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The Jesuits in North America in the 17th Century

The Jesuits in North America in the 17th Century by Francis Parkman
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Parkman has been hailed as one of America's first great historians and as a master of narrative history. Numerous translations have spread the books around the world. The American writer and literary critic Edmund Wilson (1895-1972) in his book "O Canada" (1965), described Parkman’s France and England in North America in these terms: "The clarity, the momentum and the color of the first volumes of Parkman’s narrative are among the most brilliant achievements of the writing of history as an art."

Parkman's biases, particularly his attitudes about nationality, race, and especially Native Americans, has generated criticism. The Canadian historian W. J. Eccles harshly criticized what he perceived as Parkman's bias against France and Roman Catholic policies, as well as what he considered Parkman's misuse of French language sources. However, Parkman's most severe detractor was the American historian Francis Jennings, an outspoken and controversial critic of the European colonization of North America, who went so far as to characterize Parkman's work as "fiction" and Parkman himself as a "liar".

Unlike Jennings and Eccles, many modern historians have found much to praise in Parkman's work even while recognizing his limitations. Calling Jennings' critique "vitriolic and unfair," the historian Robert S. Allen has said that Parkman's history of France and England in North America "remains a rich mixture of history and literature which few contemporary scholars can hope to emulate". The historian Michael N. McConnell, while acknowledging the historical errors and racial prejudice in Parkman's book The Conspiracy of Pontiac, has said:

...it would be easy to dismiss Pontiac as a curious perhaps embarrassing artifact of another time and place. Yet Parkman's work represents a pioneering effort; in several ways he anticipated the kind of frontier history now taken for granted.... Parkman's masterful and evocative use of language remains his most enduring and instructive legacy.

First Page:

This etext was produced by Ken Reeder Thanks to Cyrille Heloir for French proofreading Transcription notes are included as an appendix

FRANCE AND ENGLAND IN NORTH AMERICA.

A SERIES OF HISTORICAL NARRATIVES.

BY FRANCIS PARKMAN

PART SECOND.

THE JESUITS IN NORTH AMERICA IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.

BY FRANCIS PARKMAN

PREFACE.

Few passages of history are more striking than those which record the efforts of the earlier French Jesuits to convert the Indians. Full as they are of dramatic and philosophic interest, bearing strongly on the political destinies of America, and closely involved with the history of its native population, it is wonderful that they have been left so long in obscurity. While the infant colonies of England still clung feebly to the shores of the Atlantic, events deeply ominous to their future were in progress, unknown to them, in the very heart of the continent. It will be seen, in the sequel of this volume, that civil and religious liberty found strange allies in this Western World.

The sources of information concerning the early Jesuits of New France are very copious... Continue reading book >>


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