The rapid assimilation of French immigrants into American society enabled Americans to study and emulate French culture, manners, cuisine, fashion, art, and literature. French Americans mainly disseminated information and acted as role models. French chefs and restaurants bolstered the popularity of French cuisine and made the first yeast breads in North America while bringing technical farming skills that vastly improved American rice and wines. Huguenots grew and prepared the first okra, artichokes, and tomatoes.
Imported French attire gained popularity in the early nineteenth century, particularly items such as gloves and lace. Around 1850, the French custom of wearing beards swept across the United States and the French impressionists influenced American art. The Huguenots introduced several skilled crafts, including sophisticated techniques of weaving, leather dressing, lace making, and felt manufacture.
French military officers made major contributions to our War of Independence and after the War, France became America’s first ally. Pierre L’Enfant became a city planner for George Washington and was responsible for the layout of the nation’s capital. And in 1876, plans were drafted to create the Statue of Liberty, a joint effort between France and the United States.
When Napoleon sold the entire state of Louisiana to the US, it included the city of New Orleans, which sits at the mouth of the Mississippi river. The city still has a thriving French quarter that features classic French architecture and restaurants named after characters from France's history pages. And in New York City, the first gas-powered taxicabs were imported from France in 1907.