Why Did French (Mostly) Disappear in Louisiana, But Not Quebec

Jun 2019
4
USA
#21
Well, I was thinking in Act of 1774 in Canada. About USA.. I think after 1865, they wanted a a country culturally unified and they just did it through teaching in school.

I'm not saying it was good or bad, I'm not judging, but I think the system worked ... By imposing English, most North Americans (who did not come from English-speaking countries) ended up feeling part of a new community.
In this era, education was entirely a state responsibility. But it is true that Louisiana did move away from bilingualism after the Civil War.

Public education in the United States was generally in English. But there was a particular crackdown on the use of other languages (particularly German) when the "Americanism" movement peaked during World War I: During World War I, U.S. Government Propaganda Erased German Culture

The obsession with restoring white rule after Reconstruction meant that white Francophones had an overwhelming incentive to emphasize the "white" parts of the identity. It also meant that there was no possibility of forming interracial coalitions of French-speaking whites and blacks.
 

Isleifson

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,872
Lorraine tudesque
#22
Savoy is on the border of the German speaking cantons of Switzerland. I would expect some crossovers when the French were offering free land! Savoy was also once Piedmontese.

There is a problem in spelling family names in Louisiana. The local Parish Priest would enter the names of Births, Baptisms and Deaths in a Register. The French and Irish Parish Priests would have had fits with German last names. The Kunz family came from Texas where it is spelled Kunz. In Louisiana it is spelled Koonce. I went to school with a Ray Koonce that told me his family name was French (?). Later German settlers could read and write and gave a better spelling of their names.

There is a Germanfest in Robert's Cove that I have attended. They make a Potato Stew just like my Mother in Law did!

Pruitt

Savoy is...well in France. Around Savoy French speaking d├ępartements. And over the border the French speaking part of Switzerland.

Marcantel is a very franco-provencal name. The local dialect.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,107
#23
Well, I was thinking in Act of 1774 in Canada. About USA.. I think after 1865, they wanted a a country culturally unified and they just did it through teaching in school.

I'm not saying it was good or bad, I'm not judging, but I think the system worked ... By imposing English, most North Americans (who did not come from English-speaking countries) ended up feeling part of a new community.
There wasn't national control of education or any way to impose national policy. There was more public education in Louisiana than most of the south before the Civil War. However, it was the Reconstruction governments that set up widespread public education in the south. Those governments were in place with the aid of federal occupation forces allowing blacks to vote and so on, but I don't think it was federal government policy. Now public education did result in Cajuns speaking English, but I don't think anyone planned that.
 
Sep 2012
1,022
Tarkington, Texas
#24
If you want to know more about the Education system in Louisiana, google Major Burke. He was the Secretary Treasurer in Louisiana for many years and HE determined who got what. He fled to Honduras and lived there for the next forty years on his loot.

Pruitt
 

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,344
Spain
#25
Well, I think it was a deliberate policy to unite a very diverse country into a single culture under English... nor French nor Spanish arrived to North America with inmigration.. both languages were in North America sooner than English (Not opinion.. only fact). French was used in School during the French, Spanish and early US period... however after 1865.. everything was in English as it is written by GersoVB and Betgo.

I think it was a political issue to join the population under one culture...Canada was too much liberal to make the same politic....USA implemented a kind of "English Only" politic in Lousiana in 19th Century as today in 21st Century....in California or Arizona..
 
Jun 2017
2,881
Connecticut
#26
Louisiana and Quebec both started off as French colonies with a substantial number of French-speaking settlers. Both came under the rule of English-speaking powers (Quebec became British in 1763 and Louisiana became American in 1803). They both exist in a North American economy in which the incentives to speak English are overwhelming and obvious. But they followed very different paths: Quebec is still predominately French-speaking, while almost no one in Louisiana speaks French as their main language.

The easiest explanation is that Quebec never lost its French-speaking majority, while Louisiana had lost its by around 1850. In turn this explanation relies on (1) Quebec always having had more Francophones than Louisiana and (2) Louisiana being more attractive to Anglophone settlers than Quebec (particularly during the cotton boom of the mid-19th century). So it was more plausible for English-speakers to become a majority in Louisiana.

