Abstract

Recent scholarship on French Revolutionary refugees to the United States has demonstrated their importance to American politics in the 1790s. But while this literature places these refugees within preexisting networks in the French Atlantic, and within the context of the imperial conflicts of the late eighteenth century, it largely ignores their long-term importance to the nineteenth-century United States. In tracing the life of Natalie Delage Sumter—an aristocratic Frenchwoman who immigrated to the United States in 1793 and married into the prominent Sumter family of South Carolina in 1802—this article points to the ways that former refugees continued to participate in trans-Atlantic networks and retain elements of French culture, even as they embraced a life in the United States. As an adult, Sumter sought to square her aristocratic and royalist past with her life in the United States, primarily through family and faith. Her family ties across the Atlantic world, and her support of the Catholic Church and its nascent institutions in the United States, provided Sumter with economic, ideological, and emotional support and were the basis of her lifelong cosmopolitanism.

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