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French Colonialism

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Chapter Summary

In 1931, an International Colonial Exhibition, held in Vincennes (near Paris) celebrated the second largest colonial empire after the British one, an empire which had the avowed mission of pacifying its territories and civilizing the natives. France first conquered large territories in North America, and then lost them: Canadian territories were lost through military defeats to Britain, Louisiana was sold to the USA. Slave trade was practised by Europeans from the 15th to the 19th century, on 5 000 kilometers of coast of West Africa. The expansion of French colonialism from the 1880s was motivated by compensation for successive French military defeats: first, the defeat of 1870-1871 against Prussia and the loss of Alsace-Lorraine that triggered French military operations in Indochina, North Africa and West Africa. For most French people, for more than a century, colonization was the glory of conquests and civilization brought to the natives.

Keywords: Europeans; France; French colonialism; French military; Louisiana; North America; Paris; slave trade



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