The United States and France have been linked since the birth of our nation over 240 years ago when Lafayette (America’s favorite fighting Frenchman!) & the French military helped us win our independence from the English. A few years later when the French called on us to help with their revolution we were very conflicted, and if you’ve memorized “Cabinet Battle #2” from Hamilton like we have you’ll remember that Washington had Hamilton draft a statement of neutrality. But what made us question whether the people were leading or rioting during the French Revolution?
You might think about checking Les Miserables for the answers, but contrary to popular belief when you heard those people sing it was about the July Revolution of 1830 not the French Revolution. Cut to a few decades earlier: The Seven Years War & American Revolution had placed the country in debt, harvests had been poor for years prior to 1789, and the French people didn’t appreciate the privilege gap between the classes. (Sound familiar?) So the French took up arms and did something about it. The first major conflict in the decade-long revolution was the storming of the Bastille, a medieval fortress being used as a prison, on July 14 1789. This day is now celebrated in France every year as quatorze juillet (14th of July) or simply the fête nationale (National Celebration). Here in the US we celebrate it as Bastille Day!
Eventually we were able to return the support the French provided to our revolution during World War II, when we helped them end the German occupation in France. Which brings us to An American in Paris: the story of a young American soldier who decides to stay in Paris as an artist after World War II, told to the tune of Ira & George Gershwin.
An American in Paris plays at the Oriental Theatre from July 25 – August 13 and tickets are available now at broadwayinchicago.com
To learn more about Bastille Day and the French Revolution, see the links below!
What is it Bastille Day and why is it a national holiday in France? –http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/bastille-day-2016-what-is-it-when-france-national-holiday-parade-say-in-french-a7136431.html
French revolutionaries storm Bastille – http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/french-revolutionaries-storm-bastille
Why the Misnamed “Bastille” Day Is Nothing Like July 4th – https://frenchly.us/why-the-misnamed-bastille-day-is-nothing-like-july-4th-2/