The Franco-American Press
ROBERT B. PERREAULT
Of the nearly 500 French-language newspapers that have appeared in the United States since 1780, over 330 were published between 1868 and the present by and for Québécois immigrants and their descendants, the Franco-Americans, in the New England--eastern New York area. 1 For reasons of practicality, the present study will focus primarily on the New England Franco-American press while offering, as an introduction, a brief overview of French-language newspapers published in regions of the United States settled by immigrants from France, Acadia, and Québec.
The birth of the French press in this country occurred with the printing of La Gazette Française (The French gazette) aboard the French fleet docked at New- port, Rhode Island, in November-December 1780. 2 From this date until the turn of the nineteenth century, at least ten newspapers, most of them ephemeral, served the French populations of such cities as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. During the next hundred years Louisiana, peopled heavily by Creoles and Cajuns, 3 became a breeding ground for no less than sixty French newspapers. The most successful among these was L'Abeille (The bee), a trilingual (French-English-Spanish) daily, which ran from 1827 to 1916. 4 Elsewhere, New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles afforded French journalists a relatively favorable climate. In fact, the two longest-running newspapers in the history of the French-language press in the United States are Le Courrier des Etats-Unis (The United States courier), founded in New York in 1828, and L'Echo du Pacifique (The Pacific echo) of San Francisco, which dates back to 1852. Both have undergone name changes and are published today as France-Amérique ( France-America) and Le Journal Français d'Amérique (The French journal of America), respectively. 5
In the vicinity of the Great Lakes, there flourished not a purely French press, but a French-Canadian and Franco-American press. Between 1817 and 1959, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota witnessed the arrival and departure of some forty French-language journals. In terms of longevity, the two most important were, L'Echo de l'Ouest (The western echo) of Minneapolis ( 1883-