouiatenon, Fort Miami (Michigan), Fort Miami (Indiana), Fort Saint Joseph, Fort La Baye, Fort de Buade, Fort Saint Antoine, Fort Crevecoeur, Fort Trempealeau, Fort Beauharnois, Fort Orleans, Fort St. Charles, Fort Kaministiquia, Fort Michilimackinac, Fort Rouillé, Fort Niagara, Fort Le Boeuf, Fort Venango, and Fort Duquesne. The forts were serviced by soldiers and fur trappers who had long networks reaching through the Great Lakes back to Montreal.[18] Sizable agricultural settlements were established in the Pays des Illinois.[19]

The region was relinquished by France to the British in 1763 as a result of the Treaty of Paris. Three years of war by the Natives, called Pontiac's War, ensued. It became part of the Province of Quebec in 1774, and was seized by the United States during the Revolution.[20]

New England, New York State[]

For more details on this topic, see Quebec diaspora.

In the late 19th century, many Francophones arrived in New England from Quebec and New Brunswick to work in textile mill cities in New England. In the same period, Francophones from Quebec soon became a majority of the workers in the saw mill and logging camps in the Adirondack Mountains and their foothills. Others sought opportunities for farming and other trades such as blacksmiths in Northern New York State. By the mid-20th century French Americans comprised 30 percent of Maine's population. Some migrants became lumberjacks but most concentrated in industrialized areas and into enclaves known as "Little Canadas."[21]

The Statue of Liberty is a gift from the French people in memory of the American Declaration of Independence.

French Canadian women saw New England as a place of opportunity and possibility where they could create economic alternatives for themselves distinct from the expectations of their farm families in Canada. By the early 20th century some saw temporary migration to the United States to work as a rite of passage and a time of self-discovery and self-reliance. Most moved permanently to the United States, using the inexpensive railroad system to visit Quebec from time to time. When these women did marry, they had fewer children with longer intervals between children than their Canadian counterparts. Some women never married, and oral accounts suggest that self-reliance and economic independence were important reasons for choosing work over marriage and motherhood. These women conformed to traditional gender ideals in order to retain their 'Canadienne' cultural identity, but they also redefined these roles in ways that provided them increased independence in their roles as wives and mothers.[22][23] The French Americans became active in the Catholic Church where they tried with little success to challenge its domination by Irish clerics.[24] They founded such newspapers as 'Le Messager' and 'La Justice.' The first hospital in Lewiston, Maine, became a reality in 1889 when the Sisters of Charity of Montreal, the 'Grey Nuns,' opened the doors of the Asylum of Our Lady of Lourdes. This hospital was central to the Grey Nuns' mission of providing social services for Lewiston's predominately French Canadian mill workers. The Grey Nuns struggled to establish their institution despite meager financial resources, language barriers, and opposition from the established medical community.[25] Immigration dwindled after World War I.

The French Canadian community in New England tried to preserve some of its cultural norms. This doctrine, like efforts to preserve francophone culture in Quebec, became known as la Survivance.[26]

Potvin (2003) has studied the evolution of French Catholic parishes in New England. The predominantly Irish hierarchy of the 19th century was slow to recognize the need for French-language parishes; several bishops even called for assimilation and English language-only parochial schools. In the 20th century, a number of parochial schools for Francophone students opened, though they gradually closed toward the end of the century and a large share of the French-speaking population left the Church. At the same time, the number of priests available to staff these parishes also diminished.

By the 21st century the emphasis was on retaining local reminders of French American culture rather than on retaining the language itself.[27] With the decline of the state's textile industry during the 1950s, the French element experienced a period of upward mobility and assimilation. This pattern of assimilation increased during the 1970s and 1980s as many Catholic organizations switched to English names and parish children entered public schools; some parochial schools closed in the 1970s. Although some ties to its French Canadian origins remain, the community was largely anglicized by the 1990s, moving almost completely from 'Canadien' to 'American'.[21][28]

Noted American popular culture figures who maintained a close connection to their French roots include musician Rudy Vallée (1901–1986) who grew up in Westbrook, Maine, a child of a French-Canadian father and an Irish mother,[29] and counter-culture author Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) who grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts. Kerouac was the child of two French-Canadian immigrants, and wrote in both English and French. French-American politicians from New England include U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R, New Hampshire) and Presidential adviser Jon Favreau, who was born and raised in Massachusetts.

