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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.
The French are an ethnic group and nation who are identified with the country of France. This connection may be ethnic, legal, historical, or cultural.
The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence, was an 18th-century war between Great Britain and its Thirteen Colonies which declared independence as the United States of America.
The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.
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.
Nantes is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, 50 km (31 mi) from the Atlantic coast. The city is the sixth-largest in France, with a population of 303,382 in Nantes and a metropolitan area of nearly 950,000 inhabitants. With Saint-Nazaire, a seaport on the Loire estuary, Nantes forms the main north-western French metropolis.
Brittany is a cultural region in the northwest of France, covering the western part of what was known as Armorica during the period of Roman occupation. It became an independent kingdom and then a duchy before being united with the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province governed as if it were a separate nation under the crown.
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.
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.
Louis XVI, born Louis-Auguste, was the last King of France before the fall of the monarchy during the French Revolution. He was referred to as Citizen Louis Capet during the four months before he was guillotined. In 1765, at the death of his father, Louis, son and heir apparent of Louis XV, Louis-Auguste became the new Dauphin of France. Upon his grandfather's death on 10 May 1774, he assumed the title "King of France and Navarre", which he used until 4 September 1791, when he received the title of "King of the French" until the monarchy was abolished on 21 September 1792.
The Palace of Versailles was the principal royal residence of France from 1682, under Louis XIV, until the start of the French Revolution in 1789, under Louis XVI. It is located in the department of Yvelines, in the region of Île-de-France, about 20 kilometres southwest of the centre of Paris.
Les Invalides, formally the Hôtel national des Invalides, or also as Hôtel des Invalides, is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, France, containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building's original purpose. The buildings house the Musée de l'Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the Dôme des Invalides, a large church, the tallest in Paris at a height of 107 meters, with the tombs of some of France's war heroes, most notably Napoleon.
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.
Benjamin Franklin was an American polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions. He founded many civic organizations, including the Library Company, Philadelphia's first fire department and the University of Pennsylvania.
Chaumont-sur-Loire is a commune in the Loir-et-Cher department in central France known for its historical defensive walls and its castle.
The Loire Valley, spanning 280 kilometres (170 mi), is located in the middle stretch of the Loire River in central France, in both the administrative regions Pays de la Loire and Centre-Val de Loire. The area of the Loire Valley comprises about 800 square kilometres (310 sq mi). It is referred to as the Cradle of the French and the Garden of France due to the abundance of vineyards, fruit orchards, and artichoke, and asparagus fields, which line the banks of the river. Notable for its historic towns, architecture, and wines, the valley has been inhabited since the Middle Palaeolithic period. In 2000, UNESCO added the central part of the Loire River valley to its list of World Heritage Sites.
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.
John Adams was an American statesman, attorney, diplomat, writer, and Founding Father who served as the second president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. Before his presidency he was a leader of the American Revolution that achieved independence from Great Britain, and also served as the first vice president of the United States. Adams was a dedicated diarist and regularly corresponded with many important figures in early American history including his wife and adviser, Abigail, and his letters and other papers are an important source of historical information about the era.
Silas Deane was an American merchant, politician, and diplomat, and a supporter of American independence. Deane served as a delegate to the Continental Congress, then as the first foreign diplomat from the United States to France. Near the end of the war, Congress charged Deane with financial impropriety, and the British intercepted and published some letters in which he had implied that the American cause was hopeless. After the war, Deane lived in Ghent and London and died under mysterious circumstances while attempting to return to America.
John Paul Jones was the United States' first well-known naval commander in the American Revolutionary War. He made many friends and enemies—who accused him of piracy—among America's political elites, and his actions in British waters during the Revolution earned him an international reputation which persists to this day. As such, he is sometimes referred to as the "Father of the American Navy".
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, DC.
The Treaty of Paris, signed in Paris by representatives of King George III of Great Britain and representatives of the United States of America on September 3, 1783, ended the American Revolutionary War. The treaty set the boundaries between the British Empire in North America and the United States, on lines "exceedingly generous" to the latter. Details included fishing rights and restoration of property and prisoners of war.
The Smithsonian Institution, founded on August 10, 1846 "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge," is a group of museums and research centers administered by the Government of the United States. The institution is named after its founding donor, British scientist James Smithson. Originally organized as the "United States National Museum," that name ceased to exist as an administrative entity in 1967.
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, in 1790, he married a girl from New Jersey and became an American citizen. 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 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.
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.
Jacques Necker was a banker of Genevan origin who became a finance minister for Louis XVI and a French statesman. Necker played a key role in French history before and during the first period of the French Revolution.
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.
Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein, commonly known as Madame de Staël, was a French woman of letters and historian of Genevan origin whose lifetime overlapped with the events of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era. For many years she lived as an exile under the Reign of Terror and under Napoleonic persecution. Known as a witty and brilliant conversationalist, often dressed in flashy and revealing outfits, she participated actively in the political and intellectual life of her times. She was present at the first opening of the Estates General and at the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Her intellectual collaboration with Benjamin Constant between 1795 and 1811 made them one of the most celebrated intellectual couples of their time. They discovered sooner than others the tyrannical character and designs of Napoleon. In 1814 one of her contemporaries observed that "there are three great powers struggling against Napoleon for the soul of Europe: England, Russia, and Madame de Staël". Her works, both novels and travel literature, with emphasis on passion, individuality and oppositional politics made their mark on European Romanticism.
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.
Passy is an area of Paris, France, located in the 16th arrondissement, on the Right Bank. It is home to many of the city's wealthiest residents.
Louis-Michel le Peletier, Marquis of Saint-Fargeau was a French politician and martyr of the French revolution.
Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau was a French soldier, the son of Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau.
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.
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.
Neoclassicism is a movement in architecture, design and the arts which was dominant in France between about 1760 to 1830. It emerged as a reaction to the frivolity and excessive ornament of the baroque and rococo styles. In architecture it featured sobriety, straight lines, and forms, such as the pediment and colonnade, based on Ancient Greek and Roman models. In painting it featured heroism and sacrifice in the time of the ancient Romans and Greeks. It began late in the reign of Louis XV, became dominant under Louis XVI, and continued through the French Revolution, the French Directory, and the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte, and the Bourbon Restoration until 1830, when it was gradually replaced as the dominant style by romanticism and eclecticism.