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On the Eve of Conquest

On the Eve of the Conquest: The Chevalier De Raymond’s Critique of New France in 1754

Completed translation of Charles de Raymond’s 1754 expose of life at French colonial posts and settlements of New France. The book offers insight into the start of the French and Indian War and what Raymond regarded as administrative corruption and shortcomings in French relations with Native Americans.

In 1754, Charles de Raymond, chevalier of the Royal and Military Order of Saint Louis and a captain in the Troupes de la Marine wrote a bold, frank, and revealing expose on the French colonial posts and settlements of New France. On the Eve of the Conquest, more than an annotated translation, includes a discussion on the historical background of the start of the French and Indian War, as well as a concise biography of Raymond and Michel Le Courtois de Surlaville, the influential army colonel at the French court to whom the report was sent. Raymond brings to light what he sees as administrative corruption, inconsistent practices of both the church and the government regarding the brandy trade, and shortcomings of French relations with allied Native people. He proposes reforms to improve the French position form the Great Lakes Basin south to the Ohio River and east to Acadia. Raymond betrays his altruism in offering to oversee the implementation of his program, as major in command at Michilimackinac, or seigneur of Green Bay, or as “inspector general of the troops, garrisons, and posts of the upper country.”

Historians, anthropologists, museum curators, and other researchers interested in the French experience in North America during the 18th century will find this book useful. Valuable insights can be gained regarding Indian customs, relationships between French men and women, and the material culture in New France from Raymond’s memoire. On the Eve of Conquest is a remarkably candid view of the French empire in North America as it approached its fall.

If you like this book see also Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre: Officer, Gentleman, Entrepreneur.

Author: Translated and edited by Joseph L. Peyser
ISBN: 0-87013-433-7
Hardbound, 181 pages, 1997
Price: $39.95