Tuesday, August 24, 2010

For ABC WEDNESDAY

“F” is for “The French”
Some time ago there was quite a to-do, not to mention a fuss, over the fact that it was some four hundred years ago that Henry Hudson sailed up the river of the same name.
From the local paper: “A fleet of 18 Dutch boats sailed into the New York harbor on Tuesday to begin month-long celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of New York by Dutch Captain Henry Hudson.”
“The discovery of New York”? The claim is often made that it was Henry Hudson who was the first European to discover New York; that seems to be what is taught in schools.
But it’s wrong.
The score card should read like this: Hudson second; French first.

Not many people are aware that long before Ol’ Cap’n Hudson showed up in New York in 1609, the French Navy had much earlier been there, done that.
It was in 1524 that the French arrived in what is now NYC. Think of it. That’s 85 years before Hudson!

The French, in their warship La Dauphine, were looking for China – as was just about everyone else in those days – and they ran smack into the North American continent. On their trip up the coast they sailed into a magnificently sheltered body of water…

And they anchored here, in today’s New York harbor, right about where the Verrazano Bridge is in our time.

They then proceeded to do what one did in those days; they claimed the place for their king, Francis I. The captain wrote to his sovereign: “Once we were anchored and well sheltered, we took the small boat to land, which we found densely populated. The people came to us joyfully, uttering loud cries of wonderment and showing us the safest place to beach the boat. Some thirty small boats ran to and fro across the water with innumerable people aboard who were crossing from one side to the other to see us.” New Yorkers, almost 500 years ago.

They named the beautiful land about them, what we now know as New York City, “New Angouleme” – Angouleme is a beautiful city in the southwestern part of France – because that was the king’s home town. So New York was New Angouleme long, very long, before it was New Amsterdam.

You learn almost nothing about this in our schools. Most New Yorkers have no idea that New York was once New Angouleme. But that’s okay; I’ve been to Angouleme and asked around. Most people there don’t seem to be aware of it either.
So here’s a toast of cognac (from the Angouleme region) to Henry Hudson and his trip, 400 years ago, up the river that bears his name. But as far as what the local paper recently wrote – that he discovered New York – that is simply not true.
Vive la Nouvelle Angouleme!

29 comments:

Leo said...

that was a revelation in history even I'd no clue about! thanks for sharing, Berowne..

My ABC Wednesday Post

Berowne said...

A nice comment. Thanks, Leo.

RuneE said...

Silly me - I thought the native Americans came first :-)

photowannabe said...

Fascinating. Thanks for sharing this correction of history. I shudder to think what the next generation will NOT be taught.

Kay L. Davies said...

Wonderful history lesson. We're seeing France next year, and I know I will keep this tidbit in mind. Very interesting, especially to a Canadian with a little bit of French ancestry.

Roger Owen Green said...

Very interesting. I live in Albany, so it's particularly relevant. Hudson DID come all the way up this way, so that's something. History is so fungible, depending on who writes it.

On behalf of ABC Wednesday team, thank you! - ROG

Leslie: said...

Wow! Fantastique! I never knew that either, but Canadian students are always taught about the French/English fight over Canada. Did you know that your Cajuns originate from Canada?

Mrs. M @ TLC said...

This is a brilliant, informative post. Thanks for the effort of sharing this info.

Wishing you a fabulous week.

Gramma Ann said...

I never was a History person when I was younger, but now in my senior years I enjoy learning things about history. Always enjoy your ABC posts.

Have a Fabulous week.

Hildred and Charles said...

Well, there you go, - history is always getting reinvented and it's good to be set straight.

Berowne said...

RuneE: "Silly me - I thought the native Americans came first."
If you go back and read the post again, you'll see that the subject is the first Europeans who discovered New York.

Berowne said...

Mrs. M @ TLC: "This is a brilliant, informative post."
And yours is a brilliant, informative comment. :-)

Berowne said...

My thanks to photowannabe, Kay L. Davies, Roger O. G. and Leslie for some very encouraging comments. :-)

Berowne said...

Gramma Ann: "Always enjoy your ABC posts."
As I always enjoy your comments. :-)

Mara said...

And I'm pretty sure Henry Hudson wasn't Dutch. At least I've never heard of him being Dutch. Then again, my knowledge of Dutch history isn't the best and I might be very wrong.

Berowne said...

Mara: "And I'm pretty sure Henry Hudson wasn't Dutch."
You raise an interesting point. Henry Hudson was at the same time an Englishman and a Dutch captain.

Berowne said...

Thanks to Hildred and Charles for their friendly comment.

Linda said...

And who knew—
Loved your informative post and I went to school in New York and nary a word was said about tis piece of history.

Linda
ABC Wednesday Team

Tumblewords: said...

History is like sourdough starter, take some out, drop some in, continue the process. :)

Vernz said...

very interesting part of your history ... I'm read more on this ... thanks for stirring my mind.

My ABC Wednesday here
Woman’s élan vital

Wendy said...

C'est la Vie, C'est la Guerre! I love learning about history and this was a wonderful and interesting post. History can be taught with excitement or with boredom. This was fantastique!

Berowne said...

A great comment, Wendy -- thanks.

LisaF said...

I suppose as long as there is the History channel, these little-known facts will be revealed. I actually watched one that had some convincing information that some of the Knights Templar traveled to the East coast long before other Europeans!

ChrisJ said...

This was a very interesting piece of information. I know very little about American History even though I have lived here for more than 35 years. I was born in England and you'd think I'd make some attempt to learn more about the history of this land -- but it takes a lot of my time just keeping up with what is happening today. So I'm always glad for some extra info to cram into my overstuffed brain.

Anna said...

Dear Berowne,
I almost chose France as one of my F-words. Now I am glad that I did not. Once again, as in the case of the Zeppelin, you are better equipped to write something worth reading about this subject.
My father, who was born and raised in Upstate New York, would have applauded this post! He loved history, and sought truth and the little known, when he did research of any kind.
Take care.

Best wishes,
Anna
Anna's abcWed-F-words

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