Civil War[]

French Americans in the Union forces were one of the most important Catholic groups present during the American Civil War. The exact number is unclear, but thousands of French Americans appear to have served in this conflict. Union forces did not keep reliable statistics concerning foreign enlistments. However, historians have estimated anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 French Americans serving in this war. In addition to those born in the United States, many who served in the Union forces came from Canada or had resided there for several years. Canada's national anthem was written by such a soldier named Calixa Lavallée, who wrote this anthem while he served for the Union, attaining the rank of Lieutenant.[30] Leading Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard was a noted French American from Louisiana.


Walker (1962) examines the voting behavior in U.S. presidential elections from 1880 to 1960, using election returns from 30 French American communities in New England, along with sample survey data for the 1948-60 elections. From 1896 to 1924, French Americans typically supported the Republican Party because of its conservatism, emphasis on order, and advocacy of the tariff to protect the textile workers from foreign competition. In 1928, with Catholic Al Smith as the Democratic candidate, the French Americans moved over to the Democratic column and stayed there for six presidential elections. They formed part of the New Deal Coalition. Unlike the Irish and German Catholics, very few French Americans deserted the Democratic ranks because of the foreign policy and war issues of the 1940 and 1944 campaigns. In 1952 many French Americans broke from the Democrats but returned heavily in 1960.[31]

As the ancestors of most French Americans had for the most part left France before the French Revolution, they usually prefer the Fleur-de-lis to the modern French tricolor.[32]

Franco-American Day[]

In 2008, the state of Connecticut made June 24 Franco-American Day, recognizing French Canadians for their culture and influence on Connecticut. The states of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, have now also held Franco-American Day festivals on June 24.[33]


Distribution of Franco Americans according to the 2000 census

According to the U.S. Census Bureau of 2000, 5.3 percent of Americans are of French or French Canadian ancestry. In 2013 the number of people living in the US who were born in France was estimated at 129,520.[34] French Americans made up close to, or more than, 10 percent of the population of seven states, six in New England and Louisiana. Population wise, California has the greatest Franco population followed by Louisiana, while Maine has the highest by percentage (25 percent).

States with the highest percentage of Francos
State Percentage
Maine 25.0%
New Hampshire 24.5%
Vermont 23.9%
Rhode Island 17.2%
Louisiana 16.2%
Massachusetts 12.9%
Connecticut 9.9%
Michigan 6.8%
Montana 5.3%
Minnesota 5.3%
State Percentage
Wisconsin 5.0%
North Dakota 4.7%
Washington 4.6%
Oregon 4.6%
Wyoming 4.2%
Alaska 4.2%
Missouri 3.8%
Kansas 3.6%
Indiana 2.7%
Ohio 2.5%
States with the largest Franco communities
State Population
California 1,303,714
Louisiana 1,069,558
Massachusetts 947,319
Michigan 942,230
New York 834,540
Texas 673,606
Florida 618,426
Illinois 485,902
Ohio 464,159
Connecticut 370,490
Maine 347,510
State Population
Wisconsin 346,406
Missouri 345,971
Washington 339,950
Pennsylvania 338,041
New Hampshire 337,225
Minnesota 321,087
New Jersey 213,815
Virginia 212,373
Oregon 209,239
Rhode Island 206,540
Vermont 165,623


Creole girls, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, 1935

Most Franco Americans have a Roman Catholic heritage (which includes most French Canadians and Cajuns). Besides the Protestant Huguenots who fled from France in the colonial era, there were some Protestants from Switzerland who came in the 19th century.[35]

From the 1870s to the 1920s in particular, there was tension between the English-speaking Irish Catholics, who dominated the Church in New England, and the French immigrants, who wanted their language taught in the parochial schools. The Irish controlled all the Catholic colleges in New England, except for Assumption College in Massachusetts, controlled by the French, and one school in New Hampshire controlled by Germans. Tensions between these two groups bubbled up in Fall River in 1884-1886, in Danielson, Connecticut, and North Brookfield, Massachusetts in the 1890s, and in Maine in the subsequent decades.[36][37][38] A breaking point was reached during the Sentinelle affair of the 1920s, in which Franco-American Catholics of Woonsocket,[39] Rhode Island, challenged their bishop over control of parish funds in an unsuccessful bid to wrest power from the Irish American episcopate.[40]

Marie Rose Ferron was a mystic stigmatic; she was born in Quebec and lived in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Between about 1925 and 1936, she was a popular "victim soul" who suffered physically to redeem the sins of her community. Father Onésime Boyer promoted her cult.[41]


Currently there are multiple French international schools in the United States operated in conjunction with the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE).[42]

French language in the United States[]

For more details on this topic, see French language in the United States.

