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French Legation Museum, Austin

July 23, 2014 , ,

There is only one foreign diplomatic residence in the United States outside of Washington, DC. It was the home of the French government’s embassy to the Republic of Texas.  The Republic only existed between 1836 and 1846.  The city of Austin was a town of about 800 people, including slaves.  The French wanted to trade with the Republic because they built ships and wanted the wood in Texas.  They believed the Texans, with a long shoreline, needed ships. They also thought the people on the frontier would buy French wine.  They sent a young man in the diplomatic corps from Washington, DC to Galveston to do a study to determine the feasibility of setting up a relationship with Texas.  This man was Alphonse DuBois.  He came back with  glowing report, and landed the job of charge d’affaires to the Republic of Texas for himself.   His diplomatic skills, or his ability to adjust to life on the frontier, were lacking.  He bought a giant piece of land above the town and built a grand Creole style home for himself.  He got into a serious altercation with a local about some pigs who broke into his corn.  This became the Pig War, and was the downfall of Mr DuBois.  He left for New Orleans, supposedly for his health, but when he returned to Austin Sam Houston was carrying on most of the Republic’s business in Travis County.  His career was never the same after that.  He was eventually recalled to France.

A visit to the French Legation Museum is well worth the time.  The guided tour, which is done very professionally, is only $5, which hardly pays for the air conditioning while you are there.  On the second and fourth Sundays of the month real French people show up to play pantenque and have a potluck.  The public is invited to participate.  The park’s outdoor spaces are open to the public.  They have an agreement with a group of sculptors who maintain a high quality display of local artists’ work on the grounds.  It is a very special place to visit. The front porch has a protected view of the capital building, which is pretty sweet.  Nobody can build anything that blocks the view.

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comments

Wow, this is interesting. Only a nation like France can think of a republic in the desert. Did you play Patenque? Eurpeans tend to think that only we have a history because buildings of 300 years are nothing to be mentioned due to the fact that our culture has been more continous than the Americans’ where the Natives typcially did not build houses or write things down and were the domineering culture until about 200 years ago.

Looking forward to more news from Texas 🙂

Liked by 1 person

Brigitte Kobi

July 23, 2014

This part is not a desert. The cotton framers moved here because of the good land and abundance of water. I played a game like bocci, which is called Bolas Criollas in Venezuela. The balls are bigger than the French ones. I was not at the museum with the French. I was, however, on the tour with a really cool lady who beat Bobby Flay in a jerk chicken throw down….I know that will not mean anything in Zurich..but here it is HUGE.

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mermaidcamp

July 23, 2014

I know that Pétangqu is the French version of what the Italians (and us) call Boccia with slightly different rules and I did people see play it overhere the. I think the Boccia balls are bigger too. Your description of the land explaines to me the republic idea. The only Bobby Flay I heard of is a TV chef still very much alive.

Liked by 1 person

Brigitte Kobi

July 23, 2014

You are right about Bobby..he challenges chefs to beat him in a competition on a certain food. The lady on my tour beat him in a throw down..hard to do.

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mermaidcamp

July 23, 2014

What a cool museum!! The back story is even better than the furniture and all the other things. thanks for sharing!

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Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

July 23, 2014

The things in the house are mostly donated and restored..very little original..it is the house and the story that make it so fabulous..you are right.

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mermaidcamp

July 23, 2014

Lovely photos pam, I hope you are enjoying your staycation!

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London-Unattached.com

July 26, 2014

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