What Five 18th Century Frenchmen Can Tell Us About America

Jul 14, 2014

It’s Bastille Day, the 225th anniversary of the Parisian mob taking over the fortress-prison that stood for royal absolutism. What better day to hear about how five émigrés from that revolution went on to have a big impact on the United States of America?

Francois Furstenberg, an historian at Johns Hopkins, has written a weighty but extraordinarily readable account of five French liberals, most of them aristocrats who had worked ardently to reform the ancien regime, the old power structure of France, but fell afoul of later, more radical waves of revolution. They fled to the New World in the early 1790s. Sheilah talks with Furstenberg about his new book, "When the United States Spoke French: Five Refugees Who Shaped a Nation".