According to the National Education Bureau, French is the second most commonly taught foreign language in American schools, behind Spanish. The percentage of people who learn French language in the United States is 12.3%.[34] French was the most commonly taught foreign language until the 1980s; when the influx of Hispanic immigrants aided the growth of Spanish. According to the U.S. 2000 Census, French is the third most spoken language in the United States after English and Spanish, with 2,097,206 speakers, up from 1,930,404 in 1990. The language is also commonly spoken by Haitian immigrants in Florida and New York City.[43]

As a result of French immigration to what is now the United States in the 17th and 18th centuries, the French language was once widely spoken in a few dozen scattered villages in the Midwest. Migrants from Quebec after 1860 brought the language to New England. French-language newspapers existed in many American cities; especially New Orleans and in certain cities in New England. Americans of French descent often lived in predominantly French neighborhoods; where they attended schools and churches that used their language. Before 1920 French Canadian neighborhoods were sometimes known as "Little Canada".[44]

After 1960, the "Little Canadas" faded away.[45] There were few French-language institutions other than Catholic churches. There were some French newspapers, but they had a total of only 50,000 subscribers in 1935.[46] The World War II generation avoided bilingual education for their children, and insisted they speak English.[47] By 1976, nine in ten Franco Americans usually spoke English and scholars generally agreed that "the younger generation of Franco-American youth had rejected their heritage."[48]

Cities founded by the French and French Canadians[]

St. Philip Street at Royal Street, French Quarter, New Orleans.

  • Biloxi, Mississippi founded in 1699 by Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville.
  • Boise, Idaho, founded in the 1820s by French fur traders, means "wooded."
  • Bourbonnais, Illinois named after French Canadian fur trader Francois Bourbonnais. The first permanent resident was French Canadian fur trader Noel LeVasseur in the 1830s.
  • Chicago, Illinois is derived from a French rendering of the Native American word shikaakwa, translated as "wild onion" or "wild garlic", from the Miami-Illinois language.[49][50][51][52] The first known reference to the site of the current city of Chicago as "Checagou" was by Robert de LaSalle around 1679 in a memoir written about the time.[53] Henri Joutel, in his journal of 1688, noted that the wild garlic, called "chicagoua," grew abundantly in the area.[50]
  • Coeur d'Alene, Idaho French Canadian fur traders allegedly named the local Indian tribe the Coeur d'Alene out of respect for their tough trading practices. Cœur d'alêne literally means "heart of the awl."
  • Davenport, Iowa was founded by Antoine LeClaire, a US army interpreter, in 1836.
  • Detroit, Michigan was founded by Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac in 1701, a French army captain, and was originally called Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit, after the minister of marine under Louis XIV and the French word Détroit for "strait."
  • Dubuque, Iowa was established as a lead mining site by Canadian Julien Dubuque in 1788
  • Dupont, Colorado, Du Pont, Georgia, Dupont, Indiana, Dupont, Ohio, Dupont, Pennsylvania, Dupont, Tennessee, DuPont, Washington, all founded by the Du Pont family or other French settlers.
  • French Camp, California was the terminus of the Oregon-California Trail used by French-Canadian fur traders (including Michel Laframboise)in the 1830s and 1840s, making it one of the oldest settlements in San Joaquin County.
  • Green Bay, Wisconsin or La Baye, was founded by Jean Nicolet in 1634. Many residents of Green Bay are direct descendants of the French Canadian inhabitants and their families.
  • Juneau, Alaska was founded in 1891 and named in honor of Joseph Juneau, a gold prospector from the region of Montreal, who settled the first mining camp in the area.
  • Kaskaskia, Illinois was founded in 1703 by French Jesuit missionaries and was Illinois's first capital.
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin was founded settled by French traders most notably Jacques Vieau and established as a city by Solomon Juneau
  • Mobile, Alabama founded in 1702 by Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville and his brother Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne. It was the first capital of Louisiana.
  • Natchitoches, Louisiana was founded in 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis.
  • New Orleans, Louisiana was founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne.
  • New Paltz, New York was founded in 1678 by French Huguenots settlers, including Louis DuBois.
  • New Rochelle, New York was founded by French Huguenots and named after La Rochelle, France.
  • Pierre, South Dakota was named after Pierre Chouteau, Jr., a fur trader of French Canadian origin, who built Fort Pierre, where the capital of Pierre stands today.
  • Portage Des Sioux was founded in 1799 by Zenon Trudeau and François Saucier.
  • Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin established in 1685 by Nicholas Perrot as a fur trading post.
  • Prairie du Rocher, Illinois was founded in 1722 by Sister Thérèse Langlois, four years after Fort de Chartres was built by Pierre Dugué de Boisbriand.
  • Saint Charles, Missouri was founded by Louis Blanchette, a French Canadian, in 1769.
  • Saint Louis, Missouri was founded by a French trader, Pierre Laclède, and his stepson, a trader from Louisiana, René Auguste Chouteau in 1764.
  • Sainte Genevieve, Missouri was founded in 1735 by habitants.
  • Saint Ignace, Michigan was founded by father Jacques Marquette in 1671.
  • St. Joseph, Missouri was founded by Joseph Robidoux c. 1826.
  • Saint Paul, Minnesota was established in 1838 by Pierre Parrant and settled by French Canadians. In 1841, it was named Saint-Paul by Father Lucien Galtier in honor of Paul the Apostle.
  • Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan was founded in 1668 by fathers Jacques Marquette and Claude Dablon
  • Vincennes, Indiana was established in 1732 by François-Marie Bissot, Sieur de Vincennes and rallied to the cause of the American revolution with Father Pierre Gibault.

