France

Bookmark and Share
News
more less
Overview
France’s history has been a bloody one, first under the control of the Roman Empire and subsequently as part of ever-changing kingdoms. This continued during World Wars I and II, when France lost many troops and was even occupied by German forces for four years. Since then, France has developed into a powerful nation with a leading role in international politics and finance, and as one of the European Union’s founding states. Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, France has had its differences with the Bush administration, most notably about using force in Iraq. But the two governments have mostly repaired relations. 
more less
Basic Information
Lay of the Land: Located in Western Europe, France is covered by a broad plain in its western and northern regions, while upland plateaus predominate in the south central area. About a third of the land is mountainous. In the Alps is France’s–and Western Europe’s–highest point, Mont Blanc (15,771 feet). The richly diverse terrain is watered by four major river systems: the Seine, the Loire, the Garonne, and the Rhone-Saône system. The Rhine forms part of the Franco-German border. France also borders Belgium and Luxembourg to the northeast, and Switzerland the Italy to the southeast. France shares a southwestern border with Spain and Andorra. The independent nation of Monaco is surrounded by France on the Mediterranean coast.
 
Population: 64.1 million
 
Religions: Roman Catholic 51%, Muslim 8.3%, Protestant 3%, Buddhist 1%, Jewish (mostly Orthodox) 0.9%, Evangelical 0.6%, non-religious 31%. Only 8% of Catholics regularly attend services, and only 52% of Catholics declare that the existence of God is “certain or possible”.
 
Ethnic Groups: Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities.
 
Languages: French (official) 84.4%, Alemannisch 2.5%, Auvergnat 2.2%, Italian 1.7%, Portuguese 1.2%, Breton 0.8%, Corsican 0.8%, Gascon 0.4%, Provençal 0.4%, Catalan 0.2%, Romani (Balkan Sinte, Vlax) 0.06%. There are 29 living languages in France.

 

 
more less
History
France was inhabited by Celtic tribes called Gauls by the Romans and the nation was known as Gaul. But before the Romans settled in Gaul, Greek navigators settled in the area now known as Provence. Another group, the Phoceans, founded many French cities, but came into frequent conflict with the Celts and the Ligurians.
 
In 122 BC, Rome annexed Provence, and later the Consul of Gaul, Julius Caesar, conquered all of the country. Under the Romans, Gaul was divided into several provinces, and the Romans repeatedly displaced entire populations of locals to prevent these groups from becoming a threat to Roman control. Soon, the Celtic culture was replaced by the Gallo-Roman culture.
 
In 418, the Aquitanian province was given to the Goths in exchange for their support against the Vandals. The Roman Empire continued to suffer barbarian raids and had trouble responding to them. Gradually, the empire lost power and began to abandon Gaul to the Visigoths and Burgundians. Once again, the country became a series of small states. 
 
Although united briefly in 486 under Clovus 1 of the Salian Franks, Gaul was divided into four kingdoms after his death. These Frankish kingdoms were again united in 751, when Pippin the Short established the Carolingian dynasty as King of the Franks. 
 
Pippin’s son, Charlemagne, became king in 771. He quickly united the Frankish domains and welcomed the influence of Germany. He was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo in 800. Charlemagne’s sons and grandsons would continue to rule Gaul for the next several generations.
 
During the 11th century, Gaul was largely decentralized, with the king’s vassals commanding their own power. The Normans, the Plantagenets, the Lusignans, the Hautevilles, the Ramnulfids, and the House of Toulouse were able to gain ownership of lands outside France for themselves. At this time the church was the center of a revival of monastic life and signaled increasing cultural growth after the Dark Ages.
 
For the next few centuries, the Caetian kings ruled Gaul, accumulating more power and influence over the land. The role of the monarchy expanded during this time, and the kings were more than just figureheads. Instead, many formed relationships with foreign royalty and forged alliances beneficial to their own ends. Concurrently, Gaul fought in the Crusades under several rulers.
 
The Houses of Anjou and Capt came into conflict during the Hundred Years’ War, when the English descendants of the former claimed the throne of France from the Valois. During this time, the Black Plague and several civil wars brought much suffering on the French people. But this awakened French nationalism and soon the country was at war again.
 
During the 16th century, the French kingdoms established colonies and began to claim North American territories. The French founded Quebec City (1608), Montréal (1642), Detroit (1701) and New Orleans (1718).
 
In 1572, religious conflicts gave rise to the murder of thousands of Protestant Huguenots. Following the war, Henry III of Navarre became king of France as Henry IV, and he enforced the Edict of Nantes (1598), which granted rights to Protestants. The Peace of Alais (1629) confirmed religious freedom, but limited Huguenot political rights. 
 
The Thirty Years War began in 1618 and eroded the power of the Catholic Habsburgs. France joined the war against Spain and the Holy Roman Empire in 1636. The Habsburgs invaded France, nearly threatening Paris until the Peace of Westphalia (1648) brought an end to fighting.
 
During the reign of Louis XIV (1643-1715), France was the dominant power in Europe. But chronic financial problems and deteriorating economic conditions gave rise to the French Revolution of 1789-94. Revolutionaries advocated egalitarian principles of government, but France reverted to constitutional monarchy four times, during the Empire of Napoleon, the Restoration of Louis XVIII, the reign of Louis-Philippe, and the Second Empire of Napoleon III. After the Franco-Prussian War (1870), the Third Republic was established and lasted until the military defeat of 1940.
 
During World War I, France lost an estimated 1,700,000 lives. The Maginot Line, an elaborate system of defenses, was established in the 1930s, but France was defeated early in World War II and occupied by the Germans. In July 1940, the country was divided into two sections, one ruled by the Germans and another, Vichy France, controlled by the French. However, German and Italian forces occupied all of the country.
 
The Vichy government acquiesced to most of Germany’s plans, allowing the plundering of resources, and the deportation of tens of thousands of French Jews to concentration camps. In November 1942, the German military occupied France. In 1944, the Allies liberated France.
 
After the war, France faced a new set of problems. A provisional government, led by General Charles de Gaulle, set up a new constitution and established a parliamentary form of government controlled by a series of coalitions. But this structure endured much tension, and on May 13, 1958, the government collapsed as a result of a four-year war with Algeria. De Gaulle became prime minister in June 1958 and was elected president in December of that year. At the same time, Algerian immigrants began streaming into France.
 
Seven years later, de Gaulle was reelected, although he was almost overthrown by a student-worker strike in May-June 1968. In April 1969, the government conducted a national referendum to create 21 regions with limited political powers. This was defeated, and de Gaulle resigned. Succeeding him as president of France have been Gaullist Georges Pompidou (1969-1974), Independent Republican Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (1974-1981), Socialist François Mitterrand (1981-1995), neo-Gaullist Jacques Chirac (1995-2007), and center-right Nicolas Sarkozy (2007-present).
 
France was among the European Union’s founding states in 1993. France continues to play a leading role in the EU, particularly in the development of European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP). In July 2008, France was instrumental in launching the Union for the Mediterranean (UM), a continuation of the EU Barcelona Process (PDF). France and Egypt hold the first rotating co-presidency, which serves as a forum for political and economic cooperation between the EU and its Mediterranean neighbors.
 
In October and November 2005, three weeks of violent unrest in the largely immigrant suburbs of Paris focused French attention further on their minority communities. Also in 2005 French voters disapproved the EU constitution in a national referendum. In the spring of 2006, students protested widely over restrictive employment legislation.
 
In May 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy of the rightist Union for a Popular Movement was elected France’s sixth president under the Fifth Republic, defeating Socialist Ségolène Royal 53% to 47%. Sarkozy promised  closer cooperation with the United States.
 
History of France (Wikipedia)
History of France (History World)
An Outline of French History (French-at-a-Touch)
French History Research Guide (Yale University Library)
France—History (Online Books, University of Pennsylvania)
Introduction to French Cheeses (Fine Cheeses from France)
 

 

more less
France's Newspapers
more less
History of U.S. Relations with France

Early French immigrants to America were traders, missionaries, and explorers who staked out significant claims in the New World in the name of France. Jean Ribaut established two French colonies in Florida in the 1550s to compete with the Spanish for primacy in trading across the Caribbean. By the time the pilgrims arrived in New England in 1620, Samuel de Champlain had established a permanent French colony in Quebec, and French explorers had discovered three of the Great Lakes. After traveling down the length of the Mississippi river in 1682, Robert Cavelier de La Salle claimed the entire Mississippi river basin for France, and in 1717 Jean-Baptiste Bienville solidified French control of the region by founding a successful colony in New Orleans. British success in the French-Indian war ended France’s colonial ambitions in the US, and in 1803 Jefferson bought out France’s remaining American interests in the Louisiana Purchase.

