Sparta, Wisconsin, aug 25 2013
There are almost no French tourist to be seen in Wisconsin: ask why? The Middle West was settled in the second half of the 19 th century mostly by Germans and Scandinavians, and the tourists we see here come mostly from the north of Europe to visit their American relatives, whose forefathers did the great journey.
But then why are the towns called Eau Claire, La Crosse, Prairie du Chien, Fond du Lac, Lamartine, Trempealeau, Pepin? There must be something wrong somewhere….
Well, the big big something wrong is called the Louisiana Purchase. Because before that worst deal ( seen from Paris) or best deal ( seen from Washington), the whole Middle West was French . Our trappers , priests and fur traders ( Marquette, Nicolet, and many others) had explored the wild west way before the American settlers did, and had assimilated with the native Americans instead of destroying them as the Americans did. Therefore all these French names remaining in Wisconsin, Minessota, South Dakota, all along the Mississipi down to Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Then came a megalomaniac warrior, Napoleon, and a snobbish aristocrat, Talleyrand. The former knew nothing of America and needed money to fund his European conquest wars.The latter despised America, where he had spent 3 years, because it was no decadent corrupted artistic country, as he liked them. Together they agreed to sell what was then called ” Louisiana Territories” i. e the whole Middle West , to the American government, presided by Thomas Jefferson, for a ridiculously modest price. The worst real estate deal ever made. Grrrrrrrrrrr!
Any chance to renegociate that contract? After the recent discovery of huge reserves of shale gas in North Dakota, I bet the negociations with the American government are going to be tough….-:)