American states first settled by French and French-Canadian settlers[]

  • Arkansas – named by French explorers from the corrupted Indian word meaning "south wind". Arkansas Post was its first French establishment in 1686 by Henri de Tonti.
  • Illinois – French for the land of the Illini, a Native American tribe. Also named from the Pays des Illinois which had a substantial population at the time of New France. French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet explored the Illinois River in 1673. In 1680, other French explorers constructed a fort at the site of present-day Peoria, and in 1682, a fort atop Starved Rock in today's Starved Rock State Park. French Canadians came south to settle particularly along the Mississippi River, and Illinois was part of the French empire of La Louisiane until 1763, when it passed to the British with their defeat of France in the Seven Years' War.
  • Indiana – In 1679 the French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle was the first European to cross into Indiana after reaching present-day South Bend at the Saint Joseph River.[54] French-Canadian fur traders soon arrived, bringing blankets, jewelry, tools, whiskey and weapons to trade for skins with the Native Americans. By 1702, Sieur Juchereau established the first trading post near Vincennes. In 1715, Sieur de Vincennes built Fort Miami at Kekionga, now Fort Wayne. In 1717, another Canadian, Picote de Beletre, built Fort Ouiatenon on the Wabash River. In 1732, Sieur de Vincennes built a second fur trading post at Vincennes. French Canadian settlers, who had left the earlier post because of hostilities, returned in larger numbers.
  • Louisiana – from the French Louisiane, in honor of King Louis XIV of France. Named by Cavelier de La Salle who founded Louisiana and died in Texas. Many Acadians migrated to Louisiana and are today known as Cajuns.
  • Maine – Two Jesuit missions were established by the French: one on Penobscot Bay in 1609, and the other on Mount Desert Island in 1613. The same year, Castine was established by Claude de La Tour. In 1625, Charles de Saint-Étienne de la Tour erected Fort Pentagouet to protect Castine.
  • Michigan – French transcription of Ojibwe word Mishii'igan (syncopated as Mishiigan) which means "great lake". The French forts of Fort Saint-Joseph and Fort Michilimackinac, as well as the French establishments of Detroit and Saint Ignace were located in the area of Michigan which was part of New France.
  • Minnesota – The first Europeans in the area were French fur traders who arrived in the 17th century. Explorers such as Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, Father Louis Hennepin, and Joseph Nicollet, among others, mapped out the state.
  • Missouri – The first European settlers were mostly ethnic French Canadians, who created their first settlement in Missouri at present-day Ste. Genevieve, about an hour south of St. Louis. They had migrated about 1750 from the Illinois Country. St. Louis was founded soon after by French from New Orleans in 1764.
  • Vermont – comes from a contraction of French words, Vert, green, and mont, mount, mountain. It was named by the French explorer Samuel de Champlain. French seigneuries were subdivided along Lake Champlain at the time of New France, which was later given to the British colonies by the Treaty of Paris in 1763.
  • Wisconsin – named after the Meskousing River. This spelling was later corrupted from the local Native American language to "Ouisconsin" by French explorers, and over time this version became the French name for both the Wisconsin River and the surrounding lands. La Baye was Wisconsin's main community at the time of New France. English speakers anglicized the spelling to its modern form when they began to arrive in greater numbers during the early 19th century.[55]