 
The first significant immigration wave came in 1685, when Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, which had upheld religious freedom in France. Although French policy only allowed Catholics to emigrate, the bloody persecution of Protestants caused 15,000 Huguenots to flee the country and seek refuge in America. On arrival, these Huguenots quickly assimilated into the mainstream culture, as they felt isolated from their Catholic French countrymen. 
 
Another wave arrived in the wake of the French Revolution. This included about 10,000 French Catholics, who were either of the nobility or of the working class that made their living in the service to the exiled nobility. Napoleon’s defeat in 1815 brought a sustained stream of immigrants, that lasted through the 1860s. Napoleon’s brother Jérôme arrived during this period with a few hundred former soldiers and attempted unsuccessfully to establish a number of settlements. 
 
Besides these notable waves, French immigration has historically been a small but steady stream of individuals and families, unlike other immigrant groups that often immigrate as entire communities. Demographers have tried to explain this as a French aversion to forming groups, or a free liberal environment in France, which stimulated relatively small overall immigration. French immigration reached a high of 77,000 during the 1840s and hit a low of 18,000 in the 1970s. 
more less
Current U.S. Relations with France

Relations between the US and France are friendly. High-level officials visit frequently, and bilateral contact at the cabinet level is active. The two countries share common interests and values on most political, economic and security issues. 

 
France is one of NATO’s top five troop contributors. The French support NATO modernization efforts and are leading contributors to the NATO Response Force (NRF). Due to security concerns, France also wants to develop EU battle-group sized force packages and joint European military production initiatives. President Nicolas Sarkozy supports the development of a European defense that complements the efforts of NATO, and during his December 2007 visit to Afghanistan, Sarkozy vowed French support for completion of NATO’s mission there. Some 2,200 French troops are currently serving in Kabul. The French have also hosted the Afghanistan Support Conference, which helps to combat drugs, violence and poverty.
 
France is also partnered with the US in the war on terror. French forces participated in Operation Enduring Freedom, the invasion of Afghanistan that followe the terrorist attackes of September 11, 2001, and in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan. In 2003, France opposed the use of force in Iraq and did not join the US-led coalition. France has agreed to generous debt relief for Iraq and accepted a NATO training mission there.
 
France does cooperate with the US to monitor and disrupt terrorist groups and has processed numerous US requests for information under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.
 
In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, France is working to contain the Hamas-led challenge to the Palestinian Authority. President Sarkozy, whose grandfather was Jewish, has repeatedly emphasized his admiration of Israel and support for its security balanced with calls for Israel’s full respect of commitments under the Middle East roadmap with respect to settlements and restrictions on Palestinian movement within the occupied territories.
 
Additionally, the US and France have worked closely to support an independent Lebanon. The US and France, in September 2004 , co-sponsored UN Security Council Resolution 1559 (PDF), which called for full withdrawal of Syrian forces, a free and fair electoral process, and disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias. France also co-sponsored UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and was one of the leading countries in Europe working to end hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006 by committing 2,000 troops to the UN peacekeeping force in the region.
 
According to the 2000 US Census,8,309,666 people identified themselves as French. The difficulty in precisely counting the number of French immigrants and their descendants living in the US arises from a number of factors. The conflation of disparate French-speaking ethnic groups, such as Acadians (or Cajuns), Quebeçois, and others into the single category “French” is a leading cause. Additionally, the tendency of older immigration records to identify newcomers according to their most recent country of residence led to over-representation of “French” immigrants who originated from other parts of Europe, and merely used France as a stepping-stone across the Atlantic. The states with the largest French populations are: California (782,059), Louisiana (545,416), Massachusetts (508,211), Michigan (489,235), New York (477,673), and Florida (444,162).
 
In 2006, 3,175,000 Americans visited France. Tourism has grown steadily after a drop-off from 2002-2003, when the number of tourists decreased from 2,996,000 to 2,447,000.
 
In 2006, 789,815 French visited the US. The number of tourists has fluctuated between a low of 688,887 in 2003 and a high of 878,648 in 2005.
 
US-France Relations on an Upswing (by Deb Riechmann, Associated Press)
more less
Where Does the Money Flow

On average, more than $1 billion in commercial transactions take place between France and the US every day, with the US being France’s sixth-ranked supplier and its sixth-largest customer. France ranks as the United States’ eighth most important trading partner for total goods (imports and exports). There are approximately 2,300 French subsidiaries in the US that provide more than 485,200 jobs and that generate an estimated $196 billion in turnover. The US is the top destination for French investments worldwide. Concurrently, the US is the largest foreign investor in France, employing more than 619,000 French citizens with aggregate investment estimated at $65.9 billion in 2006.

 
From 2003 to 2007, US imports from France were dominated by medicinal, dental and pharmaceutical preparations, which increased from $3.3 billion to $4.6 billion; engines for civilian aircraft, increasing from $1.9 billion to $3.6 billion; civilian aircraft, up from $3.6 billion to $4.8 billion; and alcoholic beverages (except wine and related products), moving up from $878 million to $1.5 billion. 
 
US exports to France were dominated by pharmaceutical preparations, which increased from $1.8 billion to $2.5 billion; engines for civilian aircraft, up from $2.2 billion to $4.4 billion; parts for civilian aircraft, increasing from $1.3 billion to $1.69 billion; civilian aircraft, moving up from $433 million to $2.2 billion; and medicinal equipment, increasing from $832 million to $1.06 billion.
 
In 2007, the US sold $286.9 million of defense articles and services to France. The US does not give aid to France.
 
more less
Controversies

US Moves to Extradite Noriega to France

In July 2007, a US Justice Department lawyer asked a federal court to extradite former Panamanian President Manuel Noriega to France when his prison term ended. The suit was filed on behalf of the French government, which wants to try Noriega on violations of French law, including illegal drug trafficking. Noriega has been fighting the request ever since. Noriega wants to return to Panama, where his family lives.
 
US and France in Headscarf Controversy
In 2004, the US and France were pitted against one another in the debate about whether Muslim girls should be allowed to wear headscarves in school. A young girl in Muskogee, Oklahoma, had been banned from wearing it, and the federal government had to step in. The French prohibition on wearing religious garb to schools in France was described by the Bush administration as violating “a basic right that should be protected.” The French have banned hijabs from schools there.
US takes opposite tack from France in head scarf debate (by Brian Knowlton, International Herald Tribune)
 
Freedom Fries
Nine days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, President Bush startled the international community by taking the position that “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists,” an admonition that was interpreted to mean that Bush would lead the fight against Islamist terrorists and all other nations had to follow his lead or be considered his enemies. This conflict came to a head in 2003 when Bush insisted that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that he was connected with al-Qaeda terrorists. Bush was wrong on both counts, but he demanded that other world leaders support his invasion and occupation of Iraq. When traditional allies France and Germany refused, Bush and his supporters launched a propaganda campaign against the French. This movement reached its most absurd moment in Mach 2003 when Republican Congressmen Robert Ney of Ohio and Walter Jones of North Carolina demanded that restaurants and snack bars in the House of Representatives rename “French fries” “freedom fries” and “French toast” “freedom toast.” The French, who were fighting alongside Americans in Afghanistan and, in the midst of the Iraq dispute, evacuated US citizens from Liberia during fighting there, were baffled by the Republican hostility towards them. Nathalie Loisau, a spokeswoman for the French embassy in Washington, D.C., said, “We are at a very serious moment dealing with very serious issues and we are not focusing on the name you give to potatoes.” In August 2006, menus in the House quietly changed back to French fries and French toast. Three months later, Ney resigned from Congress and spent 17 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy and fraud in the Jack Abramoff scandal. As a point of information, “French” fries were actually invented in Belgium.
 
Rumsfeld Calls France and Germany “Old Europe”
On January 22, 2003, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld referred to nations that did not support the US invasion of Iraq, specifically France and Germany, as “Old Europe,” and suggested that they were alone in their opposition. This prompted an angry firestorm of controvers and, German and French officials hit back. Particularly offensive to them was Rumsfeld’s assertion that they were not representative of a “New Europe,” which included the former Soviet bloc countries.
more less
Human Rights

In 2008, the State Department reported that France’s government generally respected the human rights of its citizens. Problems that were cited for 2007 included overcrowded and dilapidated prisons; lengthy pretrial detention; protracted investigation and trial proceedings; anti-Semitic incidents; discrimination against Muslims; societal hostility toward immigrants; societal violence against women; child abuse and child marriage; and trafficking in persons.

