Saturday, 11 January 2014

New France

New France, the French empire in North America from 1608 to 1763. New France commanded two continental river systems, the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi. By their control of these two great rivers and their ability to form alliances with indigenous nations, the French made themselves the dominant power on the continent for 150 years. New France comprised the regions of Canada, Acadia, Louisiana, and part of Newfoundland and Labrador.. Most of the settler population lived in Canada, and most of their descendants still live there, in the province of Québec.
A Beginnings
At the end of the 16th century the fishing and whaling grounds of the Grand Banks and the Gulf of St. Lawrence swarmed with fishers and whalers from western Europe. They found they could add to their income by trading cheap metal goods for the furs the indigenous people offered them. Thus the fur trade became a goal in its own right.
A1 Early Charters
To extend its control over the region, the French monarchy granted mining and fur trading monopolies to individuals. One such grantee was Pierre du Gua, Sieur de Monts, who in 1603 received a monopoly for trade in Acadia. In 1604 he and his associate Samuel de Champlain built a base there, which they moved the next year to Port Royal (now Annapolis Royal) on the Bay of Fundy. This was the first year-round European settlement in what is now Canada. Three years later the monopoly was revoked, but Champlain came back in 1608 and established a trading post at the narrows of the St. Lawrence. He called this post Québec. For most of the next 27 years Champlain remained in command there, trying to develop the colony.
The French government, however, was more interested in short-term profits than in building colonies. It did not become serious about developing its North American colonies until 1627 when King Louis XIII’s chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu, set up the Company of One Hundred Associates and gave it the monopoly. Each of the company’s associates had to invest 3000 livres (in today’s money, about $100,000) and bring in 200 to 300 settlers a year for 15 years. The main purpose of this company was to convert the indigenous peoples to Christianity; its monopoly of the fur trade was to provide the finances for that task. At that time, all the settlers in Acadia and Canada together were estimated to number 107. To the south, by contrast, the English and Dutch already numbered at least 2600.
A2 Relations With Indigenous Nations
Champlain formed military alliances with the neighboring Algonquin, Montagnais, and Huron nations. The French wanted to obtain furs for the European trade and to convert these pagan nations to Christianity. The Algonquin and Montagnais were nomadic hunters and gatherers; they could supply the furs. The Huron were sedentary farmers, growing corn, beans, and squash in present-day southern Ontario. They could provide the converts. These nations welcomed the French, who provided their wonderful metal goods and cloth in exchange for a few furs. Relations between the French and these indigenous people were good, mainly because the French, unlike the English, did not covet the lands of the inhabitants. They never tried to displace the indigenous peoples, but instead settled on vacant land.
Good relations with these allies, however, meant bad relations with their enemies. These nations had a common enemy to the south, the powerful Iroquois confederacy. In 1609 Champlain, with two of his men, joined a war party of their allies in invading the territory of one Iroquois group, the Mohawk. The ensuing clash with a Mohawk hunting party began a century of intermittent but costly warfare between the French and the Iroquois.
A3 The Missionaries
In 1613 Champlain persuaded an organization of Roman Catholic priests, known as the Récollets, to send four missionaries to Canada to convert the indigenous peoples to Christianity. They were followed in 1625 by four members of another Catholic priestly organization, the Society of Jesus or Jesuits. By 1633 the Jesuits had replaced the Récollets in New France and established a mission in Huronia, their name for the land where the Huron lived. Living in several large villages between Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay, the Huron numbered around 20,000 people. Here the Jesuits made many converts, but as many or more clung to their old beliefs. The Huron were thus divided into hostile religious factions. In addition, their numbers had been reduced by half from an epidemic of European origin to which they had no natural resistance. They were thus easy prey for the Iroquois, who launched a major assault on them in 1648. By the following year the Huron nation was crushed and dispersed; many of its people were assimilated by the Iroquois to replace their own heavy losses.
The Canadian settlements at Québec and Trois-Rivières also came under attack during this period. Nevertheless in 1642 a group of devout Catholics established a missionary base on the Île de Montréal (Montréal Island) and managed to survive frequent Iroquois assaults. By 1698 the French and their indigenous allies had defeated the Iroquois, who had lost half their warriors in battle or from epidemics. In 1701 the Iroquois were forced to accept French terms for peace by the Treaty of Montréal.