Richard (2002) examines the major trends in the historiography regarding the Franco-Americans who came to New England in 1860–1930. He identifies three categories of scholars: survivalists, who emphasized the common destiny of Franco-Americans and celebrated their survival; regionalists and social historians, who aimed to uncover the diversity of the Franco-American past in distinctive communities across New England; and pragmatists, who argued that the forces of acculturation were too strong for the Franco-American community to overcome. The 'pragmatists versus survivalists' debate over the fate of the Franco-American community may be the ultimate weakness of Franco-American historiography. Such teleological stances have impeded the progress of research by funneling scholarly energies in limited directions while many other avenues, for example, Franco-American politics, arts, and ties to Quebec, remain insufficiently explored.[56]

While a considerable number of pioneers of Franco-American history left the field or came to the end of their careers in the late 1990s, other scholars have moved the lines of debate in new directions in the last fifteen years. The “Franco” communities of New England have received less sustained scholarly attention in this period, but important work has no less appeared as historians have sought to assert the relevance of the French-Canadian diaspora to the larger narratives of American immigration, labor, and religious history.

Scholars have worked to expand the transnational perspective developed by Robert G. LeBlanc during the 1980s and 1990s.[57] Yukari Takai has studied the impact of recurrent cross-border migration on family formation and gender roles among Franco-Americans.[58] Florence Mae Waldron has expanded on older work by Tamara Hareven and Randolph Langenbach in her study of Franco-American women’s work within prevalent American gender norms.[59] Waldron’s innovative work on the national aspirations and agency of women religious in New England also merits mention.[60] Historians have pushed the lines of inquiry on Franco-Americans of New England in other directions as well. Recent studies have introduced a comparative perspective, considered the surprisingly understudied 1920s and 1930s, and reconsidered old debates on assimilation and religious conflict in light of new sources.[61][62][63]

At the same time, there has been rapidly expanding research on the French presence in the middle and western part of the continent (the American Midwest, the Pacific coast, and the Great Lakes region) in the century following the collapse of New France.[64][65][66][67]

Immigration from France, Canada, and Acadia[]

French immigration to the United States from 1827 to 1870[68]:39
Year French Immigrants Year French Immigrants
1827 1,280 1849 5,841
1828 2,843 1850 9,389
1829 582 1851 20,126
1830 1,174 1852 6,763
1831 2,038 1853 10,170
1832 5,361 1854 13,317
1833 4,682 1855 6,044
1834 2,989 1856 7,246
1835 2,696 1857 2,397
1836 4,443 1858 3,155
1837 5,074 1859 2,579
1838 3,675 1860 3,961
1839 7,198 1861 2,326
1840 7,419 1862 3,142
1841 5,006 1863 1,838
1842 4,504 1864 3,128
1843 3,346 1865 6,855
1844 3,155 1866 6,855
1845 3,155 1867 5,237
1846 10,583 1868 1,989
1847 20,040 1869 4,531
1848 7,743 1870 5,120
Total 242,231