 
A 1905 law on the separation of religion and state prohibits discrimination on the basis of faith. However, some religious groups remained concerned about laws passed in 2001 and 2004 permitting the dissolution of groups under certain circumstances and prohibiting the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols by public school employees and students. Some Muslims described the deportation of a number of radical Islamist religious figures since 2004 as a restriction on religious freedom, although authorities cited security as the motivation. The wearing of “conspicuous” religious symbols—including Muslim headscarves, Jewish skullcaps, and large crosses—by employees and students in public schools is prohibited by law.
 
The Jewish community of France is estimated at 500-600,000 persons. According to the Representative Council of Jewish Organizations (CRIF), 261 anti-Semitic acts took place in the country during 2007, a decrease of 30% from 2006. However, senior CRIF officials noted that the violence of the acts had increased and the perpetrators were much younger than in previous years.  There were numerous attacks on Jews, anti-Semitic slurs directed against them, attacks on synagogues and Jewish cemeteries during the year.
 
Muslim women wearing headscarves continued to experience discrimination, including the refusal of service by private businesses. Media reports indicated that some companies discouraged female employees from wearing the headscarf or encouraged them to wear a bandanna instead.
 
Child marriage was a problem, particularly in communities of African and Asian origins. Although such marriage ceremonies took place primarily outside the country, authorities took steps to address the problem.
 
Trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation, forced domestic labor, and petty crime was a problem. The country was a destination for persons, primarily women, trafficked from Africa (notably Cameroon and Nigeria), Central and Eastern Europe (notably Bulgaria and Romania), and the former Soviet Union for the purposes of prostitution and domestic servitude. Trafficking of Brazilian women and girls to French Guyana for sexual exploitation was a problem.
 
Violence against immigrants continued to be a problem, particularly on the island of Corsica. The attacks caused some families to move to the mainland or return to their countries of origin.  Many observers expressed the view that discriminatory hiring practices in the public and private sectors prevented minorities from Africa, the Maghreb, the Middle East, and Asia from equal access to the workplace; a number of NGOs worked to sensitize the public to this problem.
 
Housing problems were particularly acute for an itinerant group known as Travelers, who were subject to special laws, which seemingly were not intended to apply to other citizens. Anyone over the age of 16 not settled in one place must have a travel permit that must be periodically renewed. Authorities did not consider Travelers’ caravans to be housing. As a result, Travelers were not entitled to housing assistance.
 
An inquiry conducted by AIDS Info Service in 2005 showed that 57.3% of HIV-positive respondents complained of discrimination.
 
more less
Debate
more less
Past Ambassadors

Benjamin Franklin

Appointment: Sep 14, 1778

Presentation of Credentials: Mar 23, 1779
Termination of Mission: Superseded, May 17, 1785
Note: Also commissioned to negotiate a treaty with Sweden.
 
Thomas Jefferson
Appointment: Mar 10, 1785
Presentation of Credentials: May 17, 1785
Termination of Mission: Recommissioned
 
Thomas Jefferson
Appointment: Oct 12, 1787
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 26, 1789
 
William Short
Appointment: Apr 20, 1790
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 14, 1790
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 15, 1792
 
Gouverneur Morris
Appointment: Jan 12, 1792
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 3, 1792
Termination of Mission: Recall requested by the Government of France, Apr 9, 1794
Note: Morris was still at his post when his successor presented credentials.
 
James Monroe
Appointment: May 28, 1794
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 15, 1794
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Dec 9, 1796
 
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Appointment: Sep 9, 1796
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate. Proceeded to post, but was not received by the Directory; left post, Feb 5, 1797. Nomination was confirmed by the Senate, but no record has been found of a new commission following confirmation.
 
William Vans Murray
Note: Not commissioned; nomination superseded by a nomination of Murray and two others to serve on a joint commission.
 
James A. Bayard
Appointment: Feb 19, 1801
Note: Did not serve under this appointment.
 
Robert R. Livingston
Appointment: Oct 2, 1801
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 6, 1801
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Nov 18, 1804
 
John Armstrong
Appointment: Jun 30, 1804
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 18, 1804
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 14, 1810
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate. Nomination was confirmed by the Senate, but no record has been found of a new commission following confirmation.
 
Jonathan Russell
Appointment: [Nov 5, 1810 ]
Presentation of Credentials: [see note below]
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Nov 17, 1811
Note: Commission not of record, but enclosed with an instruction of this date. Received his commission about Feb 13, 1811; was not issued a letter of credence, but continued his official relations with the Government of France begun in Sep. 1810 as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.
 
Joel Barlow
Appointment: Feb 27, 1811
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 17, 1811
Termination of Mission: Died at Zarnowiec, Dec 26, 1812, en route to Paris from consultations with French officials in Russia
 
William H. Crawford
Appointment: Apr 9, 1813
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 14, 1813
Termination of Mission: Reaccredited when France again became a Kingdom; presented new credentials Aug 16, 1814; left post, Apr 26–30, 1815
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on May 28, 1813.
 
Albert Gallatin
Appointment: Feb 28, 1815
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 16, 1816
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 16, 1823
 
James Brown
Appointment: Dec 9, 1823
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 13, 1824
Termination of Mission: Had farewell audience, Jun 28, 1829
 
William C. Rives
Appointment: Apr 18, 1829
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 25, 1829
Termination of Mission: Reaccredited after change of government; formally received on Jan 14, 1831; left post, Sep 27, 1832
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Feb 10, 1830.
 
Levett Harris
Appointment: Mar 6, 1833
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 20, 1833
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Sep 30, 1833
 
Edward Livingston
Appointment: May 29, 1833
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 30, 1833
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 29, 1835
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Mar 5, 1834.
 
Note: Thomas P. Barton served as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim until Nov 8, 1835, when he closed the Legation in Paris, having been recalled.
 
Lewis Cass
Appointment: Oct 4, 1836
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 1, 1836
Termination of Mission: Left post, Nov 12, 1842
 
Henry A. Wise
Note: Not commissioned; nomination rejected by the Senate.
 
William R. King
Appointment: Apr 9, 1844
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 1, 1844
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Sep 15, 1846
 
Charles J. Ingersoll
Note: Note commissioned; nomination rejected by the Senate.
 
Richard Rush
Appointment: Mar 3, 1847
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 31, 1847
Termination of Mission: Reaccredited on Apr 26, 1848, when France again became a republic; presented recall, Oct 8, 1849
 
William C. Rives
Appointment: Jul 20, 1849
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 8, 1849
Termination of Mission: Reaccredited on Jan 10, 1853, when France again became an empire; presented recall, May 12, 1853
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Mar 18, 1850.
 
John Y. Mason
Appointment: Oct 10, 1853
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 22, 1854
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Oct 3, 1859
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 6, 1853.
 
Charles J. Faulkner
Appointment: Jan 16, 1860
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 4, 1860
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 12, 1861
 
William L. Dayton
Appointment: Mar 18, 1861
Presentation of Credentials: May 19, 1861
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Dec 1, 1864
 
John Bigelow
Appointment: Mar 15, 1865
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 23, 1865
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Dec 23, 1866
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 22, 1866.
 
John A. Dix
Appointment: Sep 24, 1866
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 23, 1866
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 23, 1869
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Mar 2, 1867.
 
Elihu B. Washburne
Appointment: Mar 17, 1869
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 23, 1869
Termination of Mission: Reaccredited on May 8, 1871, when France again became a republic; presented recall, Sep 5, 1877
 
Edward F. Noyes
Appointment: Jul 1, 1877
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 5, 1877
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Aug 5, 1881
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Oct 30, 1877.
 
Levi P. Morton
Appointment: Mar 21, 1881
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 5, 1881
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 14, 1885
 
Robert M. McLane
Appointment: Mar 23, 1885
Presentation of Credentials: May 14, 1885
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 20, 1889
 
Whitelaw Reid
Appointment: Mar 23, 1889
Presentation of Credentials: May 21, 1889
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 25, 1892
 
T. Jefferson Coolidge
Appointment: May 12, 1892
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 10, 1892
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 4, 1893
 
James B. Eustis
Appointment: Mar 20, 1893
Note: Took oath of office, but did not proceed to post in this capacity.
 