A4 Reorganization
The 100 associates saw little return on their investment, and few of the indigenous people were converted to Christianity. Hence in 1645 the associates leased their fur trade monopoly to the colonists, who formed a corporation, the Community of Habitants, and assumed the colony’s administrative costs. Two years later the king appointed a council at Québec consisting of the governor-general, the head of the colony’s Jesuits, the governor of Montréal, and a secretary. In 1657 the council was reorganized to consist of the governor-general, the resident agent of the Company of One Hundred Associates, and four councillors elected by the residents of the three districts—Québec, Trois-Rivières, and Montréal. Thus, the colony now had a form of representative government. Unfortunately it proved to be incompetent; its self-serving members ran up huge debts for supplies shipped from La Rochelle, France.
At this time the Iroquois were inflicting heavy casualties on the settlers. They also blocked the flow of furs coming from the west, the economic lifeblood of the colony. Very few settlers came from France, and many who had come gave up and returned to the mother country. By 1660 the population of Canada and Acadia was barely 2500. Colonization by private enterprise had proved a conspicuous failure. Only the monarchy could save New France.
Fortunately King Louis XIV was able and willing to take charge of all the French colonies. In 1663 New France became a province of France, like Brittany or Normandy (Normandie), but owing to the slowness of trans-Atlantic communications, one with far more independence. The minister in charge of colonial affairs, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, was a very competent administrator. He reorganized the government of New France, providing it with an efficient administrative structure. The government of the colony now consisted of a governor-general, an intendant, and a Sovereign Council, all located at Québec, with local governors at Trois-Rivières and Montréal, and law courts for all three districts. The senior official was the governor-general, responsible for military matters and for relations with the indigenous nations and the English colonies. The intendant, a noble trained in law, was the official responsible for civil affairs: justice, law enforcement, and the maintenance of the colony’s finances.
B Expansion and Exploration
After Louis XIV took charge of the colonies in 1663 and the Iroquois were temporarily forced to come to terms, New France began to expand to the west, looking for furs and a direct route to the Pacific. The French had the means for this expansion: alliances with the indigenous peoples and control of the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes. They also had a means of transport—the birch bark canoe—which they had adopted from their indigenous allies.
The French had learned early of a mighty river flowing south of the Great Lakes: the Mississippi. In the 1630s Jean Nicollet had traveled to Lake Superior and perhaps as far as Lake Nipigon, a route that he thought would lead him to China. In 1673 Louis Joliet and the Jesuit priest Jacques Marquette reached the Mississippi and went down it as far as the Arkansas River. They were followed by an expedition of René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, that descended the river to the Gulf of Mexico.
In 1699 Louis XIV decided that France had to gain control of the Mississippi Valley, so he created a new colony, Louisiana. Its purpose was to protect New Spain (Mexico) from incursions by the English. Louis’s grandson had been made king of Spain; hence he felt compelled to safeguard the Spanish colonies. Louisiana grew slowly but played its intended role of hemming in the 13 English colonies between the Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. The French then expanded their influence into the southwest, establishing a trade route between New Orleans, the chief city of Louisiana, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
As the French moved into Louisiana, they became embroiled in wars with the Fox, Natchez, and Chickasaw nations. The Fox and the Natchez were crushed, but not the Chickasaw. After a decisive defeat by the Chickasaw at the Battle of Ackia in 1736, the French gave up their attempts to expand into what is now the north part of the state of Mississippi.
To the west, the French explored the Missouri River, and the La Vérendrye family crossed the Great Plains as far as the Black Hills of South Dakota and the fork of the Saskatchewan River. The explorers believed that a bay of the Pacific Ocean, or a great river leading to it, could not be far to the west, and that they would be able to establish an ocean-to-ocean trade route. Finally, an expedition commanded by Captain Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre reached the barrier of the Rocky Mountains in 1751. Then war came, and the French had to abandon attempts to reach the Pacific.
C Rivalry and War
It became clear early that the continent was not large enough for both the French and the English. In 1613, during a time of peace between the nations, a party of settlers in the English colony of Virginia, led by Samuel Argall, destroyed a French mission post in disputed territory near Mount Desert Island (now in Maine). In 1629 Champlain was forced to surrender Québec to Anglo-Scots freebooters, the Kirke brothers, when they captured his supply fleet and laid siege to the town. Canada was restored to him three years later.