Between 1820 and 1920, 530,000 French people came to the United States

Distribution of French Americans in certain parts of the United States [69][70]
State(s) Franco-Americans Percentage
Midwest 2,550,000 21.6%
New England 2,320,000 19.7%
California 1,210,000 10.3%
Louisiana 1,070,000 9.7%
New York 835,300 7.1%
Florida 630,000 5.3%
Total 8,615,300 73%
Deportation of Acadians from Acadia to Thirteen British Colonies in 1755 [71]
State Acadians Percentage
Massachusetts 2,000 26.75%
Virginia 1,500 20.06%
Carolinas 1,027 13.74%
Maryland 1,000 13.38%
Connecticut 700 9.4%
Pennsylvania 500 6.7%
Georgia 450 6.0%
New York 300 4.0%
Total 7,477 100%
Acadian immigration to Louisiana from Canada, New England, and France
from 1763 to 1790 [71]
From Acadians Percentage Years
Canada 4,000 56.34% 1763–1790
New England 1,500 21.13% 1765–1770
France 1,600 22.54% 1785
Total 7,100 100%

Notable people[]

See also[]


  1. ^ "French Americans - Dictionary definition of French Americans | FREE online dictionary" (in en). 
  2. ^ "Franco-American Alliance | French-United States history [1778"] (in en). Encyclopedia Britannica. 
  3. ^ Barkan, Elliott Robert (2013-01-17) (in en). Immigrants in American History: Arrival, Adaptation, and Integration [4 volumes: Arrival, Adaptation, and Integration]. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781598842203. 
  4. ^ Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Census 2013, ACS Ancestry estimates
  5. ^ U.S. Census Bureau (2003). "Language Use and English-Speaking Ability: 2000". U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration. Retrieved 2 March 2012. 
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  12. ^ 1.6 million Americans over the age of five speak the language at home; Language Use and English-Speaking Ability, fig. 3 (PDF)
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  35. ^ Auto racer Louis Chevrolet was a Swiss Catholic. He made automobiles bearing his name before selling out in 1915; General Motors purchased the brand in 1917.
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  37. ^ (2016) "A Church of Two Steeples: Catholicism, Labor, and Ethnicity in Industrial New England, 1869-1890". Catholic Historical Review 102 (4): 746–770. 
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  53. ^ Quaife, Milton M. Checagou, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press., 1933).
  54. ^ Allison, p. 17.
  55. ^ "Origin of State Names". Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
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  62. ^ (2016) "‘Sunk into Poverty and Despair: Franco-American Clergy Letters to FDR during the Great Depression". Quebec Studies 61: 39–52. 
  63. ^ (2016) "A Church of Two Steeples: Catholicism, Labor, and Ethnicity in Industrial New England, 1869-1890". Catholic Historical Review 102 (4): 746–770. 
  64. ^ Gitlin, Jay (2009). The Bourgeois Frontier: French Towns, French Traders, and American Expansion. New Haven: Yale University Press. 
  65. ^ Englebert, Robert; Teasdale, Guillaume, eds (2013). French and Indians in the Heart of America, 1630-1815. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press. 
  66. ^ Barman, Jean (2014). French Canadians, Furs, and Indigenous Women in the Making of the Pacific Northwest. Vancouver: UBC Press. 
  67. ^ Teasdale, Guillaume; Villerbu, Tangi, eds (2015). Une Amérique française, 1760-1860: Dynamiques du corridor créole. Paris: Les Indes savantes. 
  68. ^ Fohlen, Claude (1990). "Perspectives historiques sur l'immigration française aux États-Unis". Revue européenne des migrations internationales 6 (1): 29–43. Retrieved on December 4, 2012. 
  69. ^ Source of the data: US Census Bureau, « Population Group: French (except Basque) », recensement de 2010 (9,529,969 habitants)
  70. ^ US Census Bureau, « Population Group: French Canadian », recensement de 2010 (2,265,648 habitants)
  71. ^ a b Source of the data: Histoire des Acadiens, Bona Arsenault, Éditions Leméac, Ottawa, 1978


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Primary sources[]

  • Madore, Nelson, and Barry Rodrigue, eds. Voyages: A Maine Franco-American Reader (2009)
  • Robbins, Rhea Cote. 'down the Plains,' (2013)
  • Robbins, Rhea Cote. Wednesday's Child (2008)
  • Robbins, Rhea Cote, ed. Canuck and Other Stories (2006)

External links[]