James B. Eustis
Appointment: Apr 8, 1893
Presentation of Credentials: May 6, 1893
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 24, 1897
 
Horace Porter
Appointment: Mar 19, 1897
Presentation of Credentials: May 26, 1897
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 2, 1905
 
Robert S. McCormick
Appointment: Mar 8, 1905
Presentation of Credentials: May 2, 1905
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Mar 2, 1907
 
Henry White
Appointment: Dec 19, 1906
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 23, 1907
Termination of Mission: Left France, Nov 3, 1909
 
Robert Bacon
Appointment: Dec 21, 1909
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 31, 1909
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Apr 19, 1912
 
Myron T. Herrick
Appointment: Feb 15, 1912
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 29, 1912
Termination of Mission: Left post, Nov 28, 1914
 
William G. Sharp
Appointment: Jun 19, 1914
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 4, 1914
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Apr 14, 1919
 
Hugh Campbell Wallace
Appointment: Feb 27, 1919
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 22, 1919
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jul 5, 1921
 
Myron T. Herrick
Appointment: Apr 16, 1921
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 15, 1921
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Mar 31, 1929
 
Walter E. Edge
Appointment: Nov 21, 1929
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 18, 1929
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Apr 13, 1933
 
Jesse Isidor Straus
Appointment: Mar 17, 1933
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 8, 1933
Termination of Mission: Left France, Aug 5, 1936
 
William Christian Bullitt
Appointment: Aug 25, 1936
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 13, 1936
Termination of Mission: Left La Bourboule, Jul 11, 1940
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 23, 1937. Near the end of Bullitt’s term of service, Anthony J. Drexel Biddle, Jr., acted as Deputy Ambassador to France, Jun 13–25, 1940.
 
William D. Leahy
Appointment: Nov 29, 1940
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 8, 1941
Termination of Mission: Left Vichy, May 1, 1942
Note: S. Pinkney Tuck was serving as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim when France severed diplomatic relations with the US, Nov 8, 1942.
 
Jefferson Caffery
Appointment: Nov 25, 1944
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 30, 1944
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 13, 1949
Note: The Embassy in Paris had been opened to the public Dec 1, 1944, with Ambassador Caffery in charge pending presentation of his letter of credence.
 
David K. E. Bruce
Appointment: May 9, 1949
Presentation of Credentials: May 17, 1949
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 10, 1952
 
James Clement Dunn
Appointment: Mar 13, 1952
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 27, 1952
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 2, 1953
 
C. Douglas Dillon
Appointment: Feb 27, 1953
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 13, 1953
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 28, 1957
 
Amory Houghton
Appointment: Mar 14, 1957
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 17, 1957
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 19, 1961
 
James M. Gavin
Appointment: Feb 22, 1961
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 21, 1961
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 26, 1962
 
Charles E. Bohlen
Appointment: Sep 4, 1962
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 27, 1962
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 9, 1968
 
Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr.
Appointment: Apr 22, 1968
Presentation of Credentials: May 25, 1968
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 25, 1970
Note: Was Vice Presidential nominee in 1972, running with George McGovern. He lost to Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.
 
Arthur K. Watson
Appointment: Apr 8, 1970
Presentation of Credentials: May 6, 1970
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 30, 1972
 
John N. Irwin, II
Appointment: Feb 2, 1973
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 23, 1973
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 20, 1974
 
Kenneth Rush
Appointment: Sep 19, 1974
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 21, 1974
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 14, 1977
 
Arthur A. Hartman
Appointment: Jun 8, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 7, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 14, 1981
 
Evan Griffith Galbraith
Appointment: Nov 6, 1981
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 2, 1981
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 15, 1985
 
Joe M. Rodgers
Appointment: Jul 19, 1985
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 20, 1985
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 8, 1989
 
Walter J.P. Curley
Appointment: May 12, 1989
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 6, 1989
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 11, 1993
 
Pamela Harriman
Appointment: May 8, 1993
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 30, 1993
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Feb 5, 1997
 
Felix G. Rohatyn
Appointment: Aug 1, 1997
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 11, 1997
Termination of Mission: Left post Dec 7, 2000
 
Howard H. Leach
Appointment: Jul 12, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 4, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 16, 2005
 
Craig Roberts Stapleton
Appointment: Jun 21, 2005
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 25, 2005
Termination of Mission:
Note: Also commissioned to Monaco, Nov 22, 2006.
 
more less
France's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Vimont, Pierre

 

Pierre Vimont has served as France’s Ambassador to the United States since August 1, 2007.Vimont holds a degree in law and is a graduate of the Institute of Political Studies and the National School of Administration (ENA). He joined the Foreign Service in 1977 and was first posted to London, where he was first secretary from 1978 to 1981. He spent the next four years with the Press and Information Office at the Quai d’Orsay.
 
From 1985 to 1986 Vimont was served at the Institute for East-West Security in New York. Returning to Europe, he served as second counselor with the Permanent Representation of France to the European Communities in Brussels (1986-1990) and was subsequently chief of staff to the minister-delegate for European affairs from 1990 to 1993.
 
Vimont went on to serve as director for development and scientific, technical and educational cooperation and then for cultural, scientific and technical relations. He was deputy director general of the entire Cultural, Scientific and Technical Relations Department from 1996 to 1997, and then director of European Cooperation from 1997 to 1999.
 
He served as ambassador and permanent representative of France to the European Union from 1999 to 2002, and, prior to his present appointment, Vimont was chief of staff to the minister of foreign affairs.
 

more less
France's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
more less

Comments

Leave a comment

captcha

U.S. Ambassador to France

Rivkin, Charles
ambassador-image

Who says President Barack Obama isn’t a traditionalist? The man who promised change in Washington has decided to continue the long-held habit of presidents reserving the post of ambassador to France for, well, anyone but career diplomats. Only one of the last twelve U.S. ambassadors to France (Arthur Hartman under Jimmy Carter) has been a Foreign Service officer. The others have all been what is politely known as “non-career appointees.” Both of President George W. Bush’s ambassadors, Howard Leach and Craig Roberts Stapleton, were major Republican Party fundraisers. Now, the ambassadorship goes to Charles Hammerman Rivkin, one-time head of the Muppets empire, who helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama in 2008.

 
Rivkin, 47, is the son of the late William R. Rivkin, a lawyer and Democratic insider who was appointed ambassador to Luxembourg by President John F. Kennedy and ambassador to Senegal and Gambia by President Lyndon Johnson. Rivkin was only a child when his father died in Dakar in 1967. His family established the William R. Rivkin Award in 1968, which is awarded each year by the American Foreign Service Association to a mid-career Foreign Service officer who best exemplifies “constructive dissent” in their duties.
 
After growing up with his mother and three siblings (Julia, Laura, and Robert), Rivkin went on to attend college at Yale, receiving a B.A. in political science and international relations. He later earned an MBA from Harvard University.
 
Rivkin worked as a corporate finance analyst at Salomon Brothers, before joining The Jim Henson Company in 1988 as director of strategic planning. Two years later, he was made vice president, In 1990, he married Susan Melissa Tolson, an analyst at Capital Research Company.
 
Rivkin continued to rise at the company famous for creating the Muppets, becoming senior vice president and chief operating officer in 1991, executive vice president and COO in 1994, and president and COO in 1995, making him the first chief executive who was not a member of the Henson family. In 2000, he was given the title of CEO, and engineered the sale of the company to the German-owned EM.TV for $1 billion.
 
By the following year, EM.TV’s legal and financial troubles led to rumors that The Henson Company might again be sold, but after two years of struggling to find a buyer, German executives agreed to sell the company back to the Henson family in 2003, which in turn sold the Muppets franchise to the Walt Disney Company. Rivkin then stepped aside to allow the family to once again run the company, while retaining a position on the board.
 
During the 2004 presidential campaign, Rivkin was an active supporter of Democratic nominee John Kerry, and served as an at-large California delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
 
In 2005, Rivkin became president and chief executive officer of Wild Brain, a San-Francisco-based entertainment and animation production company whose television series include Yo Gabba Gabba! and Higglytown Heroes. Rivkin is an executive producer of Yo Gabba Gabba!, which airs on Nickelodeon and Noggin cable networks.
 
Outside of his business dealings, Rivkin is a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council and the Pacific Council on International Policy.
 
When Obama shattered campaign fundraising records with a $150 million haul in September 2008, his bundlers in California played a key role in amassing so much cash. Rivkin was one of these major players, serving as Obama’s Southern California finance co-chair. According to OpenSecrets.org, he sent at least $500,000 towards Obama’s campaign committee as a bundler and another $300,000 toward his inaugural committee. Since the 1994 election cycle, Rivkin has personally contributed more than $97,500 to Democrats, including $6,600 to Obama.
 

Rivkin is not the only member of his family to receive an appointment from Obama. His brother, Robert, was selected to be general counsel for the Department of Transportation, and Robert’s wife, Cindy S. Moelis, a close friend of Michelle Obama, was chosen to direct the Commission on White House Fellows.

