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Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont (1 September 1726 – 22 February 1803) was a French "Father of the American Revolution", but later an opponent of the French Revolution. His son of the same name, known also in America as James Le Ray, eventually became a United States citizen and settled in Le Ray, New York USA.
Born in the port city of Nantes in Brittany in 1726, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont became one of the wealthiest and most powerful aristocrats in all of France. He made a fortune in shipping and, in 1750, he acquired the Château de Chaumont as a country home where he established a glassmaking and earthenware factory. In 1772, Le Ray signed a contract with the renowned Italian sculptor Jean-Baptiste Nini to oversee his factories and set up the production of portrait medallions: a sculpture in miniature done in terracotta usually for the very wealthy and European Royalty.
Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont served King Louis XVI at the Court at Versailles as the Governor of Les Invalides in Paris and the Grand Master of Waters and Lands of Blois. Following the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain, by the American colonies on 4 July 1776, emissaries were dispatched to France by the new United States revolutionary government to seek assistance from the French king. Although anxious to see Great Britain weakened, Louis XVI had to walk a political tightrope. He understood that support for the rebellion in America was a contradiction of France's global colonization policies and could spark a revolt in any number of France's own colonies. As such, the American delegation could not be officially recognized at the French Court.
Sympathetic to the American cause for independence, Jacques Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont used his powerful position to act as intermediary between the King and the American representatives. But, Le Ray did much more than broker talks and exert influence. In addition to swaying the King and the powerful administrators of the French government, Le Ray provided a fully staffed mansion for Franklin and his family in the wealthy commune of Passy, then outside of Paris.
In December 1776, Benjamin Franklin was sent to Paris with the primary goal of obtaining French aid for the United States. He quickly developed a close relationship with Le Ray and his family and lived at Le Ray's estate in Passy for several years. Franklin however did not visit Le Ray's luxurious Chateau at Chaumont-sur-Loire in the Loire Valley but his grandson Temple did. As a result of their friendship, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont helped obtain French support for the American cause with both money and French armed forces.
Along with Benjamin Franklin, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont worked with John Adams, Silas Deane, the Marquis de Lafayette and the Comte de Vergennes to help with the American Revolution. For an aristocrat in that day and age, what Le Ray did for ordinary Americans was astonishing. At heart, he believed in the equality of all men and backed up his beliefs by providing massive amounts of his own money to purchase weapons, supplies and clothing for the fledgling American armed forces. Le Ray was asked by the American government to take charge of the equipment and management of the combined French and American naval fleet. Working closely with Admiral Charles-Hector Estaing, the Commander of the French Fleet, Le Ray's support for the American cause involved having his shipyards refit a merchant vessel into a warship that he then gifted to America under the name USS Bonhomme Richard for use by Captain John Paul Jones.
When the war ended with the treaty of 1783 signed in Paris, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont had a portrait medallion made of Benjamin Franklin by Jean-Baptiste Nini. Today, it is Franklin's most recognized profile. And, when Franklin was recalled to America in 1785, Le Ray honored him with a commissioned portrait painted by Joseph Siffred Duplessis that now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont's son named Jacques Le Ray (1760–1840) went to America in 1785. There, he acquired a property in Otsego county, New York where he built the first saw-mill. Known in America as James, the English translation for Jacques, Le Ray Jr. also made large land purchases in the State and on 17 July 1789 he married Grace Coxe from New Jersey and became an American citizen. He signed the marriage bond as Le Ray de Chaumon, but in the body of the instrument his name is entered as James Donatien Le Ray de Chaumontt.The towns of Le Ray, New York, Chaumont, New York and the borough of LeRaysville, Pennsylvania are named after him.
In the end, the political ideals that Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont cherished came back to haunt him. The huge financial support he had elicited from King Louis XVI for the American Revolutionary War led to massive debts that would bankrupt the government of France. When a drought caused a deep famine in 1788, there was no money available from the French Treasury, as had been done in the past, to subsidize the cost of flour for bread to prevent mass starvation. As a result of France's generosity and Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont's love of America, he inadvertently helped pave the way for the French Revolution, in 1789, that dramatically impacted on his own finances, resulting in the new French Revolutionary government seizing his assets including his beloved Chateau at Chaumont-sur-Loire.
The Château d'Amboise is a château in Amboise, located in the Indre-et-Loire département of the Loire Valley in France. Confiscated by the monarchy in the 15th century, it became a favoured royal residence and was extensively rebuilt. King Charles VIII died at the château in 1498 after hitting his head on a door lintel. The château fell into decline from the second half of the 16th century and the majority of the interior buildings were later demolished, but some survived and have been restored, along with the outer defensive circuit of towers and walls. It has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1840. The Château d'Amboise is situated at an elevation of 81 meters.
The Château de Chenonceau is a French château spanning the River Cher, near the small village of Chenonceaux in the Indre-et-Loire département of the Loire Valley in France. It is one of the best-known châteaux of the Loire valley, and it and Montsoreau are the only chateaux built over the Loire river bed.
The Château de Chaumont is a castle in Chaumont-sur-Loire, Loir-et-Cher, France. The castle was founded in the 10th century by Odo I, Count of Blois. After Pierre d'Amboise rebelled against Louis XI, the king ordered the castle's destruction. Later in the 15th century Château de Chaumont was rebuilt by Charles I d'Amboise. Protected as a monument historique since 1840, the château was given into state ownership in 1938 and is now open to the public.
