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.
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.
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.
US Moves to Extradite Noriega to France
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.
Appointment: Sep 14, 1778
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 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.