French refugees from Saint Domingue to the southern United States: 1791-1810

Babb, Winston Chandler, University of Virginia

The purposed of this study is to trace the French refugees from the West Indies, chiefly Santo Domingo, who fled during the French Revolutionary uprisings to the southern part of the United States. The flights began as early as 1791 and continued for the better part of two decades as the Revolution turned into a series of race wars between whites, mulattoes, and Negros which were complicated by the Napoleonic struggles in Europe and by various Spanish and English expeditions to the islands. Some refugees came direct while others spent varying periods of time in a Spanish or English colony before reaching one of the four major southern ports: Baltimore, Norfolk, Charleston, or New Orleans. The cream of the French colonials in culture, wealth, and ability as well as the artisans and slaves, people of all shades of color from the black born in Africa to the Paris-born white noble of France, landed virtually penniless in an alien land where they were forced to make an entirely new life. Fleeing bloody massacres they came by thousands to meet in most instances a warm welcome and financial assistance from Americans and Spaniards.

Some of the refugees stayed where they landed, others moved to different parts of the country; some returned, to their later sorrow, to the islands to regain their lost property; and some eventually made their way back to France. Probably the majority stayed in America where they eventually lost their separate identity through intermarriage with the French people already here or with Americans of other nationalities in the melting pot of the growing republic. But they constituted a significant number in the port cities there they congregated and their culture, their manners, their professional and business abilities, their gracious way of living made a lasting impression on their foster home.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
French -- United States, French -- Southern states
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