tags: Top Young Historians
Teaching Position: Associate Professor of History, J.W. McConnell Family Foundation Chair in American Studies, Université de Montréal.
Area of Research: U.S. and comparative nationalism, Political ideologies, The French Atlantic World, c. 1790-1820, Slavery and Society, c. 1770-1860
Education: Ph.D., History, Johns Hopkins University (2003); B.A., Columbia University (1994).
Major Publications: Furstenberg is the author of In the Name of the Father: Washington's Legacy, Slavery, and the Making of a Nation, Penguin Press, 2006, Audio book edition, Tantor audio, 2006,Paperback edition, Penguin Books, 2007, a Finalist for the Washington Book Prize, and a "Starred Review," Publisher's Weekly. Furstenberg is an editor with Carolyn Fick, La construction de la nation haïtienne après la Révolution. Under contract with CIDIHCA Press, 2010, and the upcoming George Washington and the American Nation: A Brief History with Documents. The Bedford Series in History and Culture. Under Contract with Bedford/ St. Martin's Press, for publication in 2011.
Furstenberg is currently working on When the United States Spoke French: French Émigrés, Land, and Empire in the Age of Revolutions. Under contract with Penguin Press, for publication in 2012/2013.
Furstenberg is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others:
"Atlantic Slavery, Atlantic Freedom: George Washington's Library, Slavery, and Trans-Atlantic Abolitionist Networks," William and Mary Quarterly, forthcoming, October 2010; "The Significance of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier in Atlantic History, c. 1754-1815," The American Historical Review, 113:2 (June, 2008), 647-677, Winner of the Ray Allen Billington Award, Western Historical Association, for the best article on Western history; "Beyond Slavery and Freedom: Autonomy, Agency, and Resistance in Early American Political Discourse." The Journal of American History 89:4 (March, 2003), 1295-1330, Winner of the ABC-CLIO: America: History and Life Award, for scholarship in American history advancing new perspectives on accepted interpretations or previously unconsidered topics.
Awards: Furstenberg is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Principal Investigator, "When the United States spoke French: Trans-Atlantic commerce, finance, and land speculation in the age of revolutions," Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Standard Research Grants Program, 2010-2013;
Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, The New York Public Library (Gilder Lehrman Fellow) 2009-2010;
Co-Investigator, "French Atlantic Studies" (with a group of scholars from Université de Montréal and McGill University), The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 2006-2009;
Gilder Lehrman Fellowship, The New-York Historical Society, 2008;
Principal Investigator, "French Atlantic World and the Creation of the American Republic, 1789-1803," Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Standard Research Grants Program, 2005-2008;
Principal Investigator, "Les émigrés français aux États-Unis et la transformation politique, économique, et diplomatique de la jeune république américaine, 1789-1803," Fonds de recherche sur la société et la culture, Québec, Établissement de nouveau professeurs-chercheurs, 2005-2008;
Program in Early American Economy and Society postdoctoral fellowship, Library Company of Philadelphia, 2005;
Principal Investigator, "Entangling Alliances: Philadelphia's International Revolutionary Networks and the Creation of Early American Political Culture," Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and l'Université de Montréal, Petite subvention/ Start-up Research Grant, 2004-2005;
Delmas Fellowship, The New-York Historical Society, 2001;
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship, the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 2001;
Johns Hopkins Dean's Fellowship, 2001;
Fellowship for graduate study, The Johns Hopkins University, 1998-2002;
Richard Hofstadter Fellowship, Columbia University, 1997-1998;
Jacob Javits Fellowship, United States Department of Education, 1997-2001.
Furstenberg formerly was a Visiting Professor, Université de Paris VII-Denis Diderot, and Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellow, King's College, Cambridge University.
Furstenberg hasalso contributed to the New York Times, and Baltimore Sun, and has given commentary on CBC Radio, Radio Canada Première Chaîne, and LCI/ TVA Television.
My grandfather on my mother's side, Félix-Paul Codaccioni, was an historian. He taught in high schools in France for many years and then, when he completed his monumental thèse d'état, a two-volume work on the working class of Lille, an industrial city in the north of France where he had settled with his family, he began teaching at the University. For my grandfather, as for many Corsicans starting with his own father, education was road out of the grinding poverty of the rural peasantry; educational achievement was probably the single most important value for him.
I grew up in the United States and only saw my grandfather every other year, when the family went to Corsica on vacation. (As a teacher, he was able to spend the summers in his ancestral home in a small village in the mountains there). No doubt misinterpreting my awkward shyness as intellectual profundity, he imagined I was interested in school and so he would, on occasion, try to mentor me. I have vivid memories of the two of us in the middle of the afternoon on the house's balcony, me sitting on an uncomfortable chair facing my grandfather, my eyes stinging from the blinding white sun, sweating and miserable, as he droned on and on about Hegel's dialectic-thèse, antithèse, synthèse… thèse, antithèse, synthèse-while I listened despondently to the other kids playing in the village, blissfully unaware of nineteenth-century German philosophy.
I wish I could say it was he who inspired me to become an historian, but I think the truth is probably more complicated. Other, more powerful and direct influences intervened in college and graduate school to shape my professional choices and intellectual interests. What is strangely true, however, is that I seem to have lived the life that he imagined for himself.
My grandfather always dreamed of moving to Canada. I have no idea why. Certainly he wasn't enamored of the cold. I think it must have been the scale that caught his imagination: of the forests and mountains and lakes and rivers, and the great Saint Laurent in particular, all of it so different from the smallness and cramped life of postwar Europe in general and of arid Corsica in particular. My grandmother wouldn't hear of moving to Canada, however, and so they never got further than the north of France.
I, on the other hand, not only became a university professor of history, but went on to get a job teaching in French in Québec: exactly the life my grandfather would have chosen had if he had been able to follow through on his dreams. It is a curious fate for me; my education was in English in big-named American universities, and like most Americans I never gave Canada the slightest though-until I got a job and moved there. Historians as much as anyone else lack perspicacity when the benefits of distance and hindsight are absent, so I won't even try to speculate about how it is that, without any conscious intent whatsoever, I fulfilled my grandfather's dream.
By François Furstenberg
Martha ultimately took it upon herself to free her husband's slaves early: some two years before her own death. But it was not humanitarian reasons that drove this early emancipation, the existing evidence suggests she disapproved of freeing slaves, nor was it from the expense or difficulty involved in supporting² the slaves. It was out of fear. It was found necessary, reported Martha¹s grandson, to free the slaves for prudential reasons. Hidden in this circumlocution was the fact that George;s deathbed emancipation had put Martha¹s life in jeopardy. As she and the slaves all recognized, the longer she lived, the longer their bondage extended. "In the state in which they were left by the General," wrote Adams, "she did not feel as tho her Life was safe in their Hands, may of the [the slaves] would be told that it was [in] their interest to get rid of her." She therefore was advised to set them free at the close of the year.
Martha Washington, first First Lady, wife of the father of the nation, lived her last days among hundreds of enslaved people she called family, people she believed would try to kill her. -- François Furstenberg in "In the Name of the Father: Washington's Legacy, Slavery, and the Making of a Nation"
About François Furstenberg
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