A third factor was the greater ability of Quebec Francophones to make demands on political authorities -- or at least have those authorities take their wishes into account. The Quebec Act of 1774 protected the Roman Catholic Church, the French language, and French civil law. After the Revolution, the British steered Loyalist refugees away from Quebec and towards new settlements in what would become Ontario -- which was soon made a separate colony. By contrast, Presidents Jefferson and Madison drew capacious boundaries for Louisiana, which they hoped would ensure that it eventually became Anglophone-majority as new settlers arrived from the United States. The one serious attempt to encourage Quebec Francophones to assimilate -- the creation of "United Canada" in 1840 -- proved wildly unpopular and was abandoned as part of Confederation in 1867. Time and again, Quebec Francophones made it clear that preservation of their language and culture was a priority. And they had the political clout to make that preference stick -- so Quebec has remained French-speaking and Canada has remained bilingual. By contrast, Louisiana entered an already-existing nation where few cared about the status of the French language. Louisiana did have bilingual institutions at the time of statehood in 1812, but those dissipated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The question I have is, "why did Louisiana Francophones not struggle more to maintain the status of the French language?" Losing their linguistic majority explains some of the difference, but not all. New Brunswick has always had an Anglophone majority, but it has a long-standing Francophone minority that shows no signs of disappearing. Conflicts over language are not as central to politics in New Brunswick as they are in Quebec -- but they are important in a way that they are not in Louisiana. Quebec Francophones may have differed in their degree of allegiance to Canada, but they have been united in seeing their distinct identity as something to be preserved, almost at any cost. his struggle has often been the central issue in Quebec politics. By contrast, Louisiana Francophones mostly engaged in "cultural" nationalism without much of a political component. And by the 1920s, the French language had mostly faded from everyday life, outside the most remote corners of Acadiana. In the 1960s and 1970s, there was the "Cajun revival" and the creation of CODOFIL (an organization aimed at reviving French in Louisiana). But by then, the broader battle for French was over. As far as I know, no one ever proposed that Louisiana secede from the union in order to preserve its "distinct society." (White Louisianans were willing to secede to protect slavery, though).

So why were Louisiana Francophones relatively accepting of the decline of the French language in a way that Quebec Francophones absolutely were not? Why wasn't there a political party or movement based on the defense of Francophone Louisiana?
Lots of good possible explanations cited below. I am under the impression there was a very small group of French in New Orleans and Louisiana relative to Quebec and New France. Also the US is a system of considerably autonomy for specific regions, and I wonder if Quebecs being part of the UK/Canada sharpened resistance to change. France wasn't seen as a hostile force and the UK were still an enemy laying siege to the city in the War of 1812 for example under federalism hard to see the life of a Lousianian changing all that much from US to French rule. If their language isolated them from the rest of the US, in the agrarian spread out this South this wasn't an enormous issue but over time you'd assume they'd change of their own accord once it logistically stopped making.

Anyhow Lousiana has maintained civil law and other staples of Frenchness but it is hard to justify speaking another language from a practical standpoint and most arguments to do so in my experience are the manifestation of larger conflicts(Spanish being an example, the US will have a Hispanic majority but it's very doubtful we'll have a Spanish speaking majority). Without said conflicts I'd find it hard to motivate people to learn two languages on a societal level. At the end of the day, language is a means to communicate and if everyone in your country speaks a different language than yours it's difficult to justify even with no external pressure. The staples of French culture that did remain(like civil law in terms of state law) were ones that had no such obvious costs. I've noticed a tendency of all US immigrant groups to be less attached to language than other cultural staples. Language comes with a social and education cost(if your learning English in school it seems excessive to teach two languages) while other ways of identifying with a heritage have no such cost and are much easier to maintain over time.

And in the US system a state would be less likely to secede over their "distinct society" because the other states would have little or no reason to pass legislation relevant to it. With slavery(without merit the pro slave forces had gained much power in the US in the pre civil war decades) we were trying to change an aspect of southern society because the moral implications and the fact the South were chasing slaves north effected everyone. Similar situations where states have a reason to care about the societal structure of another state(except DC because all sides in Congress want to impose their values on a place they directly rule) are rare so the greatest threat to "Frenchness" would come from the Lousianians themselves and seceding over that wouldn't be possible. The feeling of attack Quebec must have felt was probably a necessity for things to go the way they did without it they likely abandon French for the most part and of their own accord.
 
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betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,107
#27
If you want to know more about the Education system in Louisiana, google Major Burke. He was the Secretary Treasurer in Louisiana for many years and HE determined who got what. He fled to Honduras and lived there for the next forty years on his loot.

Pruitt
The southern states were run by elites that didn't want education for ordinary people. That changed somewhat in Louisiana with Huey Long. There was also not the Puritan idea about learning to read the Bibile. Louisiana maintained the French and Spanish system of corruption. Burke already had business dealings with the President of Honduras and got along well there.
 

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,344
Spain
#28
The southern states were run by elites that didn't want education for ordinary people. That changed somewhat in Louisiana with Huey Long. There was also not the Puritan idea about learning to read the Bibile. Louisiana maintained the French and Spanish system of corruption. Burke already had business dealings with the President of Honduras and got along well there.
Can you explain the "French and Spanish system of corruption".. please...
 
Sep 2012
1,022
Tarkington, Texas
#30
The state legislature got rid of the last vestiges of the Code Napoleon a while back.

Major Burke had a system. In state government one had to present a warrant to get funds from the state treasury. During Burke's period in power, if you presented a warrant he would offer to pay 33% of the value of the document "because there was not enough money to pay it"! This was well known in the state. While the Legislature passed bills that gave the Department of Education a similar amount of money that was being spent in Arkansas and Mississippi, the actual outlay was one third of it. While Burke kept the rest of the money, he also spent money among his allies and friends. When the story of his various foibles became national news he was in New York City. After claiming he would go back to Louisiana and straighten up this "misunderstanding", he instead sailed for Honduras which had no extradition treaty with the US! Burke lived until the age of 89, and still had money left!

Pruitt