Late in the century, New France was involved in King William’s War (1689-1697), which was partly an offshoot of a wider European war. The English settlers in New York, who supported the Iroquois in their attacks on Canada, suffered heavy losses. The French destroyed the English frontier settlement of Schenectady and two settlements in New England. In response, the English colonists tried to capture Québec and Montréal, which cost them dearly. The treaty ending that war was merely a truce as the belligerents in Europe regrouped.
Hostilities recommenced in Queen Anne’s War (1702-1713). That war ended with France ceding Newfoundland to Great Britain (the union of England, Scotland, and Wales). The French retained fishing rights on the north shore, thereafter known as the French Shore. The French ceded its forts on Hudson Bay and in the southern part of Acadia, which left the French settlers of Acadia at the mercy of the British. France retained Cape Breton Island and Isle Saint-Jean (now Prince Edward Island).
C1 Buildup of Armaments
There ensued 30 years of peace, during which the French economy expanded greatly and that of Great Britain stagnated. France secured its hold on Cape Breton Island (renamed Isle Royale) by building the fortress of Louisbourg. It also established settlements in the Illinois country and more garrisoned posts in the Great Lakes basin. In 1744 fighting erupted again in King George’s War (1744-1748), part of a contest by the British to prevent French dominance of the world’s markets. British colonists, with British naval aid, captured Louisbourg, but it was returned to France at the war’s end in exchange for Madras (now Chennai) in India.
The British then prepared to renew hostilities at the earliest opportunity. They were determined to destroy the French colonial empire and become Europe’s dominant imperial power. The French sought to avoid war at all costs because their colonies and ships were at the mercy of the British navy; they had failed to create a strong enough navy of their own. The British established a naval base, Halifax, in Nova Scotia. Agents of Virginia land speculators canvassed the Ohio River valley, offering trade goods at very low prices to draw the indigenous nations out of their alliance with the French. The French, aware of the British determination to seize the Ohio Valley and then go on to the Mississippi to sever Canada from Louisiana, built a chain of forts from Lake Erie to the forks of the Ohio in what is now eastern Pennsylvania.
C2 The French and Indian War (1754-1763)
In 1753 the governor of Virginia sent an emissary, Major George Washington, to the French commander at Fort Le Boeuf in the Ohio Valley, ordering him to retire from the lands claimed by Great Britain. The commander received Washington courteously but rejected the ultimatum. The next year Washington was sent back with a force of militia. The clash of arms that followed marked the start of the French and Indian War.
For the first two years, the war went badly for the British and their colonists. Attempts to capture Fort Niagara, near Lake Ontario, and Fort Saint-Frédéric, on Lake Champlain, failed. An army led by Major General Edward Braddock marched on Fort Duquesne at the forks of the Ohio, but was destroyed by the French and their indigenous allies. Only in Nova Scotia did the British enjoy any success; there they captured Fort Beauséjour. The British then expelled the original French settlers, the Acadians. Many went to France, although some returned years later. Others made their way to Louisiana, where their descendants, the Cajuns, reside to this day.
As the war progressed, the French destroyed British frontier forts and ravaged the frontier settlements. Then the tide turned. The British sent 20,000 regular troops to their colonies, along with a quarter of the ships of the British navy. In rapid succession Fort Duquesne, then Fort Niagara, were taken, and a British fleet and army laid siege to Québec. A battle there on the Plains of Abraham, lasting half an hour, resulted in the surrender of the city in September 1759. The next year the French failed in an attempt to recapture it. The remnants of the French forces, facing three British armies, were forced to capitulate. Three years later, when peace was negotiated, the French ceded Canada and the remaining part of Acadia to Great Britain, and Louisiana to Spain, France’s wartime ally.
So ended New France. Of that vast area, France kept only some fishing rights in Newfoundland and the islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, which are still French territory today. Louisiana briefly came back into French hands in 1800, but was sold in 1803 to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase.
By the mid-18th century the population of New France, compared to that of the 13 British colonies, appeared pathetic. All told, the settlers numbered some 88,500, whereas the British colonies had a population of some 2,500,000. Immigration was down to a trickle. However, the birth rate exceeded the death rate, and thus the population was doubling every generation. Eighty percent of the people lived in rural areas, and 20 percent lived in towns. In contrast, 85 percent of the population of France was rural. Moreover, 40 percent of the rural population of Canada lived within easy reach of one of the three towns (Québec, Montréal, and Trois-Rivières); that is, they could go to town and return home the same day.
