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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The French Azilum

Yesterday I got to see a reminder of the French revolution's impact on America in the form of the French Azilum (Asylum). Their history page explains it more fully.

"But to a little group of exiles who stepped ashore at this remote spot in late fall of the year 1793 it was a haven far removed from the dangers of revolution, imprisonment, slave insurrections and yellow fever. To them it was Azilum, a place of refuge.

Some of the refugees, because of their loyalty to the King of France, had left France to escape imprisonment or death at the hands of the French Revolution. Others had fled the French colony of Santo Domingo (Haiti) to escape the carnage of mulatto and slave uprisings inspired by the declaration of equality of the radical French Assembly. According to an unverified story, even Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, and her two children were to settle here.

Several influential Philadelphians who were sympathetic to the exiles also saw in their plight an opportunity to profit financially. To this end, Stephen Girard, Robert Morris and John Nicholson, Pennsylvania's comptroller general, abetted the purchase of a large tract of land in the northern wilderness of the State. 1600 acres were acquired, three hundred of which were laid out as a town plot with a two-acre market square, a gridiron pattern of broad streets and 413 lots of about one-half acre each. By the following spring some thirty rough log houses were built."

You can check out the Azilum link if youre a history buff. Eventually le Terreur in France subsided following the Thermidorian Reaction and some of those seeking refuge in PA moved back to France and and the land set aside for the refugees eventually fell into disuse. Some families remain in the area to this day with last names like Hormet, LaPorte and Dushore and eventually blended into the rich tapestry that is America, helping form the communities of North Central Pennsylvania.


Gregg said...

Very interesting. This I wasn't aware of.

Froggie said...

Nice bit of history, JD.
My wife's ancestors were from that era and settled in Quebec. DeGreuiniour(sp) was their name.

Her great grandfather came to this area of PA.
My ancestors came here from Germany in the 1800s.

And now here we are, living on our hill here. Facinating.