 

California Gives Most to Obama Camp (by Jeffrey Ressner, Politico)

 

more
Bookmark and Share
News
more less
Overview
France’s history has been a bloody one, first under the control of the Roman Empire and subsequently as part of ever-changing kingdoms. This continued during World Wars I and II, when France lost many troops and was even occupied by German forces for four years. Since then, France has developed into a powerful nation with a leading role in international politics and finance, and as one of the European Union’s founding states. Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, France has had its differences with the Bush administration, most notably about using force in Iraq. But the two governments have mostly repaired relations. 
more less
Basic Information
Lay of the Land: Located in Western Europe, France is covered by a broad plain in its western and northern regions, while upland plateaus predominate in the south central area. About a third of the land is mountainous. In the Alps is France’s–and Western Europe’s–highest point, Mont Blanc (15,771 feet). The richly diverse terrain is watered by four major river systems: the Seine, the Loire, the Garonne, and the Rhone-Saône system. The Rhine forms part of the Franco-German border. France also borders Belgium and Luxembourg to the northeast, and Switzerland the Italy to the southeast. France shares a southwestern border with Spain and Andorra. The independent nation of Monaco is surrounded by France on the Mediterranean coast.
 
Population: 64.1 million
 
Religions: Roman Catholic 51%, Muslim 8.3%, Protestant 3%, Buddhist 1%, Jewish (mostly Orthodox) 0.9%, Evangelical 0.6%, non-religious 31%. Only 8% of Catholics regularly attend services, and only 52% of Catholics declare that the existence of God is “certain or possible”.
 
Ethnic Groups: Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities.
 
Languages: French (official) 84.4%, Alemannisch 2.5%, Auvergnat 2.2%, Italian 1.7%, Portuguese 1.2%, Breton 0.8%, Corsican 0.8%, Gascon 0.4%, Provençal 0.4%, Catalan 0.2%, Romani (Balkan Sinte, Vlax) 0.06%. There are 29 living languages in France.

 

 
more less
History
France was inhabited by Celtic tribes called Gauls by the Romans and the nation was known as Gaul. But before the Romans settled in Gaul, Greek navigators settled in the area now known as Provence. Another group, the Phoceans, founded many French cities, but came into frequent conflict with the Celts and the Ligurians.
 
In 122 BC, Rome annexed Provence, and later the Consul of Gaul, Julius Caesar, conquered all of the country. Under the Romans, Gaul was divided into several provinces, and the Romans repeatedly displaced entire populations of locals to prevent these groups from becoming a threat to Roman control. Soon, the Celtic culture was replaced by the Gallo-Roman culture.
 
In 418, the Aquitanian province was given to the Goths in exchange for their support against the Vandals. The Roman Empire continued to suffer barbarian raids and had trouble responding to them. Gradually, the empire lost power and began to abandon Gaul to the Visigoths and Burgundians. Once again, the country became a series of small states. 
 
Although united briefly in 486 under Clovus 1 of the Salian Franks, Gaul was divided into four kingdoms after his death. These Frankish kingdoms were again united in 751, when Pippin the Short established the Carolingian dynasty as King of the Franks. 
 
Pippin’s son, Charlemagne, became king in 771. He quickly united the Frankish domains and welcomed the influence of Germany. He was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo in 800. Charlemagne’s sons and grandsons would continue to rule Gaul for the next several generations.
 
During the 11th century, Gaul was largely decentralized, with the king’s vassals commanding their own power. The Normans, the Plantagenets, the Lusignans, the Hautevilles, the Ramnulfids, and the House of Toulouse were able to gain ownership of lands outside France for themselves. At this time the church was the center of a revival of monastic life and signaled increasing cultural growth after the Dark Ages.
 
For the next few centuries, the Caetian kings ruled Gaul, accumulating more power and influence over the land. The role of the monarchy expanded during this time, and the kings were more than just figureheads. Instead, many formed relationships with foreign royalty and forged alliances beneficial to their own ends. Concurrently, Gaul fought in the Crusades under several rulers.
 
The Houses of Anjou and Capt came into conflict during the Hundred Years’ War, when the English descendants of the former claimed the throne of France from the Valois. During this time, the Black Plague and several civil wars brought much suffering on the French people. But this awakened French nationalism and soon the country was at war again.
 
During the 16th century, the French kingdoms established colonies and began to claim North American territories. The French founded Quebec City (1608), Montréal (1642), Detroit (1701) and New Orleans (1718).
 
In 1572, religious conflicts gave rise to the murder of thousands of Protestant Huguenots. Following the war, Henry III of Navarre became king of France as Henry IV, and he enforced the Edict of Nantes (1598), which granted rights to Protestants. The Peace of Alais (1629) confirmed religious freedom, but limited Huguenot political rights. 
 
The Thirty Years War began in 1618 and eroded the power of the Catholic Habsburgs. France joined the war against Spain and the Holy Roman Empire in 1636. The Habsburgs invaded France, nearly threatening Paris until the Peace of Westphalia (1648) brought an end to fighting.
 
During the reign of Louis XIV (1643-1715), France was the dominant power in Europe. But chronic financial problems and deteriorating economic conditions gave rise to the French Revolution of 1789-94. Revolutionaries advocated egalitarian principles of government, but France reverted to constitutional monarchy four times, during the Empire of Napoleon, the Restoration of Louis XVIII, the reign of Louis-Philippe, and the Second Empire of Napoleon III. After the Franco-Prussian War (1870), the Third Republic was established and lasted until the military defeat of 1940.
 
During World War I, France lost an estimated 1,700,000 lives. The Maginot Line, an elaborate system of defenses, was established in the 1930s, but France was defeated early in World War II and occupied by the Germans. In July 1940, the country was divided into two sections, one ruled by the Germans and another, Vichy France, controlled by the French. However, German and Italian forces occupied all of the country.
 
The Vichy government acquiesced to most of Germany’s plans, allowing the plundering of resources, and the deportation of tens of thousands of French Jews to concentration camps. In November 1942, the German military occupied France. In 1944, the Allies liberated France.
 
After the war, France faced a new set of problems. A provisional government, led by General Charles de Gaulle, set up a new constitution and established a parliamentary form of government controlled by a series of coalitions. But this structure endured much tension, and on May 13, 1958, the government collapsed as a result of a four-year war with Algeria. De Gaulle became prime minister in June 1958 and was elected president in December of that year. At the same time, Algerian immigrants began streaming into France.
 
Seven years later, de Gaulle was reelected, although he was almost overthrown by a student-worker strike in May-June 1968. In April 1969, the government conducted a national referendum to create 21 regions with limited political powers. This was defeated, and de Gaulle resigned. Succeeding him as president of France have been Gaullist Georges Pompidou (1969-1974), Independent Republican Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (1974-1981), Socialist François Mitterrand (1981-1995), neo-Gaullist Jacques Chirac (1995-2007), and center-right Nicolas Sarkozy (2007-present).
 
France was among the European Union’s founding states in 1993. France continues to play a leading role in the EU, particularly in the development of European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP). In July 2008, France was instrumental in launching the Union for the Mediterranean (UM), a continuation of the EU Barcelona Process (PDF). France and Egypt hold the first rotating co-presidency, which serves as a forum for political and economic cooperation between the EU and its Mediterranean neighbors.
 
In October and November 2005, three weeks of violent unrest in the largely immigrant suburbs of Paris focused French attention further on their minority communities. Also in 2005 French voters disapproved the EU constitution in a national referendum. In the spring of 2006, students protested widely over restrictive employment legislation.
 
In May 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy of the rightist Union for a Popular Movement was elected France’s sixth president under the Fifth Republic, defeating Socialist Ségolène Royal 53% to 47%. Sarkozy promised  closer cooperation with the United States.
 
History of France (Wikipedia)
History of France (History World)
An Outline of French History (French-at-a-Touch)
French History Research Guide (Yale University Library)
France—History (Online Books, University of Pennsylvania)
Introduction to French Cheeses (Fine Cheeses from France)
 

 

more less
France's Newspapers
more less
History of U.S. Relations with France

Early French immigrants to America were traders, missionaries, and explorers who staked out significant claims in the New World in the name of France. Jean Ribaut established two French colonies in Florida in the 1550s to compete with the Spanish for primacy in trading across the Caribbean. By the time the pilgrims arrived in New England in 1620, Samuel de Champlain had established a permanent French colony in Quebec, and French explorers had discovered three of the Great Lakes. After traveling down the length of the Mississippi river in 1682, Robert Cavelier de La Salle claimed the entire Mississippi river basin for France, and in 1717 Jean-Baptiste Bienville solidified French control of the region by founding a successful colony in New Orleans. British success in the French-Indian war ended France’s colonial ambitions in the US, and in 1803 Jefferson bought out France’s remaining American interests in the Louisiana Purchase.