A Land Tenure
The land tenure system of New France was adapted from the system used in France. The king granted seigneuries (large parcels of land) to seigneurs (manorial landlords), who had to meet certain conditions. A seigneur had to settle the land grant with farmers, called habitants, who had perpetual leases on parcels of 150 to 200 acres, called concessions. Each habitant was required to clear the forest and bring his concession into production. The seigneur had to grant a concession to anyone who requested one, and that land remained in the habitant’s family. Only if a habitant failed to develop his land, or to pay the very modest yearly dues owed the seigneur, could a seigneur displace him and grant the land to another. Similarly, if a seigneur failed to find settlers for his seigneury, it was returned to the king. Because the habitants’ dues were so low, a seigneur could not usually make a profit until he had 50 families settled on his seigneury. In addition, each seigneur was obliged to construct a grist mill on his seigneury; if he did not, then anyone who chose could do so.
If a habitant wished to sell his lease to someone outside his family, he had to pay his seigneur one-twelfth of the price. This was an effective way to curb land speculation. Although the seigneurs’ incomes were limited, they more than made up for it with their enhanced social privileges and prestige.
B Social Classes
Society was structured basically as it was in France, with sharply defined social classes, modified to suit local conditions. At the top were the nobles, high-ranking military officers, and officials of both state and church. Below them was the higher middle class, consisting of merchants and clergy below the rank of bishop. Seigneurs who were not nobles were in this class. Below them were the habitants, artisans, and laborers. At the bottom were slaves, both indigenous and African. Slaves were expensive, and thus only the wealthier people owned them. Most of the African slaves were employed in Louisiana and the Illinois country.
In the 17th century this social structure was somewhat flexible in New France, allowing a degree of upward social mobility, particularly for women. By the 18th century, however, the social classes had become virtual castes. Everyone knew his or her place and was expected to keep it.
Women were well protected under French law. A wife kept control of the property she brought to the marriage; her husband could not dispose of it as he saw fit. Every family was required by law and custom to care for its own in times of distress; aged parents had to be cared for by their children.
B1 Habitants’ Way of Life
The aim of the typical habitant family was to be an independent economic unit, meeting their needs as much as possible from their 150 to 200 acres. The forest provided firewood and timber to build a house. In the 18th century, stone replaced wood for houses in the towns, to reduce the fire hazard, and to a degree in the countryside, particularly for churches, grist mills, and sawmills. Wheat was the chief crop; the French clung to their old staple food, bread, supplemented with root vegetables, fruits, nuts, and meat of all descriptions. Wheat could not be grown in lower Louisiana; it had to be milled into flour in the Illinois settlements of Kaskaskia and Cahokia, then shipped down the Mississippi to New Orleans. Rice thus became the staple crop in lower Louisiana. The habitants, unlike the peasants of Europe, had the right to hunt and fish on the seigneury. All told, the habitants of New France were far better fed than the peasants of Europe.
The Canadians quickly adopted the winter garb of the indigenous nations: fur coats, hats, mittens, leggings, moccasins, and bison and bear hides for cover while riding in sleighs. Women adopted the indigenous women’s short shift that reached down to mid-thigh for indoor wear. The habitant women produced an excellent woolen cloth for blankets and clothing. Habitant men wore their hair in a pigtail.
Little stress was placed on literacy. Only the nobility, seigneurs, military officers, and merchants who aspired to enter the nobility demanded it for their children. The majority were illiterate. The literacy rate was higher among women than men. In a habitant family, one member able to read and write sufficed; thus a girl could be spared to attend a parish school rather than a boy, whose labor was needed on the farm.
B2 Town Life
Few seigneurs lived on their estates; most lived in the towns, along with officials, nobles, merchants, and artisans, and had military careers. Canada was basically a military garrison colony in which every man was a soldier. The officer corps of the colonial regular troops was composed, for the most part, of seigneurs and their sons. They sought a military career with its attendant honor and glory in order to bequeath an honorable name to their children. A Jesuit described the seigneurs as being as poor as church mice and as proud as peacocks.
