At the height of the anti-French frenzy led by the American MSM from 2003 up to 2007 the name of Comte Georges Buffon was often mentioned as evidence of historical French anti-Americanism.
The reason why Buffon was associated with this canard of naturally born French anti-Americanism was to be found in his major work l'Histoire naturelle, published between 1749 and 1789 (8 years after he died). In this very popular encyclopaedia, Buffon wrote some passages where he described the natural world in
America as much inferior in size and abilities to the European one.
Needless to say, this book was very favourably received when it was published in the
in 2005. At long last, a Frenchman validated the American certitude of yesteryears about the natural anti-Americanism of the French. US
Now, to use Buffon's work as evidence of early French anti-Americanism as Philippe Roger did in his book The American enemy is beyond common sense. At least he found a niche...
- Everybody knows how unscientific Buffon was.
- He wrote his book before the
was even born as an independent state. US
- He merely exposed the Eurocentrism of nearly each and every "scientist" in this field of research in the XVIIIth century.
- When he wrote his Histoire naturelle, a third of the land known as
belonged to the French as we can see here and here. Why would have Buffon written something deliberately disparaging about Americans (e.g. white immigrants) whereas he was writing about the natives, save for his European bias and unscientific approach of the issues at stake? America
Modern Americans taking at face value the use of Buffon's work as evidence of very early French anti-Americanism are being misled to say the least.
The same "accusation" of early anti-Americanism can be made against Stendhal for example. I remember reading something about the omnipotence of the dollar in his preface to the Italian chronicles. It may be understood as early anti-Americanism. It also may be a good opportunity to remember that in those times the American population Stendhal was referring to was mostly composed of European immigrants. And not exactly the upper crust of the society. Mainly peasants and traders, poor people from Scandinavia,
or Poland, gold rushers etc… Ireland
was seen by many Europeans as an exit strategy after the crimes they may have committed in their respective lands. The country was a limitless space open to all sorts of adventure to people who certainly didn’t belong to the European circles were hand-kissing was practiced. US
Ever heard of the Loterie du lingot d'or? The thousands of French who were sent to
weren’t used to hand-kissing according to all probabilities since the settlers in XIXth century weren’t exactly adept at this social behaviour when they were still living in California Europe. Just like the first British sent to populate were'nt scions of the English aristocracy. Australia
So, to make a long story short, maybe Stendhal (among others) was critical of these Europeans who were emigrating rather of Americans per se, that is those with 3 or 4 generations behind them on American soil. In that case they were mostly English descendants from a nation of shopkeepers as you know (cf. Napoleon).