 
The first significant immigration wave came in 1685, when Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, which had upheld religious freedom in France. Although French policy only allowed Catholics to emigrate, the bloody persecution of Protestants caused 15,000 Huguenots to flee the country and seek refuge in America. On arrival, these Huguenots quickly assimilated into the mainstream culture, as they felt isolated from their Catholic French countrymen. 
 
Another wave arrived in the wake of the French Revolution. This included about 10,000 French Catholics, who were either of the nobility or of the working class that made their living in the service to the exiled nobility. Napoleon’s defeat in 1815 brought a sustained stream of immigrants, that lasted through the 1860s. Napoleon’s brother Jérôme arrived during this period with a few hundred former soldiers and attempted unsuccessfully to establish a number of settlements. 
 
Besides these notable waves, French immigration has historically been a small but steady stream of individuals and families, unlike other immigrant groups that often immigrate as entire communities. Demographers have tried to explain this as a French aversion to forming groups, or a free liberal environment in France, which stimulated relatively small overall immigration. French immigration reached a high of 77,000 during the 1840s and hit a low of 18,000 in the 1970s. 
more less
Current U.S. Relations with France

Relations between the US and France are friendly. High-level officials visit frequently, and bilateral contact at the cabinet level is active. The two countries share common interests and values on most political, economic and security issues. 

 
France is one of NATO’s top five troop contributors. The French support NATO modernization efforts and are leading contributors to the NATO Response Force (NRF). Due to security concerns, France also wants to develop EU battle-group sized force packages and joint European military production initiatives. President Nicolas Sarkozy supports the development of a European defense that complements the efforts of NATO, and during his December 2007 visit to Afghanistan, Sarkozy vowed French support for completion of NATO’s mission there. Some 2,200 French troops are currently serving in Kabul. The French have also hosted the Afghanistan Support Conference, which helps to combat drugs, violence and poverty.
 
France is also partnered with the US in the war on terror. French forces participated in Operation Enduring Freedom, the invasion of Afghanistan that followe the terrorist attackes of September 11, 2001, and in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan. In 2003, France opposed the use of force in Iraq and did not join the US-led coalition. France has agreed to generous debt relief for Iraq and accepted a NATO training mission there.
 
France does cooperate with the US to monitor and disrupt terrorist groups and has processed numerous US requests for information under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.
 
In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, France is working to contain the Hamas-led challenge to the Palestinian Authority. President Sarkozy, whose grandfather was Jewish, has repeatedly emphasized his admiration of Israel and support for its security balanced with calls for Israel’s full respect of commitments under the Middle East roadmap with respect to settlements and restrictions on Palestinian movement within the occupied territories.
 
Additionally, the US and France have worked closely to support an independent Lebanon. The US and France, in September 2004 , co-sponsored UN Security Council Resolution 1559 (PDF), which called for full withdrawal of Syrian forces, a free and fair electoral process, and disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias. France also co-sponsored UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and was one of the leading countries in Europe working to end hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006 by committing 2,000 troops to the UN peacekeeping force in the region.
 
According to the 2000 US Census,8,309,666 people identified themselves as French. The difficulty in precisely counting the number of French immigrants and their descendants living in the US arises from a number of factors. The conflation of disparate French-speaking ethnic groups, such as Acadians (or Cajuns), Quebeçois, and others into the single category “French” is a leading cause. Additionally, the tendency of older immigration records to identify newcomers according to their most recent country of residence led to over-representation of “French” immigrants who originated from other parts of Europe, and merely used France as a stepping-stone across the Atlantic. The states with the largest French populations are: California (782,059), Louisiana (545,416), Massachusetts (508,211), Michigan (489,235), New York (477,673), and Florida (444,162).
 
In 2006, 3,175,000 Americans visited France. Tourism has grown steadily after a drop-off from 2002-2003, when the number of tourists decreased from 2,996,000 to 2,447,000.
 
In 2006, 789,815 French visited the US. The number of tourists has fluctuated between a low of 688,887 in 2003 and a high of 878,648 in 2005.
 
US-France Relations on an Upswing (by Deb Riechmann, Associated Press)
more less
Where Does the Money Flow

On average, more than $1 billion in commercial transactions take place between France and the US every day, with the US being France’s sixth-ranked supplier and its sixth-largest customer. France ranks as the United States’ eighth most important trading partner for total goods (imports and exports). There are approximately 2,300 French subsidiaries in the US that provide more than 485,200 jobs and that generate an estimated $196 billion in turnover. The US is the top destination for French investments worldwide. Concurrently, the US is the largest foreign investor in France, employing more than 619,000 French citizens with aggregate investment estimated at $65.9 billion in 2006.

 
From 2003 to 2007, US imports from France were dominated by medicinal, dental and pharmaceutical preparations, which increased from $3.3 billion to $4.6 billion; engines for civilian aircraft, increasing from $1.9 billion to $3.6 billion; civilian aircraft, up from $3.6 billion to $4.8 billion; and alcoholic beverages (except wine and related products), moving up from $878 million to $1.5 billion. 
 
US exports to France were dominated by pharmaceutical preparations, which increased from $1.8 billion to $2.5 billion; engines for civilian aircraft, up from $2.2 billion to $4.4 billion; parts for civilian aircraft, increasing from $1.3 billion to $1.69 billion; civilian aircraft, moving up from $433 million to $2.2 billion; and medicinal equipment, increasing from $832 million to $1.06 billion.
 
In 2007, the US sold $286.9 million of defense articles and services to France. The US does not give aid to France.
 
more less
Controversies

US Moves to Extradite Noriega to France

In July 2007, a US Justice Department lawyer asked a federal court to extradite former Panamanian President Manuel Noriega to France when his prison term ended. The suit was filed on behalf of the French government, which wants to try Noriega on violations of French law, including illegal drug trafficking. Noriega has been fighting the request ever since. Noriega wants to return to Panama, where his family lives.
 
US and France in Headscarf Controversy
In 2004, the US and France were pitted against one another in the debate about whether Muslim girls should be allowed to wear headscarves in school. A young girl in Muskogee, Oklahoma, had been banned from wearing it, and the federal government had to step in. The French prohibition on wearing religious garb to schools in France was described by the Bush administration as violating “a basic right that should be protected.” The French have banned hijabs from schools there.
US takes opposite tack from France in head scarf debate (by Brian Knowlton, International Herald Tribune)
 
Freedom Fries
Nine days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, President Bush startled the international community by taking the position that “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists,” an admonition that was interpreted to mean that Bush would lead the fight against Islamist terrorists and all other nations had to follow his lead or be considered his enemies. This conflict came to a head in 2003 when Bush insisted that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that he was connected with al-Qaeda terrorists. Bush was wrong on both counts, but he demanded that other world leaders support his invasion and occupation of Iraq. When traditional allies France and Germany refused, Bush and his supporters launched a propaganda campaign against the French. This movement reached its most absurd moment in Mach 2003 when Republican Congressmen Robert Ney of Ohio and Walter Jones of North Carolina demanded that restaurants and snack bars in the House of Representatives rename “French fries” “freedom fries” and “French toast” “freedom toast.” The French, who were fighting alongside Americans in Afghanistan and, in the midst of the Iraq dispute, evacuated US citizens from Liberia during fighting there, were baffled by the Republican hostility towards them. Nathalie Loisau, a spokeswoman for the French embassy in Washington, D.C., said, “We are at a very serious moment dealing with very serious issues and we are not focusing on the name you give to potatoes.” In August 2006, menus in the House quietly changed back to French fries and French toast. Three months later, Ney resigned from Congress and spent 17 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy and fraud in the Jack Abramoff scandal. As a point of information, “French” fries were actually invented in Belgium.
 
Rumsfeld Calls France and Germany “Old Europe”
On January 22, 2003, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld referred to nations that did not support the US invasion of Iraq, specifically France and Germany, as “Old Europe,” and suggested that they were alone in their opposition. This prompted an angry firestorm of controvers and, German and French officials hit back. Particularly offensive to them was Rumsfeld’s assertion that they were not representative of a “New Europe,” which included the former Soviet bloc countries.
more less
Human Rights

In 2008, the State Department reported that France’s government generally respected the human rights of its citizens. Problems that were cited for 2007 included overcrowded and dilapidated prisons; lengthy pretrial detention; protracted investigation and trial proceedings; anti-Semitic incidents; discrimination against Muslims; societal hostility toward immigrants; societal violence against women; child abuse and child marriage; and trafficking in persons.