The merchants sought wealth. They wanted to marry their daughters into the nobility and obtain commissions for their sons in the military. The artisans merely tried to practice their crafts without restraint.
Officials, nobles, and people of the seigneurial class wore the same clothing as their counterparts in France. However, luxury clothes such as silks, cotton, and damask had to be imported. When ships arrived from France in the summer, ladies were eager to learn about the latest fashions at the French court. On formal occasions, gentlemen wore a wig.
For the daughters of seigneurs and well-to-do merchants, an education was provided through the Ursuline schools. For the boys, the Jesuit College at Québec and the Sulpician College at Montréal provided as good an education as could be obtained in France. The Jesuits also established a school at Québec to train ships’ pilots and mapmakers. Its graduates impressed the Minister of Marine in France, who sought to lure them away from Canada to serve with the French navy elsewhere.
B3 Religious Life
As settlement grew, the church turned its focus from converting the indigenous people to ministering to the society of the towns and farms. Eventually the number of settlers and clergy in New France became large enough to need a bishop. The bishop chosen was François de Laval, who challenged government officials on several issues, particularly the trading of liquor to the indigenous peoples. He had little success. The secular officials had their way, and the church remained subordinate to the state. There was, however, no religious strife in the colony. When Cardinal Richelieu established the Company of One Hundred Associates, he decreed that only members of the Roman Catholic Church could reside in the colony. The monarchy continued that policy but made an exception for the resident agents of the Protestant merchants of La Rochelle, who resided at Québec.
Education and health care were largely seen as the province of the church. The Ursuline congregation of nuns—women dedicated to the religious life—came to New France to establish schools for girls. The Jesuits did the same for boys, founding their college at Québec in 1635. The Sulpicians, an order of wealthy, well-educated priests, trained young men for the priesthood. Both the Jesuits and the Sulpicians held seigneuries that contributed to their incomes. The Sulpicians from 1663 held the seigneury of the Île de Montréal, and they supplied the fast-growing town of Montréal with parish priests.
By the 18th century, Canada was reasonably well served with hospitals at Québec and Montréal. These were staffed by nuns, with an attendant physician on call. Those who could afford it were expected to pay, but those who could not still received care.
For the helpless who had no family, both the church and the monarchy established Offices of the Poor to prevent them from becoming beggars. The church also established almshouses to care for those unable to care for themselves, including the mentally ill. They were staffed by nuns and funded by the monarchy.
C Government
C1 Administration
The Sovereign Council (renamed the Superior Council in 1703) consisted of the governor-general, the intendant, the bishop, an attorney general, a recording clerk, and five councillors (increased to 7 in 1675 and 12 in 1703). The king chose the councillors on the advice of the intendant, which made them an independent body, well able to dispute and check despotic acts by a governor-general. They were intended to be representatives of the settlers, although they were appointed, not elected. They were chosen from among those the intendant considered to be the “better qualified.” The council had both judicial and legislative functions. It was the highest court of law in New France and, with the intendant presiding, enacted laws. Judges in the lower courts also enacted many laws. There was no separation of legislative and judicial powers.
C2 Politics
Although New France did not have an elected assembly as did the British colonies, the officials responsible for the colonists’ well-being had somehow to find out what laws were required. The necessary information was obtained through two institutions. One of these, long in use in France, was the ad hoc assembly. Assemblies would be formed at the parish level to determine when and how a bridge should be repaired, how to force a certain habitant to mend his fences, and so on. On orders of Louis XIV, an assembly was called at Québec every summer to discuss matters of general interest and advise the intendant on necessary legislation.
The other institution, developed in Canada, was the office of captain of militia. Every male aged 15 to 50 had to serve in his parish militia company and arm himself with a serviceable musket. Every parish had a militia captain appointed by the governor-general. These captains were always habitants rather than seigneurs, who would have deemed some of a captain’s duties beneath their dignity. They had to be men respected by their fellow parishioners, men whom the militia would obey in war. It was an unpaid office, but eagerly sought for the honor it conferred. In addition, these captains served as agents of the intendant.
