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France and America in the Revolutionary Era
The Life of Jacques-Donatien Leray de Chaumont, 1725-1803
Thomas J. Schaeper
404 pages, 1 map, 7 illus., appendix, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-57181-050-2 $145.00/£107.00 / Hb / Published (June 1995)
“Specialists will welcome his judicious treatment of controversies surrounding Chaumont's relationships with Franklin and Jones, and his description of life on Chaumont's estate in Passy, where landlord and tenant maintained independent households. Generalists will profit from the book as a window on the complementary nature of business and diplomacy in the late 18th century.” · Choice
"... a well-written and thoroughly researched biography of a 'forgotten Frenchman' ... Schaeper wades masterfully through the conflicting evidence and interpretations and produces an admirable synthesis of recent scholarship on the French-American alliance ... also presents excellent background on the many aspects of the prewar French economy ..." · William and Mary Quarterly
This is the first detailed study account of the life and career of Chaumont whose chief claim to fame was the fact that from 1777 to 1785 Benjamin Franklin lived in his home in the Parisian suburb of Passy. Basing his work on documents from two dozen archives in the United States and France, Schaeper demonstrates that Chaumont was far more than merely a landlord. Prior to the American Revolution he had become one of the most powerful and respected businessmen of the Old Regime. For personal as well as patriotic reasons he aided the American insurgents and worked with a wide array of persons. In addition to Franklin, these included John Adams, Silas Deane, Caron de Beaumarchais, the marquis de Lafayette and the comte de Vergennes. Chaumont performed an astounding range of services - acting as intermediary, an adviser, and a supplier of arms and clothing. His most dramatic contribution to the American cause involved John Paul Jones. It was Chaumont who obtained the famous Bonhomme Richard for the commodore. Through looking at the activities of this intriguing individual the author is able to offer many new insights into both American and French history. Lively and well written this biography will appeal to both the historian and the general reader.
Thomas J. Schaeper, Professor of History at St. Bonaventure University and a member of the board of French Historical Studies. His previous books include The Economy of France in the Second Half of the Reign of Louis XIV (1980) and John Paul Jones and the Battle of Flamborough Head: A Reconsideration (1989).
Subject: History: 18th/19th Century
Area: France North America
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