 
A 1905 law on the separation of religion and state prohibits discrimination on the basis of faith. However, some religious groups remained concerned about laws passed in 2001 and 2004 permitting the dissolution of groups under certain circumstances and prohibiting the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols by public school employees and students. Some Muslims described the deportation of a number of radical Islamist religious figures since 2004 as a restriction on religious freedom, although authorities cited security as the motivation. The wearing of “conspicuous” religious symbols—including Muslim headscarves, Jewish skullcaps, and large crosses—by employees and students in public schools is prohibited by law.
 
The Jewish community of France is estimated at 500-600,000 persons. According to the Representative Council of Jewish Organizations (CRIF), 261 anti-Semitic acts took place in the country during 2007, a decrease of 30% from 2006. However, senior CRIF officials noted that the violence of the acts had increased and the perpetrators were much younger than in previous years.  There were numerous attacks on Jews, anti-Semitic slurs directed against them, attacks on synagogues and Jewish cemeteries during the year.
 
Muslim women wearing headscarves continued to experience discrimination, including the refusal of service by private businesses. Media reports indicated that some companies discouraged female employees from wearing the headscarf or encouraged them to wear a bandanna instead.
 
Child marriage was a problem, particularly in communities of African and Asian origins. Although such marriage ceremonies took place primarily outside the country, authorities took steps to address the problem.
 
Trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation, forced domestic labor, and petty crime was a problem. The country was a destination for persons, primarily women, trafficked from Africa (notably Cameroon and Nigeria), Central and Eastern Europe (notably Bulgaria and Romania), and the former Soviet Union for the purposes of prostitution and domestic servitude. Trafficking of Brazilian women and girls to French Guyana for sexual exploitation was a problem.
 
Violence against immigrants continued to be a problem, particularly on the island of Corsica. The attacks caused some families to move to the mainland or return to their countries of origin.  Many observers expressed the view that discriminatory hiring practices in the public and private sectors prevented minorities from Africa, the Maghreb, the Middle East, and Asia from equal access to the workplace; a number of NGOs worked to sensitize the public to this problem.
 
Housing problems were particularly acute for an itinerant group known as Travelers, who were subject to special laws, which seemingly were not intended to apply to other citizens. Anyone over the age of 16 not settled in one place must have a travel permit that must be periodically renewed. Authorities did not consider Travelers’ caravans to be housing. As a result, Travelers were not entitled to housing assistance.
 
An inquiry conducted by AIDS Info Service in 2005 showed that 57.3% of HIV-positive respondents complained of discrimination.
 
more less
Debate
more less
Past Ambassadors

Benjamin Franklin

Appointment: Sep 14, 1778

Presentation of Credentials: Mar 23, 1779
Termination of Mission: Superseded, May 17, 1785
Note: Also commissioned to negotiate a treaty with Sweden.
 
Thomas Jefferson
Appointment: Mar 10, 1785
Presentation of Credentials: May 17, 1785
Termination of Mission: Recommissioned
 
Thomas Jefferson
Appointment: Oct 12, 1787
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 26, 1789
 
William Short
Appointment: Apr 20, 1790
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 14, 1790
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 15, 1792
 
Gouverneur Morris
Appointment: Jan 12, 1792
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 3, 1792
Termination of Mission: Recall requested by the Government of France, Apr 9, 1794
Note: Morris was still at his post when his successor presented credentials.
 
James Monroe
Appointment: May 28, 1794
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 15, 1794
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Dec 9, 1796
 
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Appointment: Sep 9, 1796
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate. Proceeded to post, but was not received by the Directory; left post, Feb 5, 1797. Nomination was confirmed by the Senate, but no record has been found of a new commission following confirmation.
 
William Vans Murray
Note: Not commissioned; nomination superseded by a nomination of Murray and two others to serve on a joint commission.
 
James A. Bayard
Appointment: Feb 19, 1801
Note: Did not serve under this appointment.
 
Robert R. Livingston
Appointment: Oct 2, 1801
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 6, 1801
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Nov 18, 1804
 
John Armstrong
Appointment: Jun 30, 1804
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 18, 1804
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 14, 1810
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate. Nomination was confirmed by the Senate, but no record has been found of a new commission following confirmation.
 
Jonathan Russell
Appointment: [Nov 5, 1810 ]
Presentation of Credentials: [see note below]
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Nov 17, 1811
Note: Commission not of record, but enclosed with an instruction of this date. Received his commission about Feb 13, 1811; was not issued a letter of credence, but continued his official relations with the Government of France begun in Sep. 1810 as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.
 
Joel Barlow
Appointment: Feb 27, 1811
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 17, 1811
Termination of Mission: Died at Zarnowiec, Dec 26, 1812, en route to Paris from consultations with French officials in Russia
 
William H. Crawford
Appointment: Apr 9, 1813
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 14, 1813
Termination of Mission: Reaccredited when France again became a Kingdom; presented new credentials Aug 16, 1814; left post, Apr 26–30, 1815
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on May 28, 1813.
 
Albert Gallatin
Appointment: Feb 28, 1815
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 16, 1816
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 16, 1823
 
James Brown
Appointment: Dec 9, 1823
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 13, 1824
Termination of Mission: Had farewell audience, Jun 28, 1829
 
William C. Rives
Appointment: Apr 18, 1829
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 25, 1829
Termination of Mission: Reaccredited after change of government; formally received on Jan 14, 1831; left post, Sep 27, 1832
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Feb 10, 1830.
 
Levett Harris
Appointment: Mar 6, 1833
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 20, 1833
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Sep 30, 1833
 
Edward Livingston
Appointment: May 29, 1833
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 30, 1833
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 29, 1835
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Mar 5, 1834.
 
Note: Thomas P. Barton served as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim until Nov 8, 1835, when he closed the Legation in Paris, having been recalled.
 
Lewis Cass
Appointment: Oct 4, 1836
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 1, 1836
Termination of Mission: Left post, Nov 12, 1842
 
Henry A. Wise
Note: Not commissioned; nomination rejected by the Senate.
 
William R. King
Appointment: Apr 9, 1844
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 1, 1844
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Sep 15, 1846
 
Charles J. Ingersoll
Note: Note commissioned; nomination rejected by the Senate.
 
Richard Rush
Appointment: Mar 3, 1847
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 31, 1847
Termination of Mission: Reaccredited on Apr 26, 1848, when France again became a republic; presented recall, Oct 8, 1849
 
William C. Rives
Appointment: Jul 20, 1849
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 8, 1849
Termination of Mission: Reaccredited on Jan 10, 1853, when France again became an empire; presented recall, May 12, 1853
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Mar 18, 1850.
 
John Y. Mason
Appointment: Oct 10, 1853
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 22, 1854
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Oct 3, 1859
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 6, 1853.
 
Charles J. Faulkner
Appointment: Jan 16, 1860
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 4, 1860
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 12, 1861
 
William L. Dayton
Appointment: Mar 18, 1861
Presentation of Credentials: May 19, 1861
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Dec 1, 1864
 
John Bigelow
Appointment: Mar 15, 1865
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 23, 1865
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Dec 23, 1866
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 22, 1866.
 
John A. Dix
Appointment: Sep 24, 1866
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 23, 1866
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 23, 1869
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Mar 2, 1867.
 
Elihu B. Washburne
Appointment: Mar 17, 1869
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 23, 1869
Termination of Mission: Reaccredited on May 8, 1871, when France again became a republic; presented recall, Sep 5, 1877
 
Edward F. Noyes
Appointment: Jul 1, 1877
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 5, 1877
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Aug 5, 1881
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Oct 30, 1877.
 
Levi P. Morton
Appointment: Mar 21, 1881
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 5, 1881
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 14, 1885
 
Robert M. McLane
Appointment: Mar 23, 1885
Presentation of Credentials: May 14, 1885
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 20, 1889
 
Whitelaw Reid
Appointment: Mar 23, 1889
Presentation of Credentials: May 21, 1889
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 25, 1892
 
T. Jefferson Coolidge
Appointment: May 12, 1892
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 10, 1892
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 4, 1893
 
James B. Eustis
Appointment: Mar 20, 1893
Note: Took oath of office, but did not proceed to post in this capacity.
 