When the intendant needed information such as the prospects for the current year’s harvest, whether there was enough wheat for the winter, or headcount for a census, the militia captain was required to provide it. When the habitants wanted legislation to rectify or prevent an abuse, they asked their captain to inform the intendant. The great bulk of legislation enacted by the intendant, the Superior Council, and the lower courts was enacted at the behest of the populace. When a serious crime was committed in a rural parish, it was the captain who made the preliminary investigation and reported his findings to the intendant, who then decided whether to prosecute. If a prosecution was begun, the captain had to seek out witnesses and suspects, summon them to court, and arrest them if need be.
C3 Communications
There was no printing press in New France, mainly because there was no urgent need for one. In 1748 interim governor-general Roland-Michel Barrin de La Galissonière appealed to the minister of colonial affairs to send a press to Québec. The minister replied that the king could not afford the expense, but that the colonists were free to set up their own press. No one stepped forward to do so. When the intendant, the governor, or the Superior Council wished to inform the people of a new edict, a town crier broadcast the news as he walked through the streets beating a drum. Edicts and official notices were also nailed to the doors of the parish churches and read out by the priest after Mass (the chief Catholic religious service) on Sunday.
D The Economy
D1 International Trade
Economically, New France—compared to France’s western-hemisphere trading hub of the French West Indies—was a disaster. Canada never produced more in revenue than one-third of what it cost the monarchy to sustain it, and Louisiana far less. As with all the European colonial powers, trade was largely confined to the mother country, but exceptions had to be made. The first aim was to make the colonies self-sustaining in necessities, then to have them export raw materials to France and import French manufactured goods. New France never fulfilled this promise. Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the French minister who reorganized the government under Louis XIV, also hoped that Canada would provide copper (once the mines were developed), timber for French shipyards, and wheat, peas, and lumber for the French West Indies. None of this came to pass. Furs and fish remained the export staples of New France, along with tobacco and indigo from Louisiana. What sustained the province was the money France poured in to support the military. War, and the threat of war, was the major industry of New France.
The Canadian climate was a major economic obstacle because Canada’s one seaport, Québec, was frozen shut for half the year. By contrast, merchants of New England and the Carolinas could supply the French West Indies with necessities at low cost all year round. Louisiana produced the same products as the West Indies but could not compete because of higher transport costs, except in tobacco and indigo. In 1696, when the French market for beaver pelts was glutted, the Canadians found other eager buyers: the merchants of Albany, New York, with whom they were technically at war. Thus a clandestine trade was established between Montréal and Albany. Canadian beaver pelts, French luxury cloth, wine, and brandy went south. To Montréal went duffel, a coarse, heavy woolen cloth, and blankets for the trade with the indigenous peoples.
D2 Transportation
The main avenue of transport was water. Transportation in Canada and Louisiana was always along the rivers. Winter travel was made possible by sleighs, skates, snowshoes, and toboggans. A road was eventually built from Québec to Montréal, but the St. Lawrence River remained the main artery. The intendant established a courier service between the two towns, and letters or packets would reach their destination in five to seven days—about as long as an average letter takes today, 250 years later.
D3 Money and Exchange
Currency, or the lack of it, was always a problem. Silver coins of French, Spanish, and British origin circulated in New France but quickly vanished. The colonists, when they had gathered enough, took them to a silversmith and had them melted down to make mugs, porringers, bowls, and cutlery. Goods that they could not provide for themselves they obtained on credit from a merchant. Every summer they would settle their account with the merchant, usually with bushels of wheat, capons, furs, or other produce. The merchants settled their accounts with their French suppliers using bills of exchange, similar to checks. The recipient then endorsed the bill to another merchant, and so these circulated as money.
This system worked until the French and Indian War. Then inflation forced the intendant to issue large numbers of promissory notes to pay for goods and services. When France ceded New France to Great Britain, it assumed that the colony’s debts went with the territory and refused to honor the millions of livres it owed on these notes. Left with worthless paper money, many colonists lost their life savings.
E The Legacy of New France
Remnants of French culture remain in Louisiana, where the descendants of French settlers are a small minority of the population. In Canada, however, the descendants of the habitants now number some 6.3 million French Canadians, who have preserved their French culture and use the French language exclusively. French Canadian culture differs from that of modern-day France: it has been influenced by geographic conditions, a history of conquest, and the fact that French Canadians did not experience the French Revolution. It is unique and, far from being assimilated by the English speakers, is the subject of a cultural and political renaissance, especially in Québec province, that has been going on since 1960 and shows no signs of abating.

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