Honoring the Past
“Every man has two countries: his own and France.” – 19th century French poet Henri de Bornier
Since 1776, personal relationships have defined America’s partnership with our oldest democratic ally, France.
The French-American Cultural Foundation is the product of hundreds of individuals reaching across the Atlantic – as soldiers, scientists, chefs, businessmen, artists, writers, diplomats, immigrants, and expats.
We could not present you with our current work without first introducing you to those who came before us.
As you learn about our Foundation, we invite you to meet more of the innovators who embody our mission.
America’s first ambassador, Benjamin Franklin, arrived in France at the will of the Continental Congress. Ever the savvy diplomat, Franklin played his part well and secured French recognition of American independence in 1778.
The Marquis de Lafayette traveled at his own expense to the American colonies to aid in the Revolution. He went on to secure numerous military victories and aid from France that ensured an American victory.
The DuPont company came to America as a result of the Revolution and religious persecution in France. After settling in Wilmington, Delaware, DuPont would later become the largest gunpowder supplier for the US military.
Father of flight, adviser to the Wright brothers, Octave Chanute moved from France to America at age 6. He served as an adviser to countless aviation pioneers, exchanging hundreds of letters with the Wright brothers between 1900 and 1910. Their famous gliders were based on Chanute’s own designs.
Faced with WWI, philanthropist Anne Morgan, daughter of JP, and physician Anne Murray Dike decided to move to France to fundraise for humanitarian aid, rehabilitation, and reconstruction. Their Committee for Devastated France was comprised mostly of women physicians and businesswomen. It was so effective that the French army gave Morgan and Dike the Blérancourt estate to serve as an official rehabilitation home for wounded soldiers.
The Lost Generation found a home in Gertrude Stein’s Parisian salons. The Stein siblings, together with partner Alice Toklas, effectively created the first museum of modern art, housing a collection of Cézanne oils and watercolors, early pictures by Matisse and Picasso, and paintings by Renoir, Manet, Gauguin, and Toulouse-Lautrec. On Saturday evenings, fellow expats such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Thornton Wilder sat amongst the artists and their work, discussing the issues of the age.
American journalist Missy Meloney ensured Marie Curie had access to radium when she was unable to afford it. The journalist embarked on a fundraising campaign across the US with Curie that not only won her another gram of radium but also re-cast her as a pioneering female scientist – a role Curie reluctantly accepted in order to return to her laboratory.
Former WWII OSS Officer Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle began to teach American women how to cook in Child’s Paris kitchen. Their informal school, “L’école des trois gourmandes,” led to the 1961 publication of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which launched American exploration, understanding, and acceptance of the previously inaccessible world of French cuisine.