HTY 398 (0002): French Exploration in Maine

Instructor: Mary Okin

Location: Remote

Description: This course will examine the history of the French exploration and settlement of Maine within the broader geopolitical context of the settlement of North America and the establishment of the French colonies of Acadia (Acadie) and New France (La Nouvelle France). Though forgotten in many general histories, the names and traces of the early French explorers and settlers remain in many place names along the Maine Coast, including the names of mountains and hiking trails in Acadia National Park, such as Champlain, St. Sauveur, Sieur de Mons, and in the name of the town of Castine, Maine. We will examine the history of the early French in Maine in depth, beginning with Samuel de Champlain’s explorations of the Maine Coast and the first French settlement in 1604 on St. Croix Island (now called Dochet Island), on the border between Maine and New Brunswick. The course will focus on the following themes: the early explorations of the Maine coast, the first French settlements, the economic and political reasons for French interest in Maine, the establishment of Acadia, the interactions between the French and the native peoples, the role played by French missionaries in the region, the French conflict with the British, the build up to the British deportation of Acadians from Nova Scotia starting in 1755, and the gradual decline of French power in Maine. Many of the readings will focus on the roles and perspectives of the Abenaki who lived in the region prior to the French and English colonization efforts. The course will also explore the key role played by Fort Pentagoët in present-day Castine as the primary Maine outpost of French settlement during the period and we will focus in depth on one of its more interesting historical figures, the Baron of St. Castin. The end of the period covered is marked by the demise of Acadia, and the gradual dwindling of French power in Maine, which occurred following the defeat of Louisbourg in 1758 and the conquest of Quebec in 1759. The end of French control in Maine was finalized by the Treaty of Paris in 1763, in which all French colonies in North America were ceded to Britain.

Prerequisites: Three credits in History or instructor permission. 

General Education Requirements: This course does not meet any of the General Education requirements.