J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

L’Hermione in Maine

The Hermione’s last stop in the U.S. of A. this trip will be in Castine, Maine, on 14-15 July. That’s right—the French crew gets to spend Bastille Day in Maine.

The Castine Historical Society has a raft of events planned for this weekend and the two days next week when the Hermione will be in the harbor. Those include museum exhibits, Revolutionary War reenactments, musical concerts, art projects, and parades on both land and water. (Plus that Gene Kelly movie again.)

The lectures over the course of those days include:
  • Liam Riordan, University of Maine, “Why the French Were Essential for the American Revolution, and Why We Should Care.”
  • Lou McNally, University of Maine, “Sailing and Surviving in the Weather of the 1780s.”
  • Laura Auricchio, author, “The Marquis: Lafayette Revisited.”
  • Paul Mayewski, University of Maine, “Timing Is Everything: Weather, Climate and the Course of Civilization.”
  • Curt Viebranz, Mount Vernon, “The Marquis de Lafayette and General Washington.”
After that, L’Hermione sails on to Nova Scotia, where there doesn’t appear to be anything planned. Not even the Gene Kelly movie.


Anonymous said...

Didn't the French already get booted from Nova Scotia? :)

J. L. Bell said...

Castine also used to be part of France’s Acadian colony.

Don Carleton (Jr.) said...

It's hard indeed to believe that there's nothing whatsoever happening to welcome l'Hermione to Lunenburg, but you're right that there is nothing online to indicate such.

But modern Nova Scotia has a significant Acadian minority (a number of exiles trickled back after 1763) living in the western side of the peninsula. Indeed, the Province's tourism website describes this French-origin community as one of its "founding cultures."

So ignoring l'Hermione's visit would seem to be an ill-judged move by official Nova Scotia from a cultural-political standpoint!

Mark said...

I don't get it.....why would L'Hermione go to Nova Scotia ?? The vessel was part of a cavalcade of ships that attacked & ransacked many NS towns between 1776 and 1782. Its attack on Louisbourg in 1781 was one of the worst of that campaign. And many Acadians had just trickled back into NS from the U.S., only to have American warships attacking the towns they were returning to...

Americans have a love for the French because of their assistance in the Revolution, but for the Acadians in the Maritimes things are far more complicated. Now I'm curious about why its going there......

Don Carleton (Jr.) said...

At least according to the Wikipedia article on l'Hermione, the action in question took place off present-day Sidney, Cape Breton Island, and a British convoy was the target, not Louisbourg.

The old French port was by then a depopulated ghost town, its population having been deported and its fortifications demolished in the early 1760s, so there wouldn't have been much to attack there anyway, perhaps at most a scratch British garrison. And I doubt there were any Acadians in the vicinity.

Mark said...

I know that, but it was all part of a greater campaign and a much larger context. The history of the revolution for Americans is very linear, very black and white. In NS its complicated by changing political events, unfortunate migrations and delicate loyalties. The Acadians just wanted to be left alone.....from EVERYBODY.

When Lunenburg was attacked in 1782 it was filled w/ people of French ancestry, since they were some of the original settlers in 1753. So you have a French ship siding w/ the Americans attacking a town w/ many French settlers !

J. L. Bell said...

It's possible that the Hermione voyage organizers chose a stop in Lunenburg because of the region's French roots, but locals turned out to feel more ambivalance about that history and specifically the French role in the American War for Independence than expected. That might explain why the stop there has comparatively few events planned.

It’s also possible that the stop was chosen simply because it seemed wise to stop in a port before the ship headed back across the ocean.