Chaumont is a village in Jefferson County, New York, in the United States. Its population was 624 at the 2010 census. The village is named for Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont, son of Benjamin Franklin's landlord and friend at Passy in France. The village of Chaumont is in the town of Lyme and is northwest of Watertown.
Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, Count of Mirabeau was a leader of the early stages of the French Revolution. A noble, he had been involved in numerous scandals before the start of the Revolution in 1789 that had left his reputation in ruins. Nonetheless, he rose to the top of the French political hierarchy in the years 1789–1791 and acquired the reputation of a voice of the people. A successful orator, he was the leader of the moderate position among revolutionaries by favoring a constitutional monarchy built on the model of Great Britain. When he died he was a great national hero, even though support for his moderate position was slipping away. The later discovery that he was in the pay of King Louis XVI and the Austrian enemies of France beginning in 1790 brought him into posthumous disgrace. Historians are deeply split on whether he was a great leader who almost saved the nation from the Terror, a venal demagogue lacking political or moral values, or a traitor in the pay of the enemy.
Jacques Pierre Brissot, who assumed the name of de Warville, was a leading member of the Girondins during the French Revolution and founder of the abolitionist Society of the Friends of the Blacks. Some sources give his name as Jean Pierre Brissot.
Jacques Laffitte was a leading French banker, governor of the Bank of France (1814–1820) and liberal member of the Chamber of Deputies during the Bourbon Restoration and July Monarchy. He was an important figure in the development of new banking techniques during the early stages of industrialization in France. In politics, he played a decisive role during the Revolution of 1830 that brought Louis-Philippe, the duc d'Orléans, to the throne, replacing the unpopular Bourbon king Charles X. Laffitte was named president of the new Citizen King's Council of Ministers and Minister of Finances. After a brief ministry of 131 days, his "Party of Movement" gave way before the "Party of Order" led by the banker Casimir-Pierre Perier. Laffitte left office discredited politically and financially ruined. He rebounded financially in 1836 with his creation of the Caisse Générale du Commerce et de l'Industrie, a forerunner of French investment banks of the second half of the 19th century such as the Crédit Mobilier (1852). The Caisse Générale did not survive the financial crisis caused by the Revolution of 1848.
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Louis-Michel le Peletier, Marquis of Saint-Fargeau was a French politician and martyr of the French revolution.
French involvement in the American Revolutionary War of 1775-1783 began in 1775, when France, a hotbed of Enlightenment anti-establishment culture and a rival of the British Empire, secretly shipped supplies to the Continental Army established in June 1775. A Treaty of Alliance followed in 1778, which led to French shipments of money and matériel to the United States of America. Subsequently, the Spanish Empire and the Dutch Republic also began to send assistance, leaving the British Empire with no allies. Spain openly declared war but the Dutch did not.
William Temple Franklin, known as Temple Franklin, was an American diplomat and real estate speculator. He is best known for his involvement with the American diplomatic mission in France during the American Revolutionary War. Beginning at the age of 16, he served as secretary to his grandfather Benjamin Franklin, who negotiated and agreed to the Franco-American Alliance.
Joseph-Siffred Duplessis (22 September 1725 – 1 April 1802) was a French painter, known for the clarity and immediacy of his portraits.
Louis XVI style, also called Louis Seize, is a style of architecture, furniture, decoration and art which developed in France during the 19-year reign of Louis XVI (1774–1793), just before the French Revolution. It saw the final phase of the Baroque style as well as the birth of French Neoclassicism. The style was a reaction against the elaborate ornament of the preceding Baroque period. It was inspired in part by the discoveries of ancient Roman paintings, sculpture and architecture in Herculaneum and Pompeii. Its features included the straight column, the simplicity of the post-and-lintel, the architrave of the Greek temple. It also expressed the Rousseau-inspired values of returning to nature and the view of nature as an idealized and wild but still orderly and inherently worthy model for the arts to follow.
Rosalie Filleul was a French pastellist and painter. She was born in Paris, and was concierge of the château de la Muette. Although she supported the French Revolution, she nevertheless mourned the execution of Louis XVI. Somewhat indiscreetly, at the height of the Terror, she made arrangements to sell some of the furniture at the Chateau de la Muette to a secondhand dealer. This was reported to the authorities and she was arrested on charges of theft and concealment of property belonging to the Republic. Rosalie Filleul was found guilty and guillotined in 1794, along with her friend Mme Chalgrin, despite the attempted intervention of Chalgrin's brother Carle Vernet.
The Château d'Azay-le-Rideau is located in the town of Azay-le-Rideau in the French département of Indre-et-Loire. Built between 1518 and 1527, this château is considered one of the foremost examples of early French renaissance architecture. Set on an island in the middle of the Indre river, this picturesque château has become one of the most popular of the châteaux of the Loire valley.
Juste Chevillet (1729–1802) was a French engraver. He is known for his engravings for the Histoire Naturelle of Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon.
Donatien is a masculine given name of French origin. People with that name include:
The Hôtel de Valentinois was an hôtel particulier, a kind of large townhouse of France, in Passy, bordering at its greatest extent present-day Rue Raynouard, present-day Rue des Vignes, Rue Bois-le-Vent, and possibly a former street or road running from the corner of present-day Rues Bois-le-Vent and Talma to present-day Rue Raynouard.
The Pensionnat des Frères des écoles chrétiennes à Passy was a boarding school for boys located in the present-day 16th arrondissement of Paris and active between 1839 and 1905.
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