James B. Eustis
Appointment: Apr 8, 1893
Presentation of Credentials: May 6, 1893
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 24, 1897
 
Horace Porter
Appointment: Mar 19, 1897
Presentation of Credentials: May 26, 1897
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 2, 1905
 
Robert S. McCormick
Appointment: Mar 8, 1905
Presentation of Credentials: May 2, 1905
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Mar 2, 1907
 
Henry White
Appointment: Dec 19, 1906
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 23, 1907
Termination of Mission: Left France, Nov 3, 1909
 
Robert Bacon
Appointment: Dec 21, 1909
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 31, 1909
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Apr 19, 1912
 
Myron T. Herrick
Appointment: Feb 15, 1912
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 29, 1912
Termination of Mission: Left post, Nov 28, 1914
 
William G. Sharp
Appointment: Jun 19, 1914
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 4, 1914
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Apr 14, 1919
 
Hugh Campbell Wallace
Appointment: Feb 27, 1919
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 22, 1919
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jul 5, 1921
 
Myron T. Herrick
Appointment: Apr 16, 1921
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 15, 1921
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Mar 31, 1929
 
Walter E. Edge
Appointment: Nov 21, 1929
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 18, 1929
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Apr 13, 1933
 
Jesse Isidor Straus
Appointment: Mar 17, 1933
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 8, 1933
Termination of Mission: Left France, Aug 5, 1936
 
William Christian Bullitt
Appointment: Aug 25, 1936
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 13, 1936
Termination of Mission: Left La Bourboule, Jul 11, 1940
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 23, 1937. Near the end of Bullitt’s term of service, Anthony J. Drexel Biddle, Jr., acted as Deputy Ambassador to France, Jun 13–25, 1940.
 
William D. Leahy
Appointment: Nov 29, 1940
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 8, 1941
Termination of Mission: Left Vichy, May 1, 1942
Note: S. Pinkney Tuck was serving as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim when France severed diplomatic relations with the US, Nov 8, 1942.
 
Jefferson Caffery
Appointment: Nov 25, 1944
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 30, 1944
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 13, 1949
Note: The Embassy in Paris had been opened to the public Dec 1, 1944, with Ambassador Caffery in charge pending presentation of his letter of credence.
 
David K. E. Bruce
Appointment: May 9, 1949
Presentation of Credentials: May 17, 1949
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 10, 1952
 
James Clement Dunn
Appointment: Mar 13, 1952
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 27, 1952
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 2, 1953
 
C. Douglas Dillon
Appointment: Feb 27, 1953
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 13, 1953
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 28, 1957
 
Amory Houghton
Appointment: Mar 14, 1957
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 17, 1957
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 19, 1961
 
James M. Gavin
Appointment: Feb 22, 1961
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 21, 1961
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 26, 1962
 
Charles E. Bohlen
Appointment: Sep 4, 1962
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 27, 1962
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 9, 1968
 
Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr.
Appointment: Apr 22, 1968
Presentation of Credentials: May 25, 1968
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 25, 1970
Note: Was Vice Presidential nominee in 1972, running with George McGovern. He lost to Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.
 
Arthur K. Watson
Appointment: Apr 8, 1970
Presentation of Credentials: May 6, 1970
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 30, 1972
 
John N. Irwin, II
Appointment: Feb 2, 1973
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 23, 1973
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 20, 1974
 
Kenneth Rush
Appointment: Sep 19, 1974
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 21, 1974
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 14, 1977
 
Arthur A. Hartman
Appointment: Jun 8, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 7, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 14, 1981
 
Evan Griffith Galbraith
Appointment: Nov 6, 1981
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 2, 1981
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 15, 1985
 
Joe M. Rodgers
Appointment: Jul 19, 1985
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 20, 1985
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 8, 1989
 
Walter J.P. Curley
Appointment: May 12, 1989
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 6, 1989
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 11, 1993
 
Pamela Harriman
Appointment: May 8, 1993
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 30, 1993
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Feb 5, 1997
 
Felix G. Rohatyn
Appointment: Aug 1, 1997
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 11, 1997
Termination of Mission: Left post Dec 7, 2000
 
Howard H. Leach
Appointment: Jul 12, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 4, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 16, 2005
 
Craig Roberts Stapleton
Appointment: Jun 21, 2005
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 25, 2005
Termination of Mission:
Note: Also commissioned to Monaco, Nov 22, 2006.
 
more less
France's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Vimont, Pierre

 

Pierre Vimont has served as France’s Ambassador to the United States since August 1, 2007.Vimont holds a degree in law and is a graduate of the Institute of Political Studies and the National School of Administration (ENA). He joined the Foreign Service in 1977 and was first posted to London, where he was first secretary from 1978 to 1981. He spent the next four years with the Press and Information Office at the Quai d’Orsay.
 
From 1985 to 1986 Vimont was served at the Institute for East-West Security in New York. Returning to Europe, he served as second counselor with the Permanent Representation of France to the European Communities in Brussels (1986-1990) and was subsequently chief of staff to the minister-delegate for European affairs from 1990 to 1993.
 
Vimont went on to serve as director for development and scientific, technical and educational cooperation and then for cultural, scientific and technical relations. He was deputy director general of the entire Cultural, Scientific and Technical Relations Department from 1996 to 1997, and then director of European Cooperation from 1997 to 1999.
 
He served as ambassador and permanent representative of France to the European Union from 1999 to 2002, and, prior to his present appointment, Vimont was chief of staff to the minister of foreign affairs.
 

more less
France's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
more less

Comments

Leave a comment

captcha

U.S. Ambassador to France

Rivkin, Charles
ambassador-image

Who says President Barack Obama isn’t a traditionalist? The man who promised change in Washington has decided to continue the long-held habit of presidents reserving the post of ambassador to France for, well, anyone but career diplomats. Only one of the last twelve U.S. ambassadors to France (Arthur Hartman under Jimmy Carter) has been a Foreign Service officer. The others have all been what is politely known as “non-career appointees.” Both of President George W. Bush’s ambassadors, Howard Leach and Craig Roberts Stapleton, were major Republican Party fundraisers. Now, the ambassadorship goes to Charles Hammerman Rivkin, one-time head of the Muppets empire, who helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama in 2008.

 
Rivkin, 47, is the son of the late William R. Rivkin, a lawyer and Democratic insider who was appointed ambassador to Luxembourg by President John F. Kennedy and ambassador to Senegal and Gambia by President Lyndon Johnson. Rivkin was only a child when his father died in Dakar in 1967. His family established the William R. Rivkin Award in 1968, which is awarded each year by the American Foreign Service Association to a mid-career Foreign Service officer who best exemplifies “constructive dissent” in their duties.
 
After growing up with his mother and three siblings (Julia, Laura, and Robert), Rivkin went on to attend college at Yale, receiving a B.A. in political science and international relations. He later earned an MBA from Harvard University.
 
Rivkin worked as a corporate finance analyst at Salomon Brothers, before joining The Jim Henson Company in 1988 as director of strategic planning. Two years later, he was made vice president, In 1990, he married Susan Melissa Tolson, an analyst at Capital Research Company.
 
Rivkin continued to rise at the company famous for creating the Muppets, becoming senior vice president and chief operating officer in 1991, executive vice president and COO in 1994, and president and COO in 1995, making him the first chief executive who was not a member of the Henson family. In 2000, he was given the title of CEO, and engineered the sale of the company to the German-owned EM.TV for $1 billion.
 
By the following year, EM.TV’s legal and financial troubles led to rumors that The Henson Company might again be sold, but after two years of struggling to find a buyer, German executives agreed to sell the company back to the Henson family in 2003, which in turn sold the Muppets franchise to the Walt Disney Company. Rivkin then stepped aside to allow the family to once again run the company, while retaining a position on the board.
 
During the 2004 presidential campaign, Rivkin was an active supporter of Democratic nominee John Kerry, and served as an at-large California delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
 
In 2005, Rivkin became president and chief executive officer of Wild Brain, a San-Francisco-based entertainment and animation production company whose television series include Yo Gabba Gabba! and Higglytown Heroes. Rivkin is an executive producer of Yo Gabba Gabba!, which airs on Nickelodeon and Noggin cable networks.
 
Outside of his business dealings, Rivkin is a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council and the Pacific Council on International Policy.
 
When Obama shattered campaign fundraising records with a $150 million haul in September 2008, his bundlers in California played a key role in amassing so much cash. Rivkin was one of these major players, serving as Obama’s Southern California finance co-chair. According to OpenSecrets.org, he sent at least $500,000 towards Obama’s campaign committee as a bundler and another $300,000 toward his inaugural committee. Since the 1994 election cycle, Rivkin has personally contributed more than $97,500 to Democrats, including $6,600 to Obama.
 

Rivkin is not the only member of his family to receive an appointment from Obama. His brother, Robert, was selected to be general counsel for the Department of Transportation, and Robert’s wife, Cindy S. Moelis, a close friend of Michelle Obama, was chosen to direct the Commission on White House Fellows.

 

California Gives Most to Obama Camp (by Jeffrey Ressner, Politico)

 

more