French Americans' Contributions to Our Nation

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.

Legacy Stories from the Americans All Heritage Honor Roll

We are pleased to host and share these legacy stories created by honorees’ family, friends and associates. They, like us, appreciate that heritage and culture are an integral part of our nation's social fabric and want to help students participate effectively in our nation's economy, workforce and democracy.

Last Name of Individual
First Name of Individual
Group name

Maxime “Max” Chalmin New Jersey (October 7, 1909 - April 30, 1977) France, Français, Chef de Cuisine

Mon père Maxime Chalmin, est né à Coulandon, un petit village au Centre de la France, en  Octobre,1909. Après sa scolarité et plusieurs filaments comme apprenti (comme cela se faisait à l’époque) il se dirige vers le métier de la restauration et il arrive aux Etats Unis en 1939 comme cuisinier au pavillon Belge de l’Exposition Internationale à N.Y.

Maxime “Max” Chalmin New Jersey (October 7, 1909 - April 30, 1977) France, French, Executive Chef

My father, Maxime Chalmin, was born in Coulandon, France, in October 1909. In his late teens and beyond, and after a series of "apprenticeship" assignments as was the professional development protocol in those days, he came to the United States as a cook at the Belgian Pavilion at the 1939 New York World's Fair. 

Marie-Claire Jeanne (Baudin) Miller Maryland (August 25, 1940 - December 20, 2015)

Marie-Claire est décédé subitement de causes naturelles. Elle laisse dans le deuil son mari, Steve, et les enfants, Corinne (Smithen), Valerie (Hochman) et Sandra (Rosenband) et huit petits-enfants. Les services seront le 23 Décembre, Norbeck / judéenne Memorial Gardens Chapelle. La famille recevra parents et amis le 23 et 24 Décembre à la résidence Miller.

Marie-Claire Jeanne (Baudin) Miller Maryland (August 25, 1940 - December 20, 2015) French, France

Marie-Claire passed away suddenly of natural causes. She is survived by her husband, Steve, and children, Corinne (Smithen), Valerie (Hochman) and Sandra (Rosenband) and eight grandchildren. Services will be on December 23, Norbeck/Judean Memorial Gardens Chapel.  The family will receive friends on December 23rd  and